Ah yes, a lot can be said about our nation’s capital (Washington D.C.) and its many goings on, particularly when referring to current world issues. It seems that as every day passes the citizens of the U.S. are becoming continually frustrated with our government’s policies and their ability to enforce them (ahem, myself included.)

Unfortunately, as much as we love to complain about our circumstances, there are very few people who are actually privy to the history and real life events that have occurred in Washington D.C. over the years.

Apparently, I was one of those lucky people! Towards the end of my sixth grade year, I was nominated by a former teacher to travel to Washington D.C. through a distinguished program by the name of People to People.

For those of you who have never heard of this program before, it is an organization founded by former President Eisenhower sometime during the 1950’s (a.k.a. the rising of the Cold War.) Eisenhower’s theory was that the student leaders of the U.S. could make a connection with the student leaders of foreign countries to one day obtain peace between our nations.

Since then, People to People have selected an elite group of young adults to travel to culturally significant locations in the hopes of Academic enrichment.

Of course I was totally excited that I would even get to have such an amazing opportunity! I mean Democrat or Republican, catching a glimpse of George Bush would still be something to talk about!

It took a while of convincing but after a shocking (trust me) amount of fundraising (with reluctant return), my parents finally agreed to send me to our capital!!! I must admit, I did have some misgivings about going to a “Leadership Forum.” You always have to wonder whether or not you’re really cut out for the responsibility that comes along with something like this.

When I finally reached my destination however, I was met with over 220 participants ages 10-14 who were just like me; a (semi) normal kid who just wants to leave her mark on the world and take in all the new things she can while there’s still time. I’m so thankful that People to People were able to give me that reassurance.

Many adults I came in contact with at the forum (and at home as well,) were truly fascinated by the experiences we were able to have in Washington D.C. In truth, the whole point of the program was to learn and become more informed about our government so that we were able to make positive change in our individual communities.

Through all the monuments we visited, the museums we ate lunch at, and the archives we were able to look at-the message of leadership stayed the same. We were the future of America and it was our responsibility to make that future a positive one.

You know, that really hit hard with me. As much as our government may seem to make the wrong choices from time to time, we too have a voice and the obligation to utilize that voice. We have the ability to change the world even more so than our government, we simply need to unite as one to do so.

I believe this is an appropriate time to quote the wise words of JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your country!” for that is truly the effect People to People made on my life.

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