Friday, July 24, 2009

A Silent Week

Out of all of Benjamin Franklin's virtues, silence is the virtue I have the most trouble with. At Girls Nation, however, every day has succeeded in rendering me speechless. They have killed my teenage girl habit of talking far too much. The first day, spent visiting Arlington National Cemetary, I did not know what to say at the graves of great men such as Robert F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall, and Oliver Wendall Holmes. These are the men I quote in hopes of sounding inspirational. Now, I find their graves to be as inspirational as their words which ask me to be someone better. The second day, the young women of Girls Nation were honored with the voyage to the 911 Pentagon Memorial. Here, we learned about Zoe Falkenberg, born the same year as many of us, who died on September 11, 2001. Tuesday, I cried far too much to be able to speak. Nesse Godin gave one of the most inspirational speeches on how she survived the Holocaust. Wednesday, I spent much time with vice presidential candidate, Marylin Wang, inbetween voting and waiting for the election results. We sat in silent nervousness in her room. Thursday, I was honored to meet one of my political heroes, Senator Richard Lugar. I prepared a multitude of questions and compliments to ask the senator when I met him. When I saw him, however, I could not speak, neither could the rest of the Indiana senators. A powerful senator, particularly reguarding foreign affairs, Lugar was intimidating. Senator Lugar then took the Indiana Senators out to lunch in the Senate Dining room. We exchanged silent looks when we read the sign "Senators Only Beyond This Point". Eventually, we all worked up the courage to thank him for the Lugar-Nun Act. We asked him about current legislation. We were very lucky. That day I not only met Senator Lugar, but Evan Bayh, Ron Paul, and many others. We witnessed a speech given by John McCain. None of the Indiana delegates, boys or girls, could say anything, but we smiled at each other. Finally, Friday came. Today we took a trip to the Smithsonian, became a test audience for the television program "Glee", and, most importantly, graduated from Girls Nation. Girls were presented with Scholarships and gasped. Their thanks was not spoken but proven by their hugs they gave to the American Legion Auxiliary ladies. These breathtaking moments, will make our trip unforgettable. Silence is a virtue. Silence enables you to learn. I have never learned more then I have at the 63rd Annual American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation.

Respectfully Submitted,
Allison Feikes (IN) Bethesda Community

Last But Certainly Not Least

Bethesda: Jaimie Ermak and Rita Murjani

As the girls faced their final day at Girls Nation, both joy and gloom reverberated the halls of the chamber. The day began with another session in the Senate where hot topics such as foreign policy and veterans affairs were debated to their fullest extent; to alleviate the tension of a constantly dynamic schedule, a trip to the Smithsonian Museum of American History was in order. The girls observed everything from Dorothy's ruby slippers to Dolly Madison's ball gown to Julia Child's kitchen; the museum presented a slice of American history from every angle imaginable. One particularly inspirational piece was the antediluvian flag of our forefathers which sparked the authorship of the "Star Spangled Banner." Upon their return to the 4-H Youth Conference Center, the girls were rewarded with a pizza party and the elite privilege of viewing the Fox television pilot "Glee." Many of the girls collaborated with their newly found friends to create cheers in the hopes of appearing on national television advocating the show. The Senate reconvened for the final time, and the girls were eager to prove themselves through debate, knowing this was the last opportunity to voice their opinions on the currently proposed legislation. President Rachel Lipstein concluded the session with the traditional signing of the passed bills as the authors watched on with pride in their accomplishments. The commencement ceremony awaits us as we stand by with bated breath for the denouement of our long and arduous journey.
We leave you all with these final words of inspiration: "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." - Mohandas Gandhi

American Legion Auxiliary President Visit to Girls Nationa

Lorenda S. Lawrence - LA

Assistant Girls Nation Director

Delegates to the 88th National Convention of the American Legion Auxiliary elected Desiree A. Stoy as National President during the close of the organization's convention in Phoenix. Stoy visited the 63rd Annual Girls Nation Session, in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She attended the inauguration of Girls Nation President Rachel Lipstein of New York and Girls Nation Vice President Marilyn Wang of Missouri in the Nations Capitol Building, each were presented with a gavel and a US flag that had been flown over the Capitol. Stoy also addressed the Girls Nation attendees and congratulated all the participants for completing the American Legion Auxiliary eight (8) day program.

