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NJCDC Takes Paterson Teens to Visit Our Nation’s Capital

NJCDC Takes Paterson Teens to Visit Our Nation’s Capital

June 5, 2023

View our Paterson Youth Council DC photos on

In honor of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg—who never forgot his Paterson roots—NJCDC brings a group of Paterson teens to Washington D.C. annually. This year, we brought 40 teens, most of whom are members of our Paterson Youth Council (PYC), a citywide youth-led and youth-driven civic program that serves as the premier voice for Paterson's young people. They were joined by members of other NJCDC youth development programs, including our Great Falls Youth Center, PCTI Teen Center, and 21st Century Compete for Life program at John F. Kennedy High School.

On the morning of Tuesday, May 16, our students took a bus bright and early from NJCDC's headquarters to Washington, D.C. for this unforgettable two-day trip. They made their first stop at the historic Union Station, where they enjoyed a guided tour with Amtrak officials. Union Station is known for being one of the nation's first major railroad terminals and has more than 100,000 visitors pass through daily!

After lunch, the group traveled to Arlington National Cemetery where they took a tram tour with live narration. The tram made stops at President John F. Kennedy's gravesite, John J. Pershing's gravesite, the Memorial Amphitheater (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), and Arlington House.

Our group then headed to Georgetown, where they went on a walking tour and enjoyed dinner. The neighborhood was founded in 1751—40 years before our nation's capital—and quickly became known for its Federal-style architecture, cobblestone streets, waterfront, and charming boutiques. The group also went on a self-guided tour of Georgetown University, a leading research university founded in 1789 as the nation's first Catholic institution of higher learning.

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, the students returned to Washington, D.C. proper and started the second day of their itinerary with a visit to the U.S. Capitol, where they met with Congressman Bill Pascrell and took a tour of the Capitol. Then the students walked over to the Supreme Court Building, which is also known as the "Marble Palace.

Following lunch at the U.S. Capitol Cafeteria, our students were eager to see more landmarks before heading back home. The teens visited the Washington Monument and the White House and later walked over to the Black Lives Matter Plaza. Then, to end their trip, the group went to the Lincoln Memorial, which was built to honor our 16th President Abraham Lincoln, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which is the first of its kind to honor an African American individual on the National Mall. These sites are all some of Washington D.C.'s most visited attractions!

The trip certainly made a lasting impression on our young leaders. One student said, "I'm very grateful that NJCDC gave me the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and gain new valuable information. This trip taught me that people in Paterson can achieve anything if they work hard!"

Another student stated, "Being able to get out of Paterson is something that I appreciate because getting exposed to other places is always a reminder that I can really do anything and go anywhere if I work hard enough. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from important people like Congressman Bill Pascrell and his Chief Counsel and Communications Director, Mark Greenbaum. It was nice to hear from those who are passionate about their work and the lives they impact through their work!"

NJCDC's Chief Program Officer David Gelman, who is also a Paterson Youth Council Advisor, said, "We are grateful to be able to share in seeing such significant national landmarks and sites with our Paterson Youth. It is a powerful experience to show them our capital where so many important decisions are made, and to watch them interact with New Jersey's leaders in Congress. I was especially impressed with the thoughtful conversations they had with Congressman Pascrell and Mr. Greenbaum about national issues. We look forward to the next trip to Washington!"

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