Junior Fellows Meet James Baker, Advisor to Presidents

He’s in his eighties now and no longer serving as an official advisor to the presidents, but James Baker still knows his way around the halls of power. He’s also still willing to share his experiences in those halls, a fact that worked to the benefit of the Junior Fellows last week, when they had a chance to meet him at a Houston World Affairs Council event and learn from his experiences and insights into the world.

James_Baker_Sign

His insights come from years in Washington, DC, where he served Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush (the elder), Clinton, and Bush (the younger). Most notably, he served as Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff and George H. W. Bush’s Secretary of State, the latter capacity providing him with a starring role the shaping of the New World Order, assembling the coalition that defeated Saddam Hussein in the first Persian Gulf War, and ending the Cold War.

Gorbachev, Bush, Baker

Gorbachev, Bush, Baker

Baker’s speech reflected this broad background, with observations pertaining to every spot on the globe. When asked whether the United States should intervene in Syria, Baker was emphatic: “Consider me uncommitted. We don’t know which opposition group to back and intervention will simply antagonize Russia, whose support we need in Iran.” Baker was equally insistent that the US not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, noting that such a development would prompt every Middle Eastern country to undertake a similar program, ending any hope of controlling nuclear proliferation. Regarding China, Baker urged cooperation, noting that there is “no better way to find an enemy than to go looking for one” and pointing out that the US will need China’s cooperation on a host of world problems.

James Baker Speaking

James Baker Speaking

Ever-present in Baker’s discussion was his well-known “realism,” the doctrine that US interests should be the guiding interest in the country’s foreign policy. “The US does not have,” observed Baker, “the resources or the support to be the world’s police. We must be guided by our values and principles, but we must first look to our interests in formulating policy.” It was a tutorial in international diplomacy for a group of students interested in politics. “It was a candid and non-partisan speech,” noted Jessica Rodriguez, an officer in the Junior Fellows who is interning for Houston Mayor Anise Parker. “It was great to see the world through the eyes of someone who knows it so well.”

Although best known for his work in the international arena, Baker also knows the political side of things. He managed the political campaigns of Ford, the elder Bush, and Reagan, including Reagan’s record-setting 1984 campaign, which garnered more electoral votes than any other president in history. Ever the realist, however, Baker acknowledged that the Republican Party’s fortunes had declined since the Reagan-Bush years. Under Ike, Reagan, and Bush, Baker observed, the GOP was the party of “effective and efficient government, not the party of ‘no government.’” To re-discover the path to victory and effective leadership, Baker continued, the party will need to eschew the “bitterness and resentment” that seem to characterize the views of party leaders today and, instead, present a “positive and optimistic” plan for the country.

Reagan, Cronkite, Gergen, Meese, Bush, Baker

Reagan, Cronkite, Gergen, Meese, Bush, Baker

For a group of students hoping to make a positive difference in the country, the words were a validation, which Baker followed with an exhortation aimed directly at the students: “You are the future of the country. Get involved. It’s your birthright.”

For these students, however, it’s also a choice, one they hope will lead them to some of the same halls of power that Baker roamed for so many years.

Junior Fellows with James Baker

Junior Fellows with James Baker

 

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Ryan Brim’s Presidential Inauguration Blogs

Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 1 (Ryan)

At 3:00am we left Huntsville for our first stop, Dallas, Texas.  The site where President John F. Kennedy was shot is marked off with white X’s on the road. In the Sixth floor Museum (which I’ve been to but we didn’t visit on this trip because it was too early), the room from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK is sealed off with Plexiglas.  Who would’ve guessed that the Museum wasn’t open at 6:15?  The grassy knoll seemed to be under construction at the time, but it was still visible.

Elm Street, Dallas, Site of JFK Assassination

Elm Street, Dallas, Site of JFK Assassination

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, also known as “Ike,” was born in the small Texas town of Denison.  His family moved to Abilene, Kansas when he was only one.  His house is not as I remembered it from a previous visit; it is a small two-story house.

Eisenhower's Birthplace, Denison, TX

Eisenhower’s Birthplace, Denison, TX

There is a statue of Ike on the grounds and at another location along the highway, a huge bust by local Huntsville artist David Adickes.

