Sunday, June 15, 2008

Girls State O8!

Background June 8-13 I spent attending Girls' State, which in a nutshell is just a mock government camp where girls from all over Idaho, 300 that is, come together for a week at Northwest Nazarene University to learn about democracy, and how our government really works. One of their biggest goals is to teach patriotism, and to instill good values into the hearts of all Americans. :) haha
It is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, and whenever anyone would ask, "Who sponsors Girls' State?" We would all jump
out of our chairs and shout "The American Legion Auxiliary sponsors Girls' State!" [[picture is of our city during inauguration, I'm 7th in from the top right]]

You might ask Why the heck would any 17 year old girl want to go to patriotic boot camp?! And quite frankly, I asked myself the very same question at first. It was back in probably March when a representative from the Auxiliary came to my school and recruited girls to attend, and without thought I knew I would go when she said how good it looked on college apps. A lot of my friends were all saying they were going to go also, so it was all good and dandy until they started dropping like flies, telling me politics just wasn't for them. Ugh!

So time went on, and 300 dollars later I was dreading my attendance. But, after lots of complaining and such, I packed my stuff (like an hour before I had to go, mind you, and my parents forcing me to change out of the sweats I had planned on wearing there) and drove out to Nampa to go to Girls' Hell, as I had coined it.

However, my mindset changed as I stepped out onto the campus. All around me were capable, amazing girls, and it was weird to think I would be one of them! I said bye to my dad, went to my room, met my roommate, and the festivities began! :)

As me and my roommate, Kody, walked into the room I stopped dead in my tracks. Staring at me was Makel Michael, one of my best friends who lives in Idaho Falls! We pretty much freaked out. You see, there were 300 girls here, and only 30 in my city. (All 300 of us were one "state" called "Syringa" separated into three "counties" which were "Justice", "Freedom" and "Democracy" and in each county there were three "cities", nine total.)What kind of odds were those that she would be there, let alone that she would be in my city! We were stoked!
[[top: our city during our county party, bottom: Miranda Simonson, Makel Michael, and me at the Girls' Nation presentation]]
Sunday was pretty much just spent in introductions by the staff, and Governor Megan and Senators Kennedy and Julie. These three girls all attended Girls' State in 2007, and were selected to come back to run it in 2008. During our introductions we ate lots of food, but sadly they didn't like catering to vegetarians, so all week I was eating endless ice cream and some salad with shady dressing :) We also got lots of pictures taken and learned all about proper flag etiquette. Hold your hand up to your heart, at a 90 degree angle until the flag is either all the way up the pole or until the last grommet has been unhooked. Lawrence Wasden, our attorney general, and his wife, Laurie, also spoke to us. Other things we did Monday were campaigning for city positions. We ran for mayor and four chairwomen. I decided to run for mayor.

[[ us eating on the first day together! Makel Michael, Miranda Simonson, Suzy Sunshine, Jennifer VanderHock, Kathleen Vardell, Keegan Nitz, Kody Averett, and me]]
Monday began freakishly, at 6, and we were supposed to get up, showered, dressed, and ready by 7, when we would be eating breakfast. We did just that, and after eating attended flag ceremony, and conducted some city business. We listened to campaign speeches for mayor, chairwomen, and then voted. Sadly I didn't win, but the beauty of Girls' State is that there are 4.8 billion positions to run for! We then just got to know each other by playing games and dancing like mad 3/4 of the time. We also met in our respective parties, the "Nationalists" and the "Federalists" and elected officials. I was a "Fed". I ran for secretary, but again, lost to girls more qualified. Dang it! We learned a lot of cheers so we could defeat the "Nats" in a party rally on Tuesday. It was really fun! After dinner we filed for office in our counties, and I decided to run for county commissioner. After filing for office we were allowed to go back to our cities and go to bed! It was the longest day of my life, and I was exhausted. You see, at Girls' State we were running 17-18 hour days, and that is if you got to go to bed at 12! (which was more than ideal with campaigning). I was beat, and frankly, I didn't know if I would be able to get through the rest of the week![[top: I taught them the funny face game! Farrah Fuller, Shayla Winder, and me. bottom: Me, Alexis DiSanza, Farrah Fuller, Shayla Winder, Suzy Sunshine Smith, Brooke Millward at county filing.]]
Tuesday again, began at 6. After getting ready we went to breakfast, flag raising, and then went to our political parties. Here we wrote our party's platform and learned lots of fun cheers to do at our lunchtime rally. At lunch we ate, and then had our rally. Pretty sure us Feds killed the Nats with cheers like, "Hey Feds! What's Oprah?" "Oprah is a Fed! Oprah is a Fed! Oprah is, Oprah is, Oprah is a Fed!" and like Spongebob's FUN song, we sang "F is for Fine cuz we're really sexy, E is for Extra awesome, D is for Domination, S for Super Skillz, Feds are gonna rock your world!" We had so much fun! And like I said, we squashed those Nats! :) After lunch we went to our county campaigns divided into parties. We gave our speeches, but I didn't even have to give one because I was going to win by default, seeing as there were 3 girls running for commissioner in our party, and there were three commissioners. After these speeches we listened to state official campaigns, and then we got to go to our cities and vote. We then had dinner, listened to Senators Kennedy and Julie give us the lowdown on Girls' Nation, which is where 2 elected girls from our Girls' State go Washington DC with other elected girls from around the US. That took forever, and then we had to stay to hear who made it to the general elections for state and county elections. I made it! YES! haha

