Friday, July 23, 2010

Meeting Obama

When my grandfather was in school there was an essay contest to meet the president. The entire school participated. When the contest was over he found out that he had won. Sadly, he was not able to meet the president. A Caucasian child was chosen although their essay was not the best, but because in that day, it was unimaginable to see a young black boy meet such a prestigious person like the president for something positive like an essay contest. Years later my grandfather told his story and someone listened. He was interviewed and it was written in the paper. Days later, my grandfather received a call from the white house. The current president at the time, Bill Clinton, wanted to meet my grandfather to get a picture with him. He was ecstatic. He, along with his wife and my father, got to go to the white house and meet the president. My mother also got a picture with the president for being “in the right place at the right time” and stumbling across the opportunity. The thought of me, Rose Chantal Porter, Wilmington Delaware resident, African American girl, nothing special to anybody but another number on a national level, was blessed by the American Auxiliary to be chosen to go to Girls Nation 2010, and have the immense privilege to meet the president of the United States of America today.

If someone had told me that this summer I was going to meet the president, make over 100 new best friends that I truly love, learn new ideas and values that some of these girls hold so dear to them, and have doors of opportunity open up as wide as they did this past week, I would not believe a word. The girls here chosen for Girls Nation are all so bright, intelligent and privileged. I am just a small city girl, with the support and motivation from my 11th grade English teacher, Lisa Coburn, that was able to stumble across this opportunity.

I am not my schools valedictorian. I am not a straight A+ student. I am not in every club in my school and I am not the captain of a sports team. I don’t know everything there is to know about parliamentary procedure and never in my wildest dreams did I think I could ever become the next United States president. I am not the best writer, singer, poet or person. However, throughout my experience here at Girls Nation, I have learned something so life changing to me and hopefully to others. I learned that if you surround yourself by greatness, it will rub off onto you and you will grow into a greater person. I learned that an African American girl all the way from Delaware could become best friends with a southern blonde from Florida in a matter of days. I learned how to truly respect the soldiers working hard each day to protect my nation. I learned about how many people work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide citizens like myself the little things. I learned to never be so intimidated by others to the point that my voice isn’t heard. Everyone’s’ voice is equal. Everyone has an equal chance to be great. We are all just people and all the people like me want is to be good but the good people envy those better. The better people fear failing and the ones that failed only tried to be great. But the greats fear nothing.

To me, Obama fears nothing. If not he as a person, but as a symbol, Obama, my president, will never fear anything. He is the symbol of those who for years could not fathom an African American president. He is the symbol for the slave that cried screams of oppression and pain. He is the symbol for the nation that change can happen and that through any bad situation, there is light. He symbolizes strength, determination, and hopefully one day, Obama can symbolize me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would take a picture with the president. It means so much to me I know there is not one word that can truly describe the amount of excitement that came over me when he entered the room. Sadly, I did not get my hug or chance to have a picture just me and him together, but today has put me in the right direction. Years ago when my grandfather wrote that winning essay has put me in the right direction. Someday I hope I get to have my picture with the president, but as for today, I am proud and honored to have been able to take one with my other Girls Nation attendants, the amazing staff, the phenomenal national president of the American Legion Auxiliary Rita Navarreté, who for 64 years, has watched Girls Nation grow and turn girls into young ladies.

–Rose C. Porter Girls State Senator representing Delaware.

Georgetown Blog

Blog #1
Today we went to the National Mall. It was incredible to see the symbols of America in person. My patriotism flared with pride when I saw the physical monuments that represent so much beyond their marble walls. It was clear to me today that each stone laid was done with so much fervor that still today, this burning patriotism inspired even my own.

Carly Stine, VT Georgetown

Blog #2
This day was phenomenal! Experiencing the heart of America for the very first time was life altering. I have more pride than ever before in our great nation. I am so happy to have spent my time with the leaders of tomorrow.

Lynnette Andersen, FL Georgetown

Blog #3
We are all truly blessed to be here representing our states. Tomorrow I am meeting with Dinei Titus, John Ensign and Harry Reid. To say I am excited would be an understatement. Thank you American Legion Auxiliary and thank you Nevada Girls State.