Eisenhower, by David Adickes

Eisenhower, by David Adickes

Our next stop was Fayetteville, Arkansas, home of the University of Arkansas and the Razorbacks.  The campus buildings were nice, even though some were under construction.  Arkansas’ hilly scenery added to the effect of peacefulness on the campus.

Jesus Moroles's Sculptures, University of Arkansas

Jesus Moroles’s Sculptures, University of Arkansas

We also stopped at Crystal Bridges art museum, designed by famous architect Moshe Safdie, not too far from the UA campus.

Crystal Bridges Art Museum--Outside Sculpture

Crystal Bridges Art Museum–Outside Sculpture

The museum, resembling in some manner the Sydney Opera House, has over 400 paintings and sculptures.

The Architecture of the Crystal Bridges' Museum Is One of the Most Interesting Aspects of the Museum

The Architecture of the Crystal Bridges’ Museum Is One of the Most Interesting Aspects of the Museum

One exhibit was on colonial period paintings with George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury. Other exhibits include an update of Grant Woods’ “American Gothic” and an intriguing and realistic “Self Portrait” by Evan Penny.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait, Evan Penny

Our eventful first day came to a close with dinner at a bistro in Springfield, Missouri.

 

Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 2 (Ryan)

Today might have been the longest day on the trip.  After leaving the hotel, we toured a Usonian home, the Frank Lloyd Wright House at Ebsworth Park. We met up with two former Junior Fellows presidents, Dana Angello and Daniel North.  Usonian homes, designed by the well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright, were smaller houses that would be cheaper for middle class families to afford.  They were called United States of North America homes (he added the ”I” and ”N” so that the name would flow).  The house was designed for Mr. and Mrs. Krauss, and is designed as a series of overlapping parallelograms.

Frank Lloyd Wright Home in St. Louis

Frank Lloyd Wright Home in St. Louis

The St. Louis Gateway Arch was our next stop on the agenda.  The Arch is the tallest man-made national monument in the U.S and is very impressive.

The Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch

The space at the top was about the size of a wide hallway.  The view out of the tiny 12×6 window was phenomenal, for those who had the guts to look out of one (not all of us did!).

View from the Gateway Arch (Busch Stadium on the Left)

View from the Gateway Arch (Busch Stadium on the Left)

Abraham Lincoln, or Honest Abe, is one of the most famous presidents, especially known for freeing the slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation.  Although he was born in small log cabin in Kentucky, his tomb and memorial are located in Springfield, Illinois.  The Junior Fellows and I had the opportunity to end our second day of the inauguration trip by visiting a “collage” of Lincoln sites including Lincoln’s Tomb…

Lincoln Tomb

Lincoln Tomb

The Lincoln Presidential Library…

Interior of Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

Interior of Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

and the home he lived in for most of his life.

Lincoln Home

Lincoln Home

Interestingly, we also got to see another Frank Lloyd Wright Home, the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield.  It was definitely not a USONIAN Home.

Dana-Thomas Home, by Frank Lloyd Wright

Dana-Thomas Home, by Frank Lloyd Wright

Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 3 (Ryan)

The City of Cincinnati, interestingly known as The Queen City, is named after Cincinnatus, a Roman general who won several major battles in his time.  Since he was such a good leader, the people wanted to make him their king.  He refused and went back to his life of farming, for he had no desire to be in power.  We never found the statue, but we did drive by a mural picturing Cincinnatus.  The mural was impressive enough, covering the complete backside of a three-story building.

In Cincinnati, we started off a day of tours of many different historical houses and other sites.  We drove over the Roebling Suspension Bridge – the oldest bridge still standing that crosses the Ohio River.  In fact, we drove over the Ohio River a number of times during the day.

Roebling Suspension Bridge

Roebling Suspension Bridge

There are seven United States presidents who are Ohio-born, and the 18th and the 27th happen to be from Cincinnati.  Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th President, was born in a one room house no larger than a current-day, normal-sized hotel room.

US Grant Birthplace

US Grant Birthplace

Though a humble birthplace, the house has cool features like the Nanny rocker, which is a two person rocking chair.  It has a detachable crib side so that the mother can sit and have her baby next to her while she tends to chores like sewing, but the baby won’t fall out.

