Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What I Learned at VGS

About a week after school was out, I attended a program called Volunteer Girls State. The program, for those of you who have no idea about what I’m referring to, is a week long foray into the government.
You learn about each branch of the government as well as creating a fictional state government. But VGS is so much more than that.

Weeks before I went to VGS I began worrying about it. As you may know, I’m a Democrat living in a primarily Republican state. Naturally, I dreaded that there would be no other girls with my same views on world issues. I knew that I would stand up for what I believe in, but I was afraid that I would be the only one.
HA! That was yet another example of my worrying too much.

What I found after I unloaded the majority of my personal belongings into my dorm room, was a group of girls that I never expected.
My roommate Samiha, Khushbu, and myself 
My roommate and I had long talks at night making fun of Republicans and laughing hysterically. I met a girl named Niman on the first day and guess what? She’s a Liberal! In fact, she ended up representing us in Girls Nation.

I met a girl who I would later refer to as Soul Sister Julia. Our first conversation went something like this:
Soul Sister Julia and I before the Gubernatorial  inauguration 

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. I’m in the way.
Julia: No! You’re fine!
Me: Those are cool… glasses.
Julia: Thanks!
Me: My name’s Sara. I’m incredibly awkward.
Julia: My name’s Julia and I’m incredibly awkward as well. We’re going to be great friends.
I met two fantastic girls in chorus and talk to them nearly everyday.

Chorus girls! Emily, me, and Gabby 
It made me incredibly happy to see myself break out of my shell. When I came there, I was a shy and extremely reserved person. Now I am not afraid of talking to strangers. I’m not afraid to show the world who I am. I’m not afraid to say, “Yeah,  I’m a Democrat. Tell me why it’s wrong to have an opinion that differs from yours.”
There was something that a speaker said at the closing ceremony that really made a lump form in my throat. She said, “Parents, VGS is known for igniting a spark within young women to make a change for the better in this world. When you go home today you will see this spark in their eyes. Absolutely DO NOT try to extinguish that flame. If anything, let it grow. Let them catch fire. And girls, never let yourself or anyone else dim your flame. You are important and you CAN make a difference.”

Needless to say, I went home sobbing. I was sure that I would never have friends as beautiful and kind as those that I met over the week. These people knew me at six o’clock in the morning when I shambled into the bathroom with crazy hair and no make up. And you know what? They didn’t care.  But just as I was wrong in thinking that I would be the only Liberal out of 500+ girls, I know that I will be wrong in thinking that I will never again find friends as beautiful and as intelligent as the girls that I met while I was there.
I love you all!

Dear reader, take my advice and live as if everyone you meet already knows you and accepts you. Sure, you'll run into a few angry souls along the way, but I assure you that there are far more caring people in the world than you know.

Peace, love, and bed-heads,

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