A government run by teenagers sounds like a 6th grade dream come true. This government, however, is not just a dream, it is a reality for juniors Christina Clark and Sang Yoon Oh. Every year, the American Legion gives delegates the opportunity to participate in a realistic, student run government. In this six day journey of student politics, delegates imitate the running of local and state governments, engaging in campaigns, law making sessions, and other activities.
Applicants to the program go through an intensive process. First, the candidate is asked to give information regarding their interests, dedications, and achievements. Then, those that show promise are interviewed by a panel, and one is selected to become a delegate.
“The interview process was terrifying… but it’s humbling; It’s the real thing. It really prepares you for a job interview,” Clark said.
“Be confident and optimistic during your interview. Be fully motivated to join the program,” Oh advised.
Both Clark and Oh are interested in scientific areas, and, while the program is politically based, both delegates express excitement over the program in its encouragement of leadership and other traits.
“It’s going to help me explore and understand the government,” said Clark, “I was curious about how governments run, and it will help me with getting along with other people.”
“I haven’t had many opportunities to be a leader,” Oh said, “I hope that [this program] will help develop skills that help me later in college and later in my career.”
Senior Natalie Bagaporo, last year’s Girls State delegate, confirmed the reward, saying that, “It was more enriching than I expected, I wouldn’t trade [the experience] for the world.”
Bagaporo was also interested in a scientific pursuit, yet she still found the experience rewarding for her in other aspects, saying, “I learned how to be a better leader by improving my communication. It really strengthened my leadership and I learned about different issues in California.”
For potential applicants, Bagaporo and Clark express the importance of researching Boys/Girls State before being interviewed for the delegate position. Bagaporo goes further to note that one should take risks and make the most of the program while they are there.
“Run for positions when you get there… Step out of your comfort zone. It looks good on your transcript but more importantly you [can] develop and strengthen traits as well as friendships.”