Nanny Rocking Chair

Nanny Rocking Chair

President William H. Taft was the other President born in Cincinnati; Taft’s childhood home is a two-story house that he shared with his other five siblings. He was the only President who also served as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court.

Taft Home

Taft Home

From Ohio, we continued our multi-state trip by moving on to the next state on our agenda, Kentucky.

President Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, was born in Kentucky near Honest Abe’s birthplace.

Mary Todd Lincoln House

Mary Todd Lincoln House

Her house is an impressive three-story, fourteen room mansion in Lexington, KY.  Mrs. Lincoln had 16 siblings growing up altogether.  Her father remarried after her mother died, and Mrs. Lincoln did not have a good relationship with her stepmother.  But her relationship with her step-grandma was another story.  Mary said as a young girl that she wanted to grow up and be just as her step-grandmother.

We also had the chance to see another of Kentucky’s politicians’ homes.  Henry Clay lived in the Ashland Estate, a sprawling and very cool home, with a root cellar, carriage house, well, and other cool amenities.

Ashland Estate

Ashland Estate

Today was another long day on the road.  From Ohio and Kentucky, we moved on to West Virginia, where we stopped in Charleston to see the capitol and have a late dinner.  We ate a diner-type dinner at a diner named, appropriately, “Diner.”  We then piled back in the car for another long night of driving, and ended up spending the night in Staunton, Virginia.

Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 4 (Ryan)

Woodrow Wilson served as President through the First World War, first known as the Great War.  His house is in Staunton, VA which is where we spent the night.  Although it wasn’t open, we were able to look about the grounds and in windows on the ground floor.

Woodrow Wilson Home

Woodrow Wilson Home

We arrived in Washington, D.C. this afternoon.  We walked the mall area, seeing first the Washington Monument…

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

and the Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Although it was crowded, the mall was a spectacular site to see.

Washington Monument and US Capitol

Washington Monument and US Capitol

Perhaps the most crowded memorials were the Lincoln and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials.  We didn’t get to see the Vietnam or the FDR Memorial, but we were able to visit the Jefferson…

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

Korean…

Korean Memorial

Korean Memorial

…as well as the World War II, and District of Columbia War Memorials.

Our party moved along Independence St., picking up souvenirs, where we met Junior Fellow Alumni Justin Veillon.  We traced the path we would take in the morning and found where we would be standing during the Inauguration, which was surprisingly close to the Capitol.

Capitol Building

Capitol Building

Justin ate dinner with us at a BBQ restaurant called Smokin’ Bones.  The hotel was extremely close to the hotel; it was actually in the same parking lot. We went to bed as early as we could, because we wanted to get as much sleep as possible before Inauguration Day.

Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 5 (Ryan)

Never mind day two of the trip – today was the longest day of the trip.

We started with an early 4:00am wake-up call followed by putting on layers upon layers of warm clothing so that the hours of standing outside would not leave us chilly.  The Metro was not as crowded…

Metro

Metro

…as I thought it would be and the ride was pleasant enough.

On the Metro

On the Metro

After the short ride, we were herded into a line about the size of five city blocks.  When we got close enough to the front of the line, we passed through a security tent where they checked everyone and all bags.  Will and Jessica had to get “wanded” several times and had to test out their electronic devices to make sure they were not intended for another purpose.

Capitol Building, Inauguration Morning

Capitol Building, Inauguration Morning

When we found a good spot where we could see the podium, we broke out the toe warmers and hand warmers.  They kept us warm through the whole ceremony.  About thirty minutes after finding a spot, a man started climbing a tree about forty feet away.  People started cheering him on because they thought he was just getting a better view, but that all stopped when he pulled out a sign, which were not allowed, protesting abortion.  Little did we know, he yelled about abortion and his views on the President (he was very anti-Obama) through the whole ceremony.

Protester

Protester

The police brought in a ladder to get him down, but he just climbed higher and higher.

The ceremony was good, though, as well as the singing performances from the many artists. The Inauguration ceremony for the President and Vice-President was a sight to see.  I will never forget it.