Voices of Angels

Norma Tramm - MN
Music/Reflections Chairman

Make a joyful noise - and that is exactly what Girls Nation provided:) When we arrived on Wednesday evening at the Lincoln Memorial, the Senators of Girls Nation sang three songs. It is amazing what these talented young women can do with very little practice. Many visitors to the Monument interrupted their tours to capture the wonderful sounds produced on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
THANK YOU seems inadequate to say for the GREAT PERFORMANCE from the choir at the Banquet on Thursday evening. You sang with feeling and helped all in attendance to recognize that you truly are the HOPE for the future. FANTASTIC MUSIC SENATORS!!!

Thursday evening was also an opportunity for Senators to showcase their individual talents. It is quite obvious that we will be seeing Senators from 2009 Girls Nation in the NEWS in the future. The audience was an integral part of the evening. Thanks so much for your participation.

The results are in!

On Wednesday, July 22 four ladies eagerly awaited the results of the 2009 Girls Nation Presidential Elections.

Let's Recap:
The Nationalist Party Candidates are:
Presidential: Senator Laura Gamble, Spring Valley, SC
Vice President: Senator Jamie Wood, Bethesda, UT
The Federalist Party Candidates are:
Presidential: Senator Rachel Lipstein, Chevy Chase, NY
Vice President: Senator Marilyn Wang, Georgetown, MO

So after a round of Whistle Stop Campaigning and non stop rallying, the winner is ( drum roll .............. ) the Federalist Party! So Congrats to President Lipstein and Vice President Marilyn Wang for their victories!!

Tales of the "Bus Lady"

Peggy Brown - NM
Senior Counselor - AKA "The bus lady"

Holy Moly!! Last day. This has been the longest week of my life, and the shortest. The young women attending this session are amazing. Georgetown ROCKS! I have been renamed "Transportation Queen" or the "Big Bus", depending on who you ask. Tomorrow will be a long one as the first bus for the airport leaves at 3:45 AM, so I will be up and at 'em before the chickens are up and your kids will be tired puppies when they get home.

Banquet last night was great and the girls all looked like princesses, and then on to another Senate session. We ended the night with a talent show. (Note to Staff: Don't give up your day jobs). Today it's the Smithsonian American History Exhibit and back here for a pizza party.

Pic is closing the Girls Nation store today :-( It's probably a good thing as I have already had to ship one box home......

Well it's about time to get the signs for the buses. We will see you all tomorrow, tired......oh so tired.

Another great day!

Roxanne Hiatt - NE
Senior Counselor

Good Morning. Sr Counselor of Chevy Chase here. I am tired today - and so are the girls. It was a busy day on Capitol Hill yesterday. In talking with them last night some had really good experiences and some were a little disappointed, but all in all a good day.

The rain made a real challenge of navigating. The new Capitol Visitors Center was open and really beautiful. We were given House and Senate gallery passes and many of us took advantage of them. I know I did. I saw my own Representative Adrian Smith of Nebraska on the floor in the morning. We also saw Senators McCain of Arizona and Lieberman of Connecticut on the floor of the Senate. It was interesting. Also took a minute to go through the Botanical Gardens.

It's been a great week. All in Chevy Chase have been well (except for a few allergies and blisters) . Looking forward to pizza later. I've enjoyed all my Senators and many thanks to our favorite JC, Virginia. I wish everyone safe travels home tomorrow. Thanks for the memories.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

So soon?

Kay Oskvig


Junior Counselor

Greetings from Girls Nation!

As the junior counselor for the most fun community here at Girls Nation, I've really enjoyed working with my wonderful Senators, Senior Counselor Lynda, and the rest of the staff this week. On Sunday, I informed the girls that the week may seem slow at first (due to the busy schedule!!) but once Wednesday coces around, the time will fly bye...And it certainly has!

Today we all boarded the bus at 5:45 a.m. After a great breakfast on the bus, we took a tour of the White House and then headed to the Capitol Building to meet our Senators and Representatives. The girls were very excited to meet up with their Boys Nation counterparts, and enjoyed time exploring between appointments.

After sitting through a half hour in the Senate Gallery, fellow JC, Erin, and I were informed by security that we needed to "look more awake" or would need to leave. Sadly, we decided to leave... No makeup or water was allowed into the Capitol! :)

We were delighted to have a wonderful banquet - it was so fun to see the girls in their gorgeous dresses! - prior to heading to a short Senate session. The JCs have been busy counting votes: we've had to recount a few times!

Norma Tramm, GN Music Director, organized an astounding talent show, complete with original compositions, musical theatre, and several adorable skits. Great job, girls!

Sadly, our time is almost over here...but more importantly, its my bedtime! Perfect timing... 11:11, make a wish for a happy Friday!

