I Met the President
I've already written a little about the places that I loved visiting at Girls Nation, but one important one that I left out was visiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue- the White House.
Most Girls and Boys Nation groups get to visit or tour the mansion; our group got lucky enough to meet and receive an address from the new President. Wether you like President Trump or not, there is certainly something to be said about receiving an address from him. He spoke of a future for America that involved people like ourselves leading us, congratulated us on our hard work, and spoke well of the American Legion. Because I am so short, I ended up front and center- like four feet away from the President- and I also was able to shake his hand. If interested in what he had to say to some of America's emerging leaders, the YouTube video of the address tells all.
President Addresses Boys and Girls' Nationers
One of the most real things I learned from this experience was how media can twist things. We had come to represent the American Legion and its Auxiliary and to learn about government, but we were being slandered for merely being in the presence of a controversial President. Facebook comments calling us "Hitler's Youth" were hard to take in- especially after visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum. It seemed the internet was a harsh and outspoken battleground against us, a group of seventeen year olds excited to have made it as far into the program as we had. There were people in our group of all different political, religious, and cultural backgrounds and every single one of us was able to show respect while we were there. PSA: Think before you tweet.
Back to the main point though: meeting the President was awesome. We went through several layers of security and identification just to get in and then were guided around back to the Rose Garden to receive the address. One of the funniest parts was everyone needing to use the bathroom resulting in both men's and women's rooms being available for attendees- now while playing "Never Have I Ever" I can say I have used the men's bathroom at the White House.
We received a great address and then filed out to the bus after people started shouting from outside the gates.
This is such a great memory for me. ALA Girls Nation changed my perspective and my trajectory. I cannot encourage high school Juniors enough to apply for Boys and Girls State programs!
Happy Presidential Address listening!
Alix from Utah
For more on my ALA Girls Nation adventures, be sure to check out my post on ALA Girls Nation Washington, D.C. Highlights.