Presidential Inauguration

Presidential Inauguration

The ride back to the hotel from the parking garage was worse than the entire trip to the Inauguration.  Traffic was terrible.  We sat in the same spot in the parking garage for almost an hour.  We stayed at the hotel for what was left of the day.  The Junior Fellows and I ordered pizza.  We got extra sleep that night, because we didn’t have any other stops or plans for the rest of the night.

Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 6 (Ryan)

Today we visited many historical homes and sites, such as: Mt. VernonPresident George Washington)…

Mount Vernon, by Will Phillips

Mount Vernon, by Will Phillips

Mt. Vernon is the most visited house in the nation, with over 600,000 visitors per year.  George Washington’s father built the original house, but Washington later added on to it twice. Despite all of its additions, the nicest part of the home is the view…

View from Mount Vernon's Porch

View from Mount Vernon’s Porch

We also got to see the Barbourville Ruins…

Barboursville Ruins

Barbourville Ruins

…which were particularly cool.

Barbourville Ruins

Barbourville Ruins

Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the home burned in 1884, leaving this ghostly shell…

Barbourville Ruins

We also saw the Ashlawn-Highland house grounds (President  James Madison), Andrew Johsnson’s Home, and Sam Houston’s Birthplace, but my favorite place visited today was Monticello (President Thomas Jefferson).  The house, designed and constructed by Thomas Jefferson, was home to the third President.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

When you first walk in, there is a giant clock on the wall with five balls hanging from either side of the clock that keep the clock working and tell you the day of the week.  The room ended up being a “six day room,” so Jefferson cut a hole in the floor so that the clock would continue until Saturday.  Jefferson’s book collection totaled to over 6,000, but he was only able to keep about a sixth of them in his house. Many his other inventions are in the house, too, such as the copy machine on his desk, and a dumbwaiter for bottles of wine that could be sent up from the cellar when necessary.

We got to Tennessee late at night, and rested up for the next day.

Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 7 (Ryan)

We kick-started our day at the Sam Houston Schoolhouse in Maryville, Tennessee, where he taught school for a couple of years.  Although the place was closed for the season, we had called ahead for an appointment, and the caretakers (the Bells) were nice enough to open it so that we could take a look around.  The grounds aren’t elaborate, but there is some great history in the one-room building.

To keep alive the Greek culture in Nashville, we stopped at a gyros stand on our way to the Parthenon, named after Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom and war.

The Parthenon, Nashville, TN

The Parthenon, Nashville, TN

A giant statue of Athena is erected on the ground floor, complete with a serpent and shield.

Athena

Athena

Surrounding her are parts of statues of humans and horses.  Below, there is a museum from the excavation of the original structure in Greece.  We stopped by the Grand Ole Opry for a photo-op, and drove by Nashville’s Capitol.  Perhaps most interesting, however, was a stop we made about 45 miles south of Nashville in Columbia, where James Polk, our 11th President, lived.  His home was nice and interesting–as was the special exhibit of Sarah Polk artifacts–and the tour guide was especially impressive.  The guide was actually the director of the museum, John Holtzapple, and you can learn more from Holtzapple about Polk on C-Span.

James Polk Home

James Polk Home

It was a long day, but we had another stop.  The Junior Fellows and I visited Beale St. in Memphis, Tennessee, for dinner.

Beale Street

Beale Street

We tried to find a less noisy restaurant (which is hard to find), and after we continued on our way to Little Rock, Arkansas.

Presidential Inauguration Trip: Day 8 (Ryan)

Today, the last day of the trip, began in the capital of Arkansas, Little Rock.  The Junior Fellows and I started off the day with a photo-op at the first school in the nation to become integrated, Little Rock Central High. This is the site of one of the great Civil Rights showdowns in American history, and it’s always an inspiration to see.

Little Rock Central High School

Little Rock Central High School

While the JFs visited the Clinton Presidential Library…

Clinton Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library

…and to the River Walk….

Little Rock River Walk

Little Rock River Walk

…playground…

Jessica Rodriguez on the Playground Slide

Jessica Rodriguez on the Playground Slide

…sculpture garden…

Sculpture Garden

Sculpture Garden

…and bridges…

One of Seven Bridges of Little Rock

One of Seven Bridges of Little Rock

…I went a few blocks west to the Old Statehouse Museum.  The Old Statehouse Museum used to be the Capitol.  Interestingly, when it was the Capitol, a legislator was killed in one of the upstairs rooms in a knife duel.