Smiles from, Kay

Over the Hill

Emily Meade (right)
Exeter, New Hampshire
Kate Miller (left)
Omaha, Nebraska

In our pockets the two of us now proudly carry copies of the US Constitution autographed by none other than our favorite zealot (and choice for the Supreme Ruler of Everything), Ron Paul. While on Capital Hill today, we made a long and onerous pilgrimage in order to pay tribute to the Grand Master himself. His Greatness even left meetings to take pictures with us and to give us great big hugs. Needless to say, it was the "bom-digity" of the entire week thus far.

Despite the lack of sleep last night (about 5 hours), we have found our creative juices to be rich and flowing. We are currently producing a play about our wonderful junior counselor Kay. Although, we know she is worried about the content of this play, it portrays her in only the best and most flattering light. She is a wonderful person and even gave us cards with kittens (and flowers) on them. Not only does she keep us pumped full of sugar, she also fills us with inspiration for our futures and helps us get through the long days.

While spending time with His Greatness, Representative Ron Paul was the highlight of the day, we did keep our appointments with the other entities on the Hill, including Jeanne Shaheen, Judd Gregg, Ben Nelson, and Mike Johannes. We can say with assurance that the country is in good hands. And very busy hands. The amount of work that these people do is amazing, and we are very greatful to have been given the opportunity to meet these wonderful, talented, and generous individuals. Other spotting's included John Kerry, John McCain, some oil lobbyists, Caral Shea-Porter and the underground train.

After returning to the REAL Senate, here at Girls Nation, we slaved over the intensely debated bill regarding the repealment of the No Child Left Behind Act. Both sides of the argument made excellent points; however, the nay-sayers won out. The session was followed by the even more important, and fun, TALENT SHOW, which featured our amazingly skilled peers. We witnessed ballet, first-class flute-playing, a violin virtuoso, marvelous singers, and some truly fabulous comedians. Our only complaint is that the show just ended, and we are once again headed to only a few hours of sleep.

None the less, we are stoked to be here, and are greatful to the American Legion Axillary for all of the work that they have done and all of the opportunities that they have provided us.

Sleepily yours,

Kate and Emily

Thursday, July 23: An Early Morning at the White House and a Day on Capitol

Senator Eva Outzen - VA


Federalist Keynote Speaker

We woke up early this morning (around 4:30 am for all you fellow morning showerers) and eager, full of expectations and anticipations!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Girls Nation---Pic's Pit Stop Store

Pic Webster

Store Keeper


Hey Shoppers!!! Great buys are still available at the Girls Nation store. Not much shopping time left, but we can still take care of your shopping needs.

After a very busy work week and a lot of fun too as a GN Senator in Chevy Chase, Maryland, don't forget those near and dear to your heart---in otherwards--- remember them with a small remembrance from "Pic's Pit Stop."

We have some great "Stuff" for a mere dollar or two. And some a little more. Sale items are hot right now! What about a neat little stress souvenier (a replica of the US Capital) for Dad, only a $1.00. And don't forget that little sister that is missing you. A cute Girls Nation T--also $1.00. She will love you lots. And little brother and sister will be getting ready soon to go back to school so why not pick up a light weight back pack of fushia or blue. Only two bucks each. Your mom would look really good in a pair of our "Flip Flops" in red and white for only a dollar.

Maybe you have more money left than you thought and a Girls Nation sweatshirt with a design of Washignton D.C. landmarks for $10.00 would be a treat for Mom. We also have a very nice windshirt for Dad at $15.00.

The Pit Stop has been very busy and inventory is limited-so don't wait- not much time left to shop! Watch for last minute mark downs!!!! Just like "Wal-Mart," falling prices to close out your Girls Nation experience. There is still time to get that T-shirt for you Boys Nation counterpart.

It's been a pleasure to serve you. Pic

Polls are closed and the votes being counted.

It's that time!
The votes are being tallied who will win!

President and Vice President Candidates

Federalist Party Candidates

Presidential: Senator Rachel Lipstein, Chevy Chase, NY
Vice President: Senator Marilyn Wang, Georgetonw, MO

Party Chair: Senator Francesca Moree, Alexandria, IL
Party Vice Chair: Senator Anna Zhou, Rockville, IL

Nationalist Party Candidates
Presidential: Senator Laura Gamble, Spring Valley, SC
Vice President: Senator Jamie Wood, Bethesda, UT

Party Chair: Senator Megan Modic, Foggy Bottom, MA
Party Vice Chair: Senator Addison Keegan-Harris, Bethesda, KS

