Monday, August 6, 2018

Stay Chill on Capitol Hill

The day started out humid, sunny, and early. We wished for more rain to come as we made our way to flag raising ceremony. Breakfast was short and sweet, almost as sweet as the maple syrup on our French toast. We loaded into buses on our way to Capitol Hill.

When we unloaded from the bus we saw a flood of red shirts disperse in all directions. In our free time, before and after meeting our U.S. Senators, we were able to explore the wonders of Washington D.C. Many ALA Girls Nation delegates, along with their Legion Boys Nation counterparts, were able to meet with their state Senators and had the opportunity to share their bills with staff. Additionally, we took pictures and spoke about federal and state issues. Aside from our meetings, we were given passes to the House and Senate galleries and also had the ability to explore the history of Capitol Hill. After a full day of sightseeing, ALA Girls Nation hosted an Inauguration for our Supreme Court justices, vice president, and president. This event allowed us to see how presidents are sworn in during their Inauguration. Following the commencement of our ceremony we went resumed Senate session to reviews bills and pass legislation.

After passing two bills we began our talent show – many talented young girls performed for all the ALA Girls Nation attendees. There was singing, dancing, piano, poetry, stand-up comedy, and “Vine Breaks.” From the amazing talent show we went to our dormitory hall to do a nightly reflection about our day on Capitol Hill. 

We hope everyone had a great day in the capital of our nation and learned a lot about federal government. 

– Aryann Farano, NM and Olga Diupina, WA

Friday, July 27, 2018

Women’s Empowerment and Choosing to Share My Light

These past few days, the Potomac community has become exactly that – a community. I have never in my life felt so connected to a group of people so quickly, nor have I ever been able to live so enveloped in intelligent passion. 

Empowerment, during my journey, has been ignited by my mother’s example and held close – an ember that brought me all the way to D.C. 

Empowerment, here at ALA Girls Nation, has been much more than a singular ember; it has burned bright, and has been a bonfire of energy that sets each senator alight. 

These women have taught me that empowerment should never be kept to one’s self. It is a light that goes dark only when we do not fan each other’s flames, but it becomes a force once we allow our “bonfires” to combine.

The Potomac community, my wonderful roommates, and the girls of ALA Girls Nation have re-oriented my world-view. My fellow “Potomian,” Anna, said it best – “choose to share your light.” Where and when is up to you, but remember that you give nothing away when you add your fire to an ember because, if your fire ever needs restarting, there will be plenty of strong, confident, and inspiring women to do so. 

Thank you, ALA Girls Nation, for showing me what it is to be unapologetically supported. I promise to fan flames well after I leave by becoming just as unapologetically supportive.

Lighting the Flame,

Emma Hargreaves, ME

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Washington, D.C. Excursions Bring Growth and Fun

The day began with an attempt at raising the flag, however the weather unfortunately did not permit the performing of the flag-raising ceremony. Nevertheless, ALA Girls Nation had a fantastic and enlightening day selecting the presidential and vice presidential candidates, an individual for each position (president and vice president) from both the Nationalist and Federalist parties. Hailing from the Nationalist party, presidential candidate Amal Ali from Texas and vice presidential candidate Tytiana Curtain from Wisconsin. As for the Federalist party, Hoda Abdalla, from South Carolina, was selected to be the party’s presidential candidate, and Finnley Senese, from Florida, was selected to be the party’s vice presidential candidate.

On a note of exploration and enlightenment, ALA Girls Nation senators set out to learn from, appreciate, and respect the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The stunning exhibits portrayed the cruel reality of the Holocaust and conveyed the importance of preventing such an atrocity from occurring once more. The museum shared the stories of those murdered and those that survived the Holocaust in an extremely impactful and respectful manner, giving ALA Girls Nation senators an opportunity to appreciate the justice inherent to our great nation and the importance of being aware of the modern world and its history to prevent future tragedies. It was a somber moment, however also an urgent reminder of the necessity of paying careful consideration to world affairs, such as the humanitarian crises in Syria, Myanmar, and other nations experiencing turmoil.

The group then headed to the American History Museum for a delightful dinner and then was promptly on its way to visit the national World War II Memorial, at which they had the joy of singing patriotic songs to the enjoyment of fellow tourists. The Lincoln Memorial was quite a highlight of the day as the enormous, towering statue of former President Abraham Lincoln gave ALA Girls Nation senators quite a lot to think about in regards to the founding principles of the nation that has lead to its uniqueness and success.

In terms of fun and friendly competition, the day was not lacking as it ended with the energetic decoration of the room in which tomorrow's political rally will occur. Although in the end the room did look amazing, decked out in both the Nationalist and Federalist party colors, there might have been a little more dancing than decorating – completing another successful day of ALA Girls Nation filled with achievement, growth, and fun.