We picked up the students and drove over to Whole Hog Café.  Whole Hog has the best BBQ in the state of Arkansas, and maybe even in the whole South.  We enjoyed a hearty meal and took home two cases of their famous barbeque sauces.

Our last stop before home was in Nacogdoches, Texas, at ZipNac.  Although we  have been ziplining there before, it was more exciting this time because it was night.  The stops along through the zip lining course were lit up, and you couldn’t see the ground from up high.  Taylor and I raced on the last zipline, and he won. (I think he jumped first.)  That was a fun end to our trip.

Junior Fellows Set to Embark on Twelve-State Presidential Inauguration Tour

Junior Fellows Prepare for a Presidential Tour

Junior Fellows Prepare for a Presidential Tour

The Junior Fellows are set to depart on their 2013 inaugural tour, a journey that will traverse twelve states, numerous presidential sites, and will culminate with attendance at the nation’s 57th presidential inauguration.

The first leg of the tour will take the Fellows through the Midwest, hitting spots such as St. Louis, MO; Springfield, IL; and Cincinnati, OH.  The second leg of the trip will take the students to Lexington, KY; Charleston, WV;  Northern Virginia; and Washington, DC.  The final leg of the trip will take students through the south, where the students will visit sites in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas.

The tour allows students to see numerous sites of historical (e.g., Henry Clay Home), artistic (e.g., Crystal Bridges Museum), and literary interest (e.g., T.S. Eliot Home), although the primary theme of the trip will be presidential sites.  Students will visit sites associated with seventeen presidents.  In chronological order: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk,  Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, U. S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.

It is the third presidential inauguration that the Junior Fellows have undertaken, and was designed to give the students a broad view of the United States and its history, while tying destinations to the experience of being at a presidential inauguration and to their classroom curriculum.

group_washington_monument_5360_web

The specific itinerary for the students is:

Thursday, January 17:

Friday, January 18:

Emily Johnson at the Gateway Arch, St. Louis

Emily Johnson at the Gateway Arch, St. Louis

Saturday, January 19:

Sunday, January 20:

Junior Fellows at Woodrow Wilson Home

Junior Fellows at Woodrow Wilson Home

Monday, January 21:

Junior Fellows at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration

Junior Fellows at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration

Tuesday, January 22:

Junior Fellows at Mount Vernon

Junior Fellows at Mount Vernon

Wednesday, January 23:

Thursday, January 24:

Little Rock at Night

The trip will include numerous sites the Junior Fellows—with different members—saw on previous inaugural trips, but many of the sites will be new to the organization and the members.

As a bonus, this year’s trip will also allow the students to trace Sam Houston’s circuitous path to Texas.  They will visit his birth site in northern Virginia; meander south to Tennessee, visiting the schoolhouse in which he was educated; drive through eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas, in the general vicinity of Houston’s stops with the Cherokees; and through Nacogdoches, where Houston was baptized; and, of course, returning to Huntsville, his final home.

Roman Holiday Film Review: Junior Fellow He Said, She Said

Ryan Brim: Hello everyone! On Thursday, July 12th, I went with the Junior Fellows to College Station to see the movie Roman Holiday at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library. Before the movie, we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant called Frittella in Bryan. We had a variety of dishes including Cannelloni, Frittella (the restaurant’s namesake and specialty), Lasagna, and other Italian dishes. I tried to finish my dinner with a Cappuccino, but it was too hot to drink it all. After dinner, we headed to the Library, and took seats on the first two rows of the theater. Roman Holiday is my favorite movie starring Gregory Peck, and the only movie that I have seen starring Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey Hepburn from Roman Holiday

If you haven’t seen it yourself, it’s worth watching to see the scenes about “The Mouth of Truth” and the press conference at the end of the movie, two of my favorite parts.  The film is funny, romantic, and engaging throughout.

