No tears were shed, because I will see my new friends again.
Girls State…where to begin! It was a fabulous week if one overlooks the slight imperfection that it was a complete seven days with 350 girls and not one male. I digress, it was a great experience full of empowering speakers, budding friendships, and newly attained knowledge with a greater awareness of how our country is structured. “By the people, for the people” became a phrase of meaning as we conducted our own city, county, and state elections.
One surprising aspect of the whole week’s event was that just about all the participants were actually quite receptive. Sure, there were those few catty know-it-alls that tried pushing legislative doctrine down everyone’s’ throats, but for the most part they were put in their place.
From the beginning, I might have been a little hesitant to be placed in a different setting and know just about no one there, but after the week progressed faces became familiar and camaraderies formed. Not to mention, we were banded together against a common dilemma: boys, or the lack thereof. I can’t help but laugh that to my city mates I will forever be known for the “vacuum boy” incident. This, when further examined, proved a failed attempt to have a legible conversation with a staff member due to irrepressible fits of giggles. I did manage to relay that I really appreciated the work that he was doing, vacuuming chairs and all. Although I had forgotten to ask for a name, hence the acquired title “vacuum boy.”
My city had another common problem; we could never remember how to say our city name: Sah-Kay-Tay. We always confused it with other cities, either consolidating Sah-Kay-Tay with Shingobee to breed “Sah-kobee” or even just calling it “Soh Kah Toa.” Reminiscing now, our city grew very close; I think back to our first county election. Our city had elected a candidate, Nikki, to be our county sheriff. We assumed no one would dare challenge Sah-Kay-Tay’s choice, but alas there was another girl, Hannah, who decided to run as well. The poor girl! We didn’t know her, but the next two days our city had a new mission: completely annihilate the competition. We proceeded to make pins, posters, and slogans that would assure our candidate the winner, moreover, while also throwing Hannah intimidating looks whenever possible. Our hard work paid off. Nikki overcame, yet it really felt as though our whole city had won.
Throughout the next few days all of the girls campaigned for positions. I, myself, was a House Representative. When we took a trip to the capitol I was able to sit in the room of the House of Representatives to vote and discuss bills the girls had written prior to, simulating a real situation where the House was in session. My favorite part of that day was using the privilege to send messages across the room using pages. We sent “extremely confidential” notes to each other, which contained cryptic messages of “take action immediately” and “the thing is imperative at this moment!”
However, my favorite moment of all time was without a doubt when Betty Wall spoke. Betty Wall gave a speech relating to how she became a pilot in the 1940s and the opposition she faced, as at that time women did not fly. She mentioned that she wanted to apply for a position as a flight instructor but was told that she would be better suited as a secretary and there was an opening at the front desk. She stated, “I told them where to put their front desk.” Betty Wall is a great character, with an inspiring message of following through with one’s dreams no matter how great the opposition, plus she has the most infectious laugh.
There were countless many other events that took place, such as the Inauguration on Thursday when the Governor and Lt. Governor were announced, but the ones explained were the favorites. As with all good times, Girls State inevitably had to come to an end. I left more knowledgeable, and with newly acquainted friends. The final moments were emotional and bittersweet. I had to leave the friends to whom I’d bonded so closely in only just a week. Yet, no tears were shed, for one day I shall see them once again.
Reyes is interning this summer at the Crookston?Daily Times.