[[me and Suzy eating some lunch.. notice the ice cream in her hand. Staple of our diets!]]
Wednesday followed the same routine as other days, going breakfast, flag raising, and then we had our county general campaigns. This time I did have to give a speech, and I talked about DEMOCRACY being a big word with a little meaning- the right to vote. But TRUST being a small word with a big meaning- that you could put your beliefs, views, and everything in the hands of someone to make laws for you. Trust is so important in democracy. Why vote if you cannot trust? So yeah, that was the basic premise of my spiel. After general county, we went and listened to general state. Then we went to our cities to vote. After that we ate lunch and made poppies, which are the flowers that veterans make, and the ALA pays a small amount to the veterans for their work. For some veterans, this is their only form of income. The poppies are then given away for donations. Following, we congregated for election results, and well, you can call me the head Democracy County Commissioner! haha thats right, I finally won something. What a relief! :) Afterwards, we met in either the House or Senate. I was chosen to be in Senate, which I was happy about. There we elected officials for the Senate. Next we went to a "Self Defense/Awareness" class, and the ate dinner, followed by county meetings. The county meeting was so fun! I got to run it, and we basically just listened to hilarious problems that the different members of the county had, like individuals peeing on their property, and their concern for it seeping into their aquifer and such. We would try to find solutions by forming committees and compromises. Then we got to get "married" to county members, sign death certificates, get arrested by the sherriff, and do taxes! Afterward we went back to our city room, had a meeting, and then just hung out, and I gave all the girls who wanted them henna tattoos with the henna I'd brought (if you don't know, henna is a Indian- not Native American- religious art with this paste that dyes your skin for a few weeks.)

[[our sweet matching foot tats!]]
Man, my city mates LOVED IT. We tattooed like crazy, and gave everyone a heart with an "8" inside, symbolizing our city, City 8, on our feet. It was so fun! Thursday night we didn't get to bed until around 3 because we were having too much fun laughing in our room. I love my city girls!Woooh! I thoght this day was really fun.

[[ top: our city cleaned up at county elections! l Kathleen Vardell, Lana Barg, Jerica Haley, me, Kiana Wilcox, Jennifer VanderHock, and Tiff Hassell. middle: Makel Michael and me getting married! bottom: Us girls staying up! Me, Miranda Simonson, Hailie Pullin, Kody Averett, Ashley Smith, Tammy Parker, Jennifer VanderHock]]
Thursday was quite the day. After breakfast and flag raising we met in either the House or Senate to get into our various committees to amend bills us girls had written before coming to Girls' State. I was on the Environment and Natural Resources committee. We read through about 14 bills and amended them accordingly. My bills was about mandatory emissions testing for all counties. After that we went to lunch and then we went back to the Senate for 5 hour Senate Session.