Sarah Teferi, NV Georgetown

Blog #4
Wednesday, July 21st 2010 was such a full, exhilarating day here at Girls Nation. We pumped party spirit up at rallies; I have never witnessed such phenomenal party unity and dedication. Personally, I felt the rush of speaking to all Girls Nation and faced the fear of whistle stops. I then had the honor of knowing my representation of the Nationalist Party had been enough to give us the election. Nationalist Carrie Bilenker was elected President, and I, Kelsey Keny, assumed the role of Vice President. The day continued to soar with breathtaking visits to memorials and monuments. Though I am now tired and somewhat exhausted, as I reflect on the day full of events, these reflections with certainly last a lifetime.

Kelsey Keny, TN Georgetown

Blog #5
Everyday I spend in this wonderful program, I am reminded more and more of how blessed I am. I am extremely blessed to be in Girls Nation. Today, I have gotten the opportunity to see firsthand the monuments I have previously only seen within history books. From the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, I know that I walked the steps of history. I am sure that under Girls Nation tutelage, I am walking forward to a magnificent future.

Safiatou Soumana NC Georgetown

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Yesterday was an educational roller coaster from start to finish. Earlier, the senators visited the Holocaust museum in D.C. It was a very solemn and disturbing, yet an educational exploration. A boxed lunch later, they were back at the National 4-H getting ready for the “BIG” event, Election of Party Nominees. The excitement is mounting and the energy in the rooms was great enough to light Washington, D. C. It was great to watch the different techniques in campaigning and public speaking. Now, the question is: who will be the new President and Vice President of Girls Nation?

Nesse Godin, a Holocaust survivor, addressed the senate which was very interesting. The questions that were asked of her were very enlightening. What an awesome and gracious lady! She is truly an inspirational and a great role model. Stay tune for election results later today!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Girls Nation Day #3

Monday: July 19, 2010

Staying on campus for the day at first seemed like it was going to be the longest and, frankly, least exciting day. Well, I was wrong. I really got to meet and ended up remembering a lot of the girls’ names, built relationships and had tons of fun. We come from all different states, various regions and separate walks of life. But, we all have surprisingly similar life goals and beliefs.

Sarah Teferi

Monday Night

We all knew that is was such a great honor to be selected to become a senator from our state to come to Girls Nation in Washington D.C., but I don’t think that we completely realized how close we would become to the girls we would meet and how sleep deprived we would become. Despite the fact that we have only been here a few short days, the girls and myself all feel that we’ve been here longer. It’s quite common to hear in the lunch or dinner line, ‘Is this dinner?’ or ‘Have we eaten lunch yet?’ Our days are long and our nights of rest are short, but we are all enjoying our time here and stepping out of our comfort zones and trying new things. This is, after all, a once in a lifetime experience, so we are making the most of our stay here in D.C. and our time with all of the wonderful girls, government staff, junior counselors and senior counselors. The day before we had the chance to go to Arlington Cemetery and we all enjoyed our trip. I don’t think that any of us knew how hot is really would get here until we were standing in the sun watching the guard changing ceremony and the wreath laying ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This was a very new sight for many of us and we all enjoyed it as well as we learned that we all need to DRINK LOTS OF WATER! Today, we spent a lot of time in the Senate and our Parties. From a Nationalist’s perspective, getting ready for the rally on Wednesday has been very enjoyable. From making posters to skits, everyone has pitched in and worked diligently to finish the task set before us. Also, today we were able to participate in the Operation Military Kids (OMK) service project. In the early afternoon we were honored to have a guest speaker come and talk to us about what exactly OMK is and what they do. During the speaker’s presentation, he had a demonstration planned and the Chevy Chase community was fortunate enough to be able to be a part of it. We were all given a piece of paper that told us what our civilian and military roles were. Then, we were told to hold a tarp, which was the community, up in the air that had balloons in it and bounce them around which represented the kids and their active lives. In the beginning everyone held onto the tarp on the sides, but slowly the speaker instructed us one by one to leave because we were being deployed. As more and more of the military service men and women left the community, the balloons fell off of the tarp and onto the ground. In the end, it was impossible for the entire community to keep all of the children safe and well without the military service men and women because they also had civilian roles as well as having to fulfill their duty to their country. The demonstration represented how the kids in military families were left to fall out of the community and not be supported. We were all moved to help in any way that we could after the speaker finished with his presentation and were all very excited to pack our OMK Hero book bags. The girls here at Girls Nation were all very generous enough to bring things to put in these backpacks such as notebooks, cameras, pens, markers, stationary, etc., so we were each allowed to pack a book bag with various items and also were able to write them a handwritten letter that had an encouraging and uplifting tone. The girls here in the community of Chevy Chase are looking forward to a very busy, emotional and solemn upcoming day as we will make our way to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. We are all very excited about our other future trips as well and cannot wait until the ‘mystical White House Day’ that is coming up toward the end of the week. Hopefully, none of us will get sick and President Obama will be available for us to meet! We’re keeping our fingers crossed!