Roman Holiday

Hellieth Pedroza: On Thursday July 12th, we drove to College Station to watch Roman Holiday. Before the movie, we stopped at Fritella which is an Italian restaurant that has been in Texas since 1960. The meals were delicious, at very good prices. Roman Holiday is a romantic comedy starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

Gregory Peck

Peck was a very handsome and fine looking man, and he ends up falling in love with the beautiful princess, played by Hepburn.  I enjoyed the movie because Audrey is an actress like no other, very original and a true natural beauty. My favorite part was when Princess Ann (Hepburn) decides to let loose and cut her hair—despite disapproving looks from her stylist. It was amusing because most women see their hair as a very important treasure, but she thought cutting it would give her the freedom she had been desperately seeking. Once her hair was cut, both she and the stylist were happy with the result, and freedom did, in fact, ensue.  Roman Holiday is a movie that is sure to please and sure to draw a smile.

Junior Fellows

Junior Fellows and the Lone Star Leadership Academy

The Junior Fellows engage in various philanthropic efforts each year.  Our major effort is our Charity Football Fundraiser.  On a much more modest scale, the Junior Fellows have also donated to the costs of the Lone Star Leadership Academy for Ryan Brim.  Ryan helps us with various events and, in fact, has attended 21 Junior Fellows events this year, and it’s a privilege to help him.  We can’t think of a better way to do that than through the Lone Star Leadership Academy, which offers young people wonderful educational opportunities in key Texas cities.

We did make a requirement of Ryan this year, as we did last year–he has to blog for us each day he is at the Lone Star Leadership Academy.  The Academy does not phones or other electronic gadgets at the camp, but Ryan wrote the blogs longhand and and typed them out when he returned from his visits to Austin, Wimberly, San Marcos, and San Antonio.  Those blogs, and a few pictures, follow.

 

Lone Star Leadership Academy: Sunday, June 10

Hello! This week I am at the Lone Star Leadership Academy. It is a non-profit organization that teaches kids leadership skills while visiting political and historical sites of interest. They have three different camps in 3 cities: Dallas/ Fort Worth, Austin/ San Antonio, Houston/ Galveston.

I checked into the camp around 4:00 pm in Wimberley, a town just outside of Austin. We did an icebreaker to learn everyone’s name. We had an intro to the camp by Mr. Rick, the camp director. Throughout the week, you can earn Texas Tokens, which are small slips of paper that you can earn by being a good citizen (holding doors) or answering Texas Trivia. At the end of each day, they take up the tokens and do a drawing. If your name is drawn, you get a cool prize like a flag flown over the capital on TX Independence day. Today, I earned 10 tokens.

We had a hot dog cookout with a dessert of marshmallows. After dinner, we chose our beds and set them up. After taking showers, we had around 30-45 minutes of free time where we could do what we wanted such as play cards, read, or even write a blog.

I better end this blog before they turn out the lights at 10:30, but I can’t wait until tomorrow’s activities.

Austin at Dusk, Things to Come

Lone Star Leadership Academy: Monday, June 11

We woke around 6:30 and had about 45 minutes to get ready before breakfast at 7:15. The food was good enough, and I can’t complain. Every day we have a different leadership skill. Yesterday’s skill was inclusion, while today’s skill is Determination. We have small groups where we discuss the leadership skill of the day. Sometimes, we do a group activity. Today, we did an activity called The Helium Stick.

First, you set a long, wooden rod on the top or everyone’s knuckles with their palms facing down. Next, without losing contact on the rod everyone lowers it to the ground. It seems almost impossible, but you are so focused on maintaining contact that you push it up without realizing it. It seems to magically rise, just like Helium. It is a good determination and team builder because you really want to complete the task.

The first attraction we visited was The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, which was opened in 2001 when the former Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock decided that Texas needed a state history museum. The museum has three floors representing Texas’ 3 stages: Encounters on the Land, Building the Lone Star Identity, and Creating Opportunity.

The LBJ Presidential Library is where we went next. It is 1 of the 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Association, but the only presidential library to have free admission. I have been there before, but I never have gone up to the archives section, where we went. There were high shelves of nothing but boxes and boxes of documents and anything having to do with his presidency.

I had 26 Texas Tokens today, but I still didn’t get a prize, but they keep the Tokens from the previous days, so I have a total of 36 Texas Tokens.

When we got back to the dorm, I took a shower and had around 27 minutes left until lights-out. It is getting close to bedtime, so I will continue writing tomorrow.