As the home for immersive leadership experiences at the University of Michigan, BLI’s travel opportunities are a way for students to connect, get inspired, and bring leadership concepts to life.

During spring break 2024, the BLI embarked on an immersive leadership journey to Washington, DC with 12 BLI students, many of whom were visiting for the first time. As the nation’s capital, Washington, DC is a vibrant place where the past, present, and future meet. Leaders congregate on Capitol Hill, national figures are honored in iconic monuments, and social movements gain visibility on the world stage.

In partnership with students from the Eisenhower Institute, student teams participated in a corporate leadership crisis simulation involving the hacking of AI technology. They met with Abir Haj Ibrahim, the 2023 Women Building Peace Award Finalist at the United States Peace Institute. She gave students a critical look at the impact of the war in Syria and her efforts to lead, advise, and train community development organizations working for positive social change. Students also connected with BLI Alumni who work in Washington, peers interning in the Michigan in Washington program, and visited monuments, museums, and the White House.

We asked the participants what their main takeaways from the experience were,

I learned the different ways that leadership manifests itself within policy organizations in DC, as well as learning about how to advocate for myself in those spaces and push for a leadership position. DC has such a rich history of different leadership, and I found that I was able to explore a bunch of different aspects of history and see how leadership manifests itself in those places. This experience really re-emphasized how leadership is a learned trait and how everyone has the ability to become a leader.

After going on this trip, I became more passionate about the history behind the city and of the United States in general. I was enthralled by the buildings and monuments we had the opportunity to see, how long they've been standing there, and what they represent. I also had a great experience with our cohort, and having the ability to get to know them and explore the city with them was incredible.

Conversation is crucial. I learned so much on this trip just by talking to people than I ever have in class or doing my own research. The connections we made with each other and more so with the people we got to meet are super valuable and will last beyond this trip.

The profound lesson I learned from this trip is that the journey of learning is perpetual and transformative. It's a relentless pursuit of self-improvement and growth, both academically and socially, that defines our evolution as individuals.

The importance of symbolism and storytelling was apparent through visiting these historical sites. It was a very powerful experience seeing these things and made me appreciate these aspects more as well as make me ponder how I can utilize these elements in my life.

The BLI is grateful for our amazing alumni who connected with BLI students in meaningful conversations. To the many people and organizations who exemplified what leadership in action looks like for the students and helped provide them with an experience that they can carry with them and apply in their own lives.