Senate Officers

President Pro Tem: Senator Olivia Tyrrell, Chevy Chase, ND

Secretary: Senator Kelly Fitzpatrick, Rockville, NJ

Assistant Secretary: Senator Ambria McDonald, Chevy Chase, MS

Chaplain: Senator Jennifer Oakes, Spring Valley, VA

Sergeant-at-Arms: Senator Mariah Gengozian, Foggy Bottom, WY

Assistant Sgt.-at-Arms: Senator Madelyn Johnstone, Foggy Bottom, NJ

Senate News Reporter: Senator Ava Goepfert, Foggy Bottom, AK

Senior Counselor

Peggy Brown

HUMP DAY!! What a week so far. Girls are getting ready for party rallies, so the joint is really jumping. Georgetown's own Marilyn Wang is the Fed candidate for VP, GO FEDS. Will be visiting the Boys State Senators later today, that should be fun, then songs at the Lincoln Memorial. Another full day at Girls Nation

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Day of Remembrance

Eva Wallace - WA
Senior Counselor

We started our day at the Holocaust Museum - what an absolutely moving experience. The family pictures that were saved and on walls, including the woman who started the collection of pictures as a little child in her father's arms. We walked through another area where pictures that were drawn by the children in the concentration camps were exhibited.
This evening we heard from Nessie Godin, a survivor. Her story gives us hope and inspiration for the girls to remember and carry into their own futures.

I am enjoying the week here. The girls are truly the best and we know from seeing and hearing them in all the different venues, that our future will be in good hands. They understand what is happening in these very complex times and I am proud that we, as an Auxiliary, give them this opportunity to share their dreams with each other.

Holocaust Lessons

Senator Megan Stevenson - TX
Chairwoman Committee F

I fear that when mankind begins to accept the dead as a number, a statistic, that we lose a bit of our humanity, our empathy and ability to appreciate life.

We live in a society that has become desensitized to tragedy, I fear, nearly entirely, I began to sense it myself as I would watch the news, listening to reports of death and oppression and changing the channel after the evening weather report thoughts rarely returning to or lingering on the devastation elsewhere.

This changed for me one day as I was studying at the Starbucks in my neighborhood. The television displayed a silent but captioned episode of The Oprah Winfrey show, an in-depth look at the child soldiers of a small village in Africa, I became engrossed as did the two middle-aged women sitting next to me, we began a conversation as the show ended, discussing the absolute tragedy of it all. As our discussion came to a close I for some reason or another felt inclined to ask the women what they felt was our responsibility to do about the terrible events we had discussed occurring in different areas of Africa.

They shocked me, "well that's not really our responsibility, really it's the African government that needs to step up."

I was speechless. A strong feeling of conviction gripped my heart, was this manner of thinking widespread in America? I expected at least a suggestion to pray or join a community volunteer, or education outreach effort. Nessie mentioned tonight that a Holocaust is allowed to happen when people do not take responsibility for their fellow human beings, they let labels and politics and superficial reasoning get in their way.

I resolved to never let myself reach a place, where the death of one could brake my heart more than the mass murder of millions. It saddened me that as a democratic nation Americans particularly could face such a tragedy with so little emotion and sense of responsibility.

The ladies whose presence I am blessed with have assured me through their legislature and debate within this small collection of 98 girls democracy is sure to never become a spectator sport.

Let the Girls Nation senators tell you the topics of tuesday!

Sarah Moffitt- RI (left)
Chevy Chase
Nationalist Party Whip
Madhavi Duvvuri- MA (right)
Chevy Chase
Hello fellow bloggers!

We are senators Sarah Moffitt (Minority Whip) of Rhode Island and Madhavi Duvvuri of Massachusetts both residing in the community of Chevy Chase. Today has been a fun filled, informative, and inspiring day from start to finish. After deepening our bonds with our fellow roommates, we have managed not only to create long lasting friendships but to stay up all night forging these friendships. Some of us have slept a grand total of three hours preparing for party convention, primary elections, discussing political topics, or deciding which color shirt the boys nation senators would be suited with best. The leading shirt to trade with the senators bears our slogan, "A woman's place is in the house and the senate."

In senate session today, we discussed a bill about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and repealing it, a bill regarding physician-assisted suicide with stipulations and regulations, and a less controversial resolution regarding the awareness of food allergens in restaurants.

All the senators then jumped on our three buses and headed for the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. On the way, senators were able to take pictures of the Jefferson Memorial, Watergate Hotel, The Kennedy Center, The Washington Monument, but only through the bus windows. Senators from Chevy Chase and Foggy Bottom competed in a bus ride cheer-off with everything from "Show me how you get down" to "form the mullet".

