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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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National Young Leaders Conference inspires, educates

“Now if you all will repeat after me: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of the Republicans and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under me, indivisible, with liberty and no democratic justices on the Supreme Court.”

This twisted oath, spoken by a member of the Gross National Product comedy group portraying President Bush, elicited cheers and applause from the students and faculty of the National Young Leaders Conference (NYLC) on Oct. 22.

As one of 400 members invited to attend the NYLC in Washington D.C. on Oct. 19-24, I was able to participate in government simulations and see almost all of the famous landmarks in our nation’s capital.

Not knowing anything about the program, I was surprised at the invitation when it arrived in the mail. At first I was hesitant, but decided, after talking to some NYLC alumni (John Stevenson, ’04, and Jesse Madsen, ’05) to travel 3000 miles away from home for an experience I would never forget.

With students from as close as Bakersfield to as far away as Guam, the conference was a breeding ground for political ideas and debates. Being more of a conservative myself, I was interested to hear different viewpoints on issues challenging our nation today.

Seemingly running around nonstop for over 16 hours a day, the conference packed more activities in the six-day schedule than I thought was humanly possible. From discussing and acting out our simulations in our leadership group meetings to visiting all the memorials, there was barely time for me to catch my breath.

Of all the memorials, the World War II memorial was the most remarkable. Surrounded by columns representing each state and U.S. territory, the most commanding part of the memorial was the wall of gold stars. The west wall was covered with 4000 stars representing over 400,000 American casualties.

The majority of our time was spent in the leadership group meetings. In these gatherings, we performed the simulations assigned to us. We participated in three simulations, each one dealing with a different branch of our government.

During the executive simulation, my group had to deal with a hostage situation in the Congo. I found this simulation to be the least engaging. My role as the Internal Relations Committee chairman did not have many responsibilities.

In our judicial simulation, a council of justices had to determine the constitutionality of random drug testing in public schools for students in extra curricular activities. Against my will, our group determined the case unconstitutional. I found it interesting that the actual 2002 case was deemed constitutional.

The final simulation took place over two days. The first half was spent listening to different caucuses try to lobby their particular amendment to the homeland security bill we would vote on the next day. As a specialist for the democratic homeland security committee, my job was to question the testifiers concerning their proposed amendment.

The second day was spent in a session of Congress voting on each amendment and then the final bill itself. Because I was on a democratic committee, my conservative voting style did not go over too well with my colleagues. In the end the bill failed, much to my dismay.

By far the most interesting political event of the conference was our town hall debate. During the debate, a proctor would throw out a question and then anyone from the group could stand up and give their opinion. From issues ranging from social security and health care to a woman’s right to choose, heated arguments arose between liberals and conservatives.

Speakers for the week included former Washington representative, Al Swift (D), the controversial Truth campaign co-creator Erick Hong, and a panel from different humanitarian organizations.

For the most part, the week was worth the total 15 hours of traveling I endured. I now feel I have a better understanding of how the government works and the issues affecting the nation and the world.

For more information on the Congressional Youth Leadership Council (CYLC), go online to www.cylc.org to visit the homepage. There are many programs designed to inspire outstanding youth to reach their full leadership including the National Young Leaders Conference.

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