[[You can't tell, but I was pointing to our agenda where it says we are doing Senate from 1-6.. thats why Miranda and I are so sad... :)]]
Yes, you read that right, we sat in the Senate from 1-6 debating bills girls had written. But no worries! It was actually kind of fun to stand up and in perfect parliamentary procedure and voice your opinion about the bill, make amendments, and vote! It was seriously some democracy in action, and made me believe that democracy is the way to go. (for the US, that is.) After our marathon meeting we had dinner, and listened to Captain Andrea Plummer, 4th runner up in Miss America 2006, air force woman and serving pediatrician talk about her service. It was really interesting, and even though military service is definitely not for me, it was really interesting. Later we went to Talent Night, and let me tell you, I saw some serious talent. You see, the girls who go to Girls State are the cream of the crop. Most have credentials up the wahzoo, have been in FFA since they came out the womb, and are some junior leader in young Republicans group. And those were the mediocre girls. I mean, talk about some serious power these girls had. It was sort of intimidating, but I just saying my Eleanor Roosevelt mantra all week, that "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent". But back to talent night, not only were these girls amazing in the leadership niche of life, they were accomplished composer like pianists, singers, dancers, and wow.. I really felt untalented! After talent night we went back to our cities and had a city party complete with dance parties, pizza, and talking about what we had gained from coming to GS. We didn't finish until around 1:30, so me and my friends decided who really needed to sleep? We pulled an all nighter instead. :) Little did we know how much we'd suffer Friday!

[[top: Me, Kody, and Ashley doing a pyramid at 4 in the morn. middle: me, Ashley, and Kody just being dumb during our all nighter. bottom: me, Ashley, and Kody represent the eastside.. the east side of the dorms, that is :)]]
Friday was the last day at Girls' State. It went really fast, and I don't know if that is cuz I just kept falling asleep in meetings or what. Yeah, the all nighter killed me. At breakfast we were singing "Here We Have Idaho" and lets just say the melodious, lullaby pretty much was putting me to sleep if I wanted to go or not, and I had to hold onto the table for dear life so I wouldn't fall onto the ground and pass out!

[[Makel and me eating our granola and yogurt.. what we ate each morning instead of the rubber waffles!]]
After flag raising we had to go to Senate, and I was gone! I fell asleep, and when I woke up I was just so out of it, I didn't know what was going on, and so I just tuned out. :) After our last Senate meeting we went to an outside picnic, and slept in the grass. Afterwards we went to a run through of inauguration which would take place that night, and gave out awards for the "outstanding citizen" of each city. I received ours, which was pretty cool. After this we went back to our dorms, and I slept for a few hours until I had to get ready for inauguration. At 6 we all went to our final dinner at GS. Everyone got all fancied up for this, and pretty sure mostly Mormon girls go to GS, so it was basically "sleeve city" as I liked to call it :) After eating we went to our inauguration ceremony. And I have a funny escort story to tell now.

[[top: Mom Krystal and me before inauguration. middle: Miranda, me, and Makel during dinner. bottom: Makel and I had some seriously sore feet after wearing heels all week long!]]
Okay, you see boys are not allowed in any way, shape, or form at GS, except for at inauguration, and lets just say everyone was pretty stoked for this night! And the best part was that we would actually come in physical contact with two guys, our escorts, former Boys' State delegates, to help us down the stairs. Everyone was excited, and we just hoped we didn't get stuck with ugly escorts! Well, it was just our luck that there was one ugly escort and one cute one. But much to our dismay, the troll was on our side. :( Our whole city was very dismayed. haha but when the ceremony started, we realized we could take both the escorts' hands! Yes! It was when girls started doing this that I turned to Makel and said, "Makel! We have to give the hot escort my number!" We just laughed at first, but then decided it would be the best thing ever to do. So, we devised a plan. I wrote my name and number down on a slip of paper, and she would deliver it because she was wearing white gloves, which would totally camouflage it! We were both nervous as we got closer in line. If we got caught doing this at such a formal occasion, we didn't know what would happen to us! Makel went first. She walked across the stage, shook the directors hand, received her GS pin, switched the pin and paper in her hands, and when walking down the stairs, delivered the paper. I watched his face as he got it, and elements of surprise, glee, and embarrassment flooded in. He quickly slipped it in his pocket, I smiled, and walked across the stage. It was so funny! Funny thing is that this kid was my GS friend, Ashley's, best friend's boyfriend! So she couldn't believe we had done it, but thats just how we roll, living on the edge! :)

And that is the end of my Girls' State experience. After inauguration we took pictures, said goodbye, and packed up our stuff. My parents came to get me, and it was sad! I had made so many good friends this week, and even though lots live in the Boise or surrounding area, many others live away in all ends of rural Idaho. So, thats it. Girls' State was one of the best experiences of my life, and I advise every single junior girl to attend. It is so fun, and even if you don't like politics you will gain something from it. I'm just glad I had the change to experience it myself.

1 comment:

Ashlee said...

So Alyssa, looks like you joined the world of 'myspace for old people' ;) haha
It looks like you had a blast at Girls State!! I enjoyed reading about it all and the fun pictures! Love you!