Upon entering the Holocaust Museum, senators were given an identification card of a Holocaust victim to follow through during their journey through Nazi Europe. We were greeted by a liberator of the concentration camps. He had forty senators pack into an elevator to simulate the experience of deportation in a crowded box car created for 12 cattle but loaded with 100 victims.

Senators went off to the various floors. The third floor displayed the beginnings of Nazism in Europe, and Adolf Hitler's rise to power. The second floor showed the uprise of antisemitism, discrimination, violence, and ostracism towards "inferior peoples" (according to the Nazis) such as homosexuals, mentally disabled, physically disabled, gypsies, Jews, and those not of the Nordic or Aryan race. The first floor portrayed the plight of victims in the concentration, labor, and death camps as well as ghettos. Senators were able to see the living quarters including sleeping barracks. In these sleeping barracks where normally three people would fit comfortably, ten were forced to sleep. The end of the exhibit consisted of the experience of liberation and freedom of the concentration camps.

An outstanding quote that left a lasting impression was portrayed at the exit of the exhibit. It was said by Pastor Martin Niemoller:
"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then... they came for me... And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

This encouraged and moved many senators. We have pledged in the "From Memory to Action" exhibit to take our part in preventing such horrors such as the genocide in Darfur or hate crimes throughout the world.

Later during the evening, Nesse Godin, a holocaust survivor came to speak to Girls Nation. She was the most inspiring speaker we have seen. She remembered the details of everyday like it was yesterday and not sixty years ago. She was a thirteen year old girl living in Lithuania when the Nazis occupied her town. She was too young to work and was in danger of being sent to a death camp. However, she recounted the story of how a brave Lithuanian secretary saved her life by allowing her to remain with her family and move to a ghetto. She lived in the terrible conditions for two years, while in hiding. In November of 1942, she was separated from her family and was sent to a labor camp. She was lucky enough to avoid death in the gas chambers as she worked digging cone-shaped holes in the ground. She had to continually make herself look taller, stronger, and healthier so the guards would not kill her. She was moved to no less than four labor camps. After having been forced into a death march, she lived in a barn and worked with other women. Daily, she watched many die and she too began to lose hope. However, three women there who had taken care of her for years told her to never give up hope because faith, love, and kindness will always prevail. They made her promise to keep fighting to live and to tell her story around the world so this kind of tragedy will never occur again. To this day, she abides by their words. She believes in the future of Americans, and young women such as the girls nation senators. Every girl was moved by her story, and there were not many dry eyes in the room.

We all thanked her graciously for her time with us, and have promised to uphold her wish for world humanity.

As now we must attend a senate session, it is so moved and seconded to close this blog.

Thank you all and goodnight!

Additional Senate Officers & Keynote Speaker

Nationalist Party(L to R)
Floor Leader: Senator Talley Gale, Alexandria, AR
Party Whip: Senator Emily Meade, Potomac, NH
Keynote Speaker: Senator Eva Outzen, Potomac, VA

Federalist Party (L to R)
Floor Leader: Senator Kate Miller, Potomac, NE
Party Whip: Senator Sarah Moffitt, Chevy Chase, RI
Keynote Speaker: Senator Rebecca Liu, Georgetown, WI

Tuesday, July 21

Lynda Lancaster, WV
Senior Councilor
Another great day in our Nations Capitol. This morning we toured the Holocaust Museum and looking forward to hearing from Nesse Godin, a survivor of this atrocity.
Getting ready to lower the Flag, have dinner and more Senate sessions!

Party Offices for 2009 Senate

Nationalist Party (left to right)
Party Chair: Senator Megan Modic, Foggy Bottom, MA
Party Vice Chair: Senator Addison Keegan-Harris, Bethesda, KS
Party Secretary: Senator Natasha Lejbman, Georgetown, NV

Federalist Party (left to right) Party Chair: Senator Francesca Moree, Alexandria, IL
Party Vice Chair: Senator Anna Zhou, Rockville, IL
Party Secretary: Senator Kathleen Connelly, Potomac, TN

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday, July 20

Lynda Lancaster- WV
Senior Counselor
Potomac Community

Today has been a very active day for our senators. They are starting to debate their legislation!

We had lunch on the bus traveling to the Air Force Memorial as well as the 911 Pentagon Memorial. We were all given a carnation to place on a hero's remembrance bench. We know they ranged in age from 3-71! What a moving experience. We fought the rain drops and had our pictures taken today as staff, senators and communities!

On to more senate sessions.