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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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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