7 Reasons To Join A Mock Government Program

7 Reasons To Join A Mock Government Program

Most importantly, they learn more about the values that make them better friends, leaders, and people within society.
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Politics: a word that doesn’t have the most positive connotation, especially when heard by today’s youth. The thoughts “boring” or “unexciting” usually come up in association to the word, specifically by those who are more interested in paying attention to their cell phones or what the latest news may be in celebrity gossip. Politics and government doesn’t always seem like thrilling topics to teenagers in today’s society, giving off the idea that maybe government is just for older adults.

But in mock government programs like Youth and Government, Model United Nations, and Boys and Girls State (alongside many others), confused teens have the opportunity to be take on a role that is similar to those on an actual government level. They have the ability to give speeches, debate, and work with those who want to improve society. I was in a program called Youth and Government where I got to work with individuals both on a state and national level, learning about different issues and writing about topics that mattered to me. Here are six reasons why joining the program was absolutely life-changing:

You broaden your perspective on different issues.

Before joining the program, I absolutely knew nothing about gentrification (or that it was an issue at all in many varying areas around the state). The topic was foreign to me, and I had no feelings on the matter. But through the program, I talked to people who knew so many different facts and statistics that they taught me how to create my own opinions and use my own judgment. With every speech or argument debate, my feelings would sway back and both until I officially had my own educated idea of an issue that mattered. Mock government programs teach you how to be knowledgable and who to make your own opinions, especially since every single person’s thoughts matter.

You learn to respect others for their opinions and become more open-minded.

With every individual who may share your beliefs and ideas on certain topics, however, there are always going to be individuals who may have a different perspective and viewpoint on the world that may not necessarily align with yours. And that’s okay—the world would be too boring if everyone agreed on everything. However, it’s important to be respectful and accepting of someone else’s opinion (even if you may not understand or agree with it), and these programs teach delegates the importance of respecting someone else’s opinions and understanding that not everyone thinks the same way.

You gain the opportunities of a lifetime.

I remember during my first year of Youth and Government, despite the fact that I didn’t have that much skill at debating or writing or speaking, a group of delegates and I were offered the opportunity to intern at the state house for a highly respected representative who wanted teens that were interested in government. Other opportunities included working at an office, a non-profit, and even a program that sought to teach younger kids about the basics of our democratic system. The reason for so many offers occurring was simple: people appreciated that a teenager, especially in today’s technological society, cared about our government and how the world was going to turn out. The opportunities only grew and grew as I became more experienced in the program, and more people wanted someone who could see beyond their own needs (and instead, see the world’s).

You get to bang a gavel (sometimes).

Even though it’s a mock government, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel real. You may get to bang a gavel, wear a robe, wear a badge—all the things that make government look cool.

You make connections.

Getting by in life is all about networking and meeting people to create strong, solid relationships with one another. Throughout my experience in a mock government program, I had the incredible opportunity to meet state senators, state representatives, chairmen, legislators, CEO’s, and many, many more important people who have such a huge impact on the world. My involvement in government exemplified my appreciation for the work they do to better our nation, and they appreciated me back for caring about the same issues they did.

You gain a family.

Never have I felt more welcomed, appreciated, respected, or loved than when I joined a group of people who were so different in so many ways (in appearance, ethnic background, social class, political opinion) but also so similar in so many ways (in our values, our drive, and our common desire to be involved in our government and form a better society). I made friendships that will last a lifetime (hailing from places like Delaware, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Ohio, Hawaii) with people who I’m sure would let me sleep on their couch if I was ever traveling the country, just as I would do for them.

You feel fulfilled and have fun.

Through these programs, teenagers have the ability to learn more about their country’s democratic processes and be involved in their government. But more importantly, they learn more about the values that make them better friends, leaders, and people within society—all the while enjoying themselves and feeling as though they’ve made a difference in the way youth are perceived. The growth that mock government programs allow is undeniable, and I wouldn’t have changed my experience for anything else in the world.

Cover Image Credit: Ryan Stranz

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.

rahma
rahma
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These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.

rahma
rahma

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