Samantha Paschal Chevy Chase Indiana

Monday, July 19, 2010

I spent the evening listening to debates by Girls Nation Senators. There’s only one word to describe these exceptional young women: Awesome! They come to Girls Nation with prewritten bills or resolutions that they passionately believe in. Then, they learn to develop, clarify and amend to make it better. It is truly inspirational to see and hear the future of American women from throughout the United States debate issues both in the negative and affirmative until a majority reaches a decision to bring it to a final conclusion of passing or failing. This is democracy in action at its best!

Maggie Watts

Go Indiana

I feel so privileged having the opportunity to be on the Girls Nation Staff for 2010.

I’m also proud to be with so many fellow Hoosiers, Ilene Bailey and Jane Thurston (Government Staff); Nancy Leighty (Chevy Chase Senior Counselor); Tabitha Rhoda (PR Dept.); Mary Beth Richardson and Stephanie Abisi (Office Staff).

Our Hoosier Girls State Senators: Samantha Paschal and Chelsea Bousum.

We even got to talk with Mary Yonkman, a 2001 Girls Nation almuni!

~Vickie Koutz

We’re getting the parties ready for the big RALLY tomorrow. What a blast as we watch all these Senators prepare for elections and the dream of becoming Girls Nation President 2010 will soon be a reality for one of the 98 girls that are here this week in Washington, DC at Girls Nation.

Toni Gimpel, Senior Counselor Bethesda—Idaho Falls, Idaho

Hey, I’m here at Girls Nation and every year you think that it can’t get any better –however it really does. The Girls are phenomenal – my City “Foggy Bottom” is above and beyond. We cherish our community meetings every night. We are just into Senate sessions and they are always exciting.

Mary Williams

From Sunday Night

So far…wow! My community of Spring Valley is amazing and uplifting. All the girls here are listeners and talkers. I’m beginning to break out of my shell and get to know all the unfamiliar girls…and I suppose that must be the hardest part. Before I got here, I was absolutely convinced everyone was mean and I’m happily proving myself wrong. And thus, I find myself at Sunday! It was far too hot at Arlington Ceremony (let’s not talk about the sweat dripping down everyone’s legs). Today we had tons of elections, speeches, and meetings and then all of it all over again. It seems to me that just about anybody has the ability to be whatever she wants to be. I myself am planning the Nationalist Convention.

This day and a half of being in this foreign place has convinced me that everyone has the potential to move far beyond what they thought themselves to be…even if she wasn’t elected as Chairwoman of such-and-such. This in itself is an awesome thing! I feel privileged and at the same time humbled. But the cool thing? I’m not the only one! Every girl here is going to leave a very special woman. We all know it and we all embrace every moment of it. At this moment we’re sitting here in our community meeting listening to each other. And though each girl is from a different state completely, we all sound like the same girl: hardship met by beautiful fortune. To anyone reading this, please know and understand that there is nothing in the world that could’ve prepared me for this amazing experience; therefore, there is nothing in the world quite like this week.

Dean of JCs

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This morning’s Ecumenical Service at Arlington Cemetery Amphitheater brought many to listen when Girls Nation’s Senators joined together in song. The rendition of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” was clear and strong in the early morning serenity of the sacred grounds of our Nation’s fallen heroes. Without music and in perfect pitch, one would think that this group of young women had known each other more than 24 hours. This set the tone for the rest of the service, one that was worthy of the early hour departure and bus breakfast to open Arlington. Girl Nation Senators laid a beautiful wreath of veteran made poppys at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the changing of the guard. These young women were sworn in as Girls Nation Senators late yesterday evening, yet were up for the raising of our Nation’s flag at 6:45 this morning. Such is the caliber of the young women that are selected each year at their state Girls State program.


