I was told a thousand times when I found out I was going to the Republican National Convention that I would be witnessing history, but I never realized just how it sweeps you off your feet.
I went to Cleveland, Ohio with a group of about 130 students from all over the country, hanging out every night with people from California to Texas to Florida. The first part of the week involved seminars about what to expect, but no one actually could prepare us for what the week was about to bring.
During this week I interned for CNN, which gave me the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. From the people who you see every time you turn on the news, to politicians who are quick to have a conversation and ask you how you’re doing, to football legends who stop for every fan to take a picture.
The convention really started out with a bang. I had to scramble the first day to find out why so many Colorado delegates had just walked out of the gate right past me. You could feel the tension rise in the arena every time Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s name was mentioned, but as the week went on, the delegates started to settle into the idea of uniting as a party and trying to win the presidency, instead of arguing over the nomination.
I was lucky enough to be able to get out on the floor during last Tuesday night’s proceedings with the Connecticut delegation, which had a front row seat to the action. Being out on that floor is unlike anything I have ever experienced. The energy was flowing and people packed the floor when House Speaker Paul Ryan was discussing the votes, and I was about 10 feet away when the delegate from Alaska demanded a recount. Yes, the floor erupted instantly.
As fun as it was to be on the floor of Quicken Loans Arena, the outside atmosphere of downtown Cleveland was completely transformed. While there were many groups protesting, they were generally very peaceful and I never felt unsafe as there was always a group of police officers or secret service an arm’s length, which is especially comforting while stuck in a crowd next to someone who is wearing an upside down shoe on his head and another preaching into a megaphone.
Throughout the week I got to learn the ins and outs of both the media and the political system. All the work that goes into these broadcasts has already started to change how I watch them. I have become much more educated in how conventions and nominations work and thankfully I have gotten to learn all of that first hand. I got the opportunity to witness headline-making events, watch breaking news broadcasts, experience the convention floor, protests in Public Square, and got the best political science education.
Molly Halper is a junior at Quinnipiac University.