Mariam Kish, CT 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Don't Rain on Our Party

Our second day at the 72nd ALA Girls Nation was spent accommodating the weather while keeping our spirits high. Speaking of spirit, we separated into our parties and focused on developing our platforms for the upcoming convention. We had the privilege to hear the words of two amazing women who helped change our nation and the lives of the people who serve it. First we heard from Karen Grimord, the founder and president of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. As she told her heart-wrenching story of her service to the wounded members of our military, her dedication and devotion to the betterment of our soldier’s recovery moved us to tears and deepened our gratitude towards civilian support of military service. Following Grimord’s emotional speech, Denise Rohan, the illustrious first female national commander of The American Legion, addressed our Senate. She graced our delegates with empowering words to encourage civic engagement and profound patriotism. 

After we heard from the speakers, we sharpened our parliamentary procedure skills while developing a diligent ear for listening to our fellow senators during our first official senate session. In a matter of three hours, 100 young women – representing all 50 states – tackled one resolution and four Senate bills on current topics.

Reflecting on our third day, we could not ask for a brighter or more competent group of young women to spend the remainder of this week with and make everlasting memories.


Madi Rice, DE

Imani Smith, KY

Monday, July 23, 2018

ALA Girls Nation Senators Bond Immediately Upon Arrival

Yesterday was the first day of a week at ALA Girls Nation. After being picked up at the airport and getting bussed to campus, we finally got to meet the super sweet senators from the other states. No introduction was needed – the girls all got together and shared many stories from their ALA Girls State experiences and, of course, exchanged pins.

Each girl I met was different and quirky in her own special way that it wasn’t hard to see why each us were chosen – my roommates being no exception. The girls I will share my room with for the following week are very accepting and giving. We bonded over our experiences and differences and compared our competition from our week at ALA Girls State. Above all other similarities, we all shared a certain excitement in our eyes matched with smiles on our faces that expressed how thankful and fortunate we are to have the opportunity.

Looking forward to a great week!
Nicole Bobovich, PA

Two Senators Reflect on the Arlington National Cemetery Experience

Between the honorable trip to Arlington National Cemetery and our first Senate session of the 72nd ALA Girls Nation, day one was tightly packed and eventful. On our trip to Arlington National Cemetery, the sun briefly greeted us as we watched the changing of the guard. Furthermore, four senators were given the opportunity to partake in a wreath laying ceremony, including one of our own from the Foggy Bottom community! Following the wreath laying ceremony, the choir performed patriotic songs and several senators recited poems to honor the brave men and women of our country. As the rain moved in, we traveled to the final resting place of former President John F. Kennedy and toured the grounds via tram. Arlington National Cemetery demands a respect that ALA Girls Nation was proud to give. We can guarantee that on our way back to campus, everyone slept on the bus!

Our first Senate session was initiated by speaker Ms. Mary “Dubbie” Buckler from American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters. As a former ALA Girls State participant, Dubbie provided thoughtful insight and wise words concerning our presence here at ALA Girls Nation. An inspirational woman, all ALA Girls Nation senators agreed that we were lucky and grateful to have such a powerful speaker. Later in the night, we elected Senate positions and started the initial review process of the proposed legislation by each state through committees. By the end of the night, our brains were fried, hearts aflutter, and stomachs full.

In retrospect, day one, of what is to be a long and fruitful week, tested our endurance and motivated us to represent our states with pride. The Foggy Bottom community is looking forward to five more days of fun!

Roula Hammer, MD

Ella Doyle, MN

Friday, July 20, 2018

Getting to Know the ALA Girls Nation Public Relations Team

This week, the ALA Girls Nation senators will see a lot of the Public Relations team (PR for short), primarily behind the camera! Our team is responsible for the ALA Girls Nation Times, which is a recap of our daily activities; ALA Girls Nation blog; photography throughout the week, and all social media.

So, who is the PR team?

Kristen Baker-Geczy is creative communications specialist at ALA National Headquarters and manages the PR team. Kristen is a Navy spouse and has been deployed to the Middle East as an Air Force contractor.

Kendall Madsen from the ALA Department of California is the photography guru. Kendall is a member of Newport Harbor #291 in California and gets her eligibility from her father, who served in World War II and in Korea, and her brother who is a Vietnam veteran.

Dana Thoreson is an ALA member through her father, a Vietnam veteran. She has been a member her entire life and is proud to belong to Unit 39 in Velva, North Dakota. Dana is also the director of ALA North Dakota Girls State. Dana enjoys her role at ALA Girls Nation and likes observing the girls as they experience the week.

Outside of ALA Girls Nation, I serve as director of ALA Kansas Girls State. I am a proud member of Unit 14 in Lawrence, Kansas. I joined the Auxiliary after attending ALA Sunflower Girls State and like that I can give back to the organization through the ALA Girls State program. I am a member through both of my grandfathers, World War II and Korea veterans. This is my first year on staff and I look forward to observing the ALA Girls Nation senators learn more about the political process.

You can follow along all week on Facebook (@ALAGirlsNation), Instagram (@ALAforVeterans), and Twitter (@ALAforVeterans). Or search our hashtag: #ALAGirlsNation18!

We are…PR!
Rachel BarnesKansas