Governor Speaks at Weekend Conference

Mallory La Piana and Fiona Deane-Grundman, Staff Writers

The Diablo Valley delegation of Youth and Government traveled to Sacramento for their final conference from February 10-15.

According to sophomore Rachel Jackson, the event was a fun bonding experience within the delegation and a good way to meet other students with similar interests from around the state. “The final conference  was really emotional because we had a lot of people graduating and stuff but it was also really really fun because since it was the final thing,” she said.

“There was a lot of excitement behind the all the different processes that occurred, and it was just a really fun experience because that was the final way you got to know everybody and really just have that final experience,” Jackson added.

“It’s not exactly a tournament. It’s more of just every single person who does Youth and Government is going to be at every conference, basically. You don’t really have to compete for anything but there’s definitely people that compete for different positions in the government, and you [the candidates] have to compete there obviously, but there’s no competition delegation wide. Y & G’s pretty big. There’s about 3,000 students who did it this year throughout California. Each delegation is a different size because each YMCA has its own delegation. Ours has around less than 50 people this year, but there are some that have hundreds of students,” Jackson said.

According to freshman Tanya Zhong, the delegation traveled by bus and stayed at a Sheraton hotel. “It was really nice,” she said.

Freshman Leah Bahramipour said, “It [the club] is actually funded through the YMCA.”

Freshman Elena Koshkin shared the sentiment that it was an exciting experience. “It was actually like a whole new experience and it’s something I’ve never tried before,” she explained.

Bahramipour explained the dynamics of the convention. “It was basically like a big convention where people from a bunch of different delegations came together and basically we discussed politics and reenacted government.”

According to Zhong, ”Sacramento is basically delegates from all over California and you have to wear fancy clothes. Everything you’ve prepared for the past couple of months you sort of do. Our delegation for Campo is called Diablo Valley, all the freshmen in Y & G are in something called forum so it’s sort of separated. You’re not up up in senate debating against seniors, that kind of thing. Forum was basically we all go into committees and write a bill so I was in the law-enforcement committee, so we wrote a bill about law enforcement. The last two days of Sacramento we debate the bills and mine passed.”

Senior Emma Archangel said, “We had to write bills. Then the bills had to go through a freshmen assembly estate. And basically once we wrote the bill, then we had to get it to pass the senate assembly and our bill passed both assemblies. ”

Zhong’s bill was an example of the mission of the trip, which was to allow the students to experience government procedures in a learning environment.

“My bill was in event of police misconduct the case instead of going to the DA’s office it would go to a division of the attorney general which makes no sense but what happens is the DA works with the police on a day to day basis and they might be biased so it’s to eliminate bias,” Zhong said. Her bill addresses police misconduct.

Koshkin added, “Yes, mine did pass, by default, but it still passed but that’s not what I focused on because my role in my committee group was actually to be part of the core work program in forum so I had this separate case that I had to argue for forum court and that was a whole separate organization which was super fun.”

As a sophomore, Jackson was able to participate in a Y & G program called Political Parties, exemplifying the range of activities members experience as they advance through the club. “Well, everybody has a separate program area and mine was political parties. So what we do is we basically form our own parties with their own platforms, and we kind of team up with one of the candidates for youth governor and campaign for them. So for the majority of the weekend, I was just walking around trying to recruit people and it was really cool,” she explained.

Other members agreed that one of the main merits of the club is the socialization.

“I made so many new friends,” said Bahramipour.

Zhong added, “I think you can meet a lot of people and you get really close with the people in our delegation so Campo and Acalanes kids who do Y & G and you can also meet kids from around the state. I met a couple Berkeley kids and that sort of thing and also it’s, I don’t know, you learn a lot.”

Koshkin explained, “I was actually the only one in my committee out of our delegation because all of my friends ditched me at that point but I met so many new people. A lot of people were actually from the Bay Area so I ended up meeting this one kid from San Ramon Valley High School and I was like, whoa. I like the bonding. Everyones like really close knit and we all know each other.”

There were “four thousand [students], I’m going to say. It was a lot there were a lot of people, especially in our hotel you just meet so many different delegations. We had this whole night where we shared our experiences and stuff so we all know each other from the delegation and we’re really close,” she added.

Koshkin added that the club is an opportunity to gain confidence. “I like how it empowers people because after this conference. I’m just walking around school and I feel so much more confident than I ever was,” she said.

Jackson explained her work in political parties as a campaign manager of sorts. “Well, everybody has a separate program area and mine was political parties so what we do is we basically form our own parties with their own platforms and we kind of team up with one of the candidates for youth governor. [We] campaign for them so for the majority of the weekend I was just walking around trying to recruit people and it was really cool. It was a really cool way to get to know the candidates and not a lot of people get to do that so I really got to know the candidates on a personal level,” she said.

A sense of camaraderie is present in the delegation, according to Jackson. “Definitely how close you get to the people. Being a teenage girl I love getting to talk to people, but it’s a really cool way to get to know people that you never would have met otherwise. The bonds you form with people are closer than you’d ever really think and it’s really cool to get to know everyone else,” she explained.

California Governor Jerry Brown spoke at the event. “He talked about climate change and it was really inspiring, I wasn’t sure what that had to do with youth and government but it was still, the whole concept that he was talking to us was so cool,” said Koshkin. “The youth governor met him for like 15 minutes so that was like a huge honor.”

“It was a really cool experience to get to see him actually in person talking,” said Jackson about the governor.

Members praise the club for the valuable skills, opportunities, and lasting friendships it affords.

“I would recommend it because it teaches you a lot of things about society and how to have social skills and it gives you a lot more confidence. I think you get to meet a lot new people which is always good,” explained Koshkin.

“I think that anyone who thinks about Youth and Government, they think of it as something that’s very boring or nerdy. And it’s true, we’re all total nerds, but every single person can have fun time as long as they really put their effort into whatever they are, I think that everyone should try to give it a shot before judging it,” added Jackson.