Sometimes we have to let go of the things we love most so that we still have fond memories when we leave them. I did speech throughout high school and it was my life. Graduating was the best and worst feeling because that meant no more late nights invested in writing a competitive speech. But, when I return to coach and judge for my high school, I realize that it was time for me to be on the other side of it. It was time for me to give back to an organization and team that set the stage for my career in public service. Now, as I humbly lead at ALA Girls Nation as dean of junior counselors, that time to say goodbye will come again at the end of the week.
Let’s just say Shakespeare could have written a tragedy about my initial attempt to run for positions at ALA Girls Nation. The first couple of days I felt as if I had failed ALA Cornhusker Girls State because I still had not held a position or stood out to my peers. The process was frustrating. Then, in the middle of a party caucus I lead a cheer, and I began to ask questions – a lot of questions. I sat by anyone on the bus and asked them about their states and their favorite part about the week. I grew. I subconsciously was evolving into the person I wanted to be and by Saturday, when it was time to return to “the good life,” I knew I had made my state proud because I thoroughly enjoyed my week full of caucuses, conventions, activities, and tater tots.
Returning last year as a junior counselor reminded me of that experience as I witnessed it on the faces of my Alexandria babies and it only fostered my love more for the ALA Girls Nation program and the American Legion Auxiliary. And now, as I enter the final stretch of the week as dean of junior counselors with my Spring Valley girls, I am reminded of the same emotions I felt as I graduated from high school, when I said goodbye to speech competition and hello to coaching. This Saturday, at American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation I must do the same thing, but this time, join the American Legion Auxiliary in attempt to thank the women who empowered me.
Carlin Daharsh, Nebraska
Dean of Junior Counselors, Spring Valley