More than a week after the Iowa caucuses ended without a clear winner, many observers—and even the Democratic candidates themselves—have viewed the contest as an embarrassment and a failure.
But it was a transformative experience for University of Chicago students who spent three days in Iowa as part of a trip through the University’s nonpartisan Institute of Politics. They described their time in Iowa as “wild,” “beautiful,” “chaotic” and “incredible.”
While in Des Moines, UChicago students met national journalists and pollsters and local TV hosts, visited presidential candidate Tom Steyer and even toured the state capitol. But it was the actual caucusing—neighbors crammed into high school cafeterias and gymnasiums lobbying for their candidates—that was most memorable and valuable experience for students.
“As an international student, I never thought I’d be able to watch American politics unfold so closely,” said Raina Vishwanath, a fourth-year student from Mumbai. “The Iowa caucus is kind of like a surreal experience, even though you read about it and hear about it. You can’t really imagine what it’s going to be like unless you’re there, and to have that opportunity was really incredible.”