Young Leaders Visit Capital

Young Leaders Visit Capital

Genie Lee, Editor

Youth and Government visited Sacramento’s capital buildings for their final 5-day conference February 16 to 20. For the last time this year, the entire Acalanes High School district “embodied what the real government in the United States is, more specifically California’s government,” said sophomore Mia Asuncion.

Sophomore Sarah Carrasco said, “All the work that we’ve been doing, all the program areas we’ve been studying, everything kind of came to the final round this past weekend.”

“Everybody is divided into different groups. You have the legislative people, the lobbyists, the entire court program, etc. In each of those different program areas, they are in charge of doing different things. Some people wrote proposals, some people organized the state budget, others are passing bills,” said Carrasco.

Carrasco was assigned the role of an Assembly member and participated in the conference in Sacramento’s Assembly chamber. “It’s really cool to be sitting in the actual Assembly chamber. They are super strict about everything. No eating, drinking, chewing gum. Last year somebody decided to carve something in to one of the Assembly chairs so this year we had assigned seats and everything to make sure that same thing didn’t happen again,” she said.

Youth & Government students also got to do their work in the Capital building, in the same rooms as real state politicians. “You see in front of you each desk that is slightly personalized and they have their names on it. They’re really old. It’s really wild just to be sitting there and thinking, ‘Wow this is really amazing because it’s such a once in a lifetime opportunity that not a lot of people get the chance to experience,'” Carrasco said.

Asuncion was a bill sponsor, one of the members of the Assembly. “It was really nerve-racking because I had to present in front of over 130 people about a bill that I wanted to pass. That was really intimidating,” she said.

After the bills are proposed, “All those bills that everyone has written are put in a booklet and we discuss them and debate them and we vote on whether the bill should be passed,” said Carrasco. “We are tackling issues ranging from solutions to the drought to education reforms and reform in the health system.”

According to Asuncion, this type of hands-on experience is an effective way to learn about the government. “The Assembly is also tied in with the Senate and they balance each other out like we learn in school. We pass legislation, we debate topics, we say what’s reasonable with the state. We basically learn about the government not just talking about it but actually doing it,” she said.

The students prepared for each day in the early morning and would return to their hotel rooms as late as 10:00pm. “It’s really tiring. You are constantly going back and forth from different buildings, across towns, and you would be trying to do all these things depending on what program area you are in. It was really tiresome but overall a good experience,” said Asuncion.

“I am really sad that this was the last Y&G conference because being part of a community like this is really wonderful,” said senior Christine Wenzel. “But I’m glad that I still get to participate in another conference in October, so it’s not over for me yet.”