Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Guest Speakers Inspire Senators with Lessons on Leadership

Today we had two effervescent speakers, Clifton Lewis of U.S. Vets and The American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett. Both emphasized leadership, teamwork, and transformative experiences in life. The combination of these three traits succinctly sums up our collective ALA Girls Nation experience. 

First, leadership. Dale Barnett said, "Your duty is to be leaders." What that means, however, is open to personal interpretation. This week, leadership opportunities range from heading party committees to presiding over ALA Girls Nation Senate to the coveted goals of performing presidential and vice presidential duties. The impact of this experience extends beyond just this week. The essential takeaway is the understanding that when we return to our communities and our schools we are capable of anything and everything. Hopefully, this inspires you to become a leader in your life back home and moving forward. 

Second, team work. Lewis stated, "One person can't change the world...collectively, we can change our community." Despite the seemingly individual aspect of leadership, teamwork is essential to any great leader. Presidents have cabinets. Campaigns have staff. Organizations and companies begin with a team of dedicated and diverse experts. A group of leaders and representatives, in a place like the Senate, can collectively change the community in which it serves. Here, we demonstrate that collective leadership changes lives, both in our model senate sessions and in the personal rapport we develop. As Lewis added, we need to "stay together as a team" because the connections we form this week will last a lifetime and provide opportunities currently unimaginable. 

Third, transformative experiences. To summarize Barnett, don't look for what's fun, look for what's challenging. The endeavors that make you better by the end are more worthy of undertaking. If ALA Girls Nation pushes you, all the better, and if you fear you're alone in this feeling, I can guarantee you are not. This week will test our stamina, courage, and mindfulness, yet we will walk away with greater endurance, bravery, and introspection.  

To attempt a new level of leadership while here will increase our self worth. To work together will create a lasting network. To grow the most from this experience will maximize our future potential. 

Reflecting on these three lessons from our charismatic speakers reminds me just how blessed we all are to be here in D.C. this week. 

Paige Lawrence, Kansas

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