The students of Glendora High School, representing the San Gabriel delegation, demonstrated that Youth and Government branches out beyond merely the perceived notion of politics.
Simulating the numerous components of the government, the Young Men’s Christian Association Youth and Government program allowed the delegation’s trip to Sacramento to become a testament of not only their growth as a participating group, but as individuals.
Class of 2020’s Khushi Patel is currently in her second year of involvement in the program where she was initially not particularly interested in the realm of politics. Thus, her first year involved participating in General Assembly, where she was among a sea of students who had to be persuaded to be more inclined to vote in a specific manner.
Feeling more comfortable this year, Patel decided to reverse the roles and acted as a Lobbyist in the program. Serving as a pro/con speaker, she was assigned into a group of four where she had to present a three minute speech towards the Assembly.
However, what made the experience so notable for the junior was that when one teammate failed to show up, the remaining three were forced to create an impromptu speech on the spot.
“It was definitely a lot of fun because it challenged my group and allowed us to bond with one another,” Patel said.
Elijah Romero added onto the subject of spontaneity.
“You’re never 100% ready. I was always the type of person who was nervous because I never felt prepared, but Youth and Gov taught me that you don’t have to be,” Romero said.
Contrasting Patel, Romero has aims to be a Congressman in the future.
Reflecting back, he notes that his understanding of debate really cemented itself during his trip to Sacramento.
“It’s really important to look at both sides in any argument and it helped me branch out by enabling me to see so many varying perspectives,” Romero said.
To him, Sacramento was the best experience of his high school career. Romero went on to make history in the San Gabriel delegation as he got his proposed bill, which advocated to make all California state agencies only purchase zero emission vehicles beginning 2025, passed through the house, the senate and then signed by the youth governor.
Sophomore Serena Lin also made achievements as her International Affairs proposal made it to General Assembly where her group placed in the top four.
However, she doesn’t consider herself to be the typical Youth and Government kid. Acknowledging to being an introvert, Sacramento was a particular challenge for her.
“It’s a very welcoming community. It’s like everyone is seated at a round table where we’re all similar, despite the different pursuits in different departments. You’re ultimately all working together,” Lin said.
It was inspiring for Lin to see the collaboration that occurred and to witness how immersed and passionate each person was towards their personal department. The experience that Youth and Government offered helped her grow out of her shell and better her presenting and networking.
This ability to effectively communicate with others was apparent in junior Jessica Chiriboga. In her third year of involvement, she decided to run for the 72nd Chief Justice where her platform revolved around the accessibility of the court, feeling that no one should ever feel alone as they go through case laws or work on objections.
Youth and Government holds a special place in Chiriboga’s heart. Struggling with mental health issues, it became increasingly difficult to maintain her productivity levels.
“Celine Cuadra, who was Chief Justice during my sophomore year, and the rest of Supreme Court provided mental support that helped me finally, after so many months, see the value in my life,” Chiriboga said.
Youth and Government acted as salvation for her, she said.
Despite the varying degrees of interest in politics, each individual agreed that Youth and Government helped them grow in ways they never thought before.
The San Gabriel delegation demonstrated that the program truly does have a place for any and every individual.