Good Afternoon from Day 2 at Girls Nation

Our trip to Arlington was amazing and moving. Last night, during the opening, the girls inserted poppies into a beautiful wreath brought by Marie Geode from Minnesota. If you’ve seen the pictures you know what I mean. Four Senators were chosen to be in the honor guard to lay the wreath. What an honor!! It was sunny and hot but the girls didn’t seem to mind.

The Ecumenical Ceremony, put together by Suzanne Knapp from Michigan, was beautiful. Nine Senators shared their religious beliefs. We all sang Let there be Peace on Earth and This Land is Your Land. The choir sang Some Gave All, a special request by me. They did such a beautiful job, I again found myself crying. I’ve done that a few times already and it’s only Sunday.

When we got back to the 4H Center we had a presentation called “You Be the Judge” given by Judge Pierron from the Kansas Court of Appeals. He was engaging and incorporated a lot of participation by the Senators. The girls seemed to really like it.

After lunch the Senators learned about how senate sessions are conducted at Girls Nation and then split into their parties to elect their party leadership. Flag lowering is in 15 minutes, then dinner and senate continues this evening.
These are an amazing group of talented and enthused young women. I thank the Girls State programs for sending us such wonderful Senators. I wish you can all see them in action – but the next best thing is to follow us and view our pictures on Facebook.

Photos should also be available on the Auxiliary website tomorrow.

Pray with us for a safe Girls Nation.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Good Evening from Girls Nation!!

Well, we just finished our opening convocation. You will never guess who our guest was – the author of the words and music to the Girls State song. Back in 1947, a contest was held to find a theme song for Girls State. Haroldene Heeren ( now Schreck) was a delegate at Nebraska Girls State.She wrote the song, submitted it to National and the rest is history. Haroldene told the girls that over the years she forgot about it until recently when she was cleaning out old papers and found the original manuscript. This prompted her to write to National. The heading on her letter was “I bet who can’t believe I’m still alive.” Well, I knew I wanted her at Girls Nation. The girls loved her! Over the years, Haroldeen became a professional musician, playing piano, mostly jazz. She played the Girls State song like I never heard it!! We all sang and it was wonderful. She autographed about a hundred copies of the Girls State song and will come to Arlington with us tomorrow.

Our keynote speaker was Mary McNaught Yonkman, a Girls Nation alumnus from 2001. Mary talked to the girls about how her experience at Girls Nation helped to shape her life these last nine years. Mary is an incredible young woman who currently works in DC for a non-profit. She is passionate about how returning service men and women need to be appreciated by their communities. After the opening, Mary and the girls gathered for an informal Q & A. Much of the talk centered around college, jobs and service. This fall, Mary starts a new job for a non-profit called The Mission Continues. This organization provides fellowships to returning wounded veterans to find career and education opportunities. What’s cool is that this organization was founded by a Boys Nation alumnus.

The PR staff is kicking me out. They need their sleep. More tomorrow...


Good Afternoon from Girls Nation!

Well, it’s Saturday and we are all ready for the Senators to arrive. The first bus got to the 4H center around 12:30. It is hot and muggy in DC but I’m sure the girls won’t mind. The Public Relations staff has been working hard to assure that pictures and postings are available on the ALA website, Facebook, and blogspot. So, please, check us out all week.

We just unpacked a box of over 110 poppy corsages from the Awareness Assembly. They are so lovely, we decided to give each Senator a poppy corsage at Registration and have them wear the corsages this evening during the opening convocation. We’ll take lots of pictures and post them on all the social networking sites. Thank you to all the units and departments for these beautiful corsages.

Our government staff has been very busy. All the bills have been reviewed and numbered and everything is in place for tomorrows Senate Committee meetings.

They’re predicting sunshine for tomorrow for the wreath-laying and Ecumenical Service at Arlington Cemetery. This is such a beautiful and moving ceremony and one that is always a highlight of the week. Again, pictures should be available on the website and Facebook by Monday.

That’s it for now. More coming tonight.