Editor's note: Hannah Daleno, a junior at Harvest Christian Academy, writes about attending the Junior State of America program for high school students at Georgetown University this summer.
Guam high school students who aim to get a shot at a good college, particularly an Ivy League institution, can try various summer programs that offer experiences of college campus life while earning academic credit.
The Junior State of America is one of the largest student-led organizations in the world. Its goal is to educate the youth and prepare the world's next leaders in the fields of politics and community service. It does so under the motto "Be the People."
With several chapters around the country, JSA is one of the most politically active communities among teenagers. It hosts winter conferences and summer sessions at prestigious universities such as Stanford University, Princeton University and Georgetown University.
I was lucky enough to attend this year's summer program at Georgetown in Washington, D.C.
My classmates and I learned and lived in the nation’s capital. For Speaker Days throughout the three-week program, we were able to visit the Russell Senate Office Building, the Senate floor, the Mexican Cultural Institute and the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
A day was set aside at the end of the program to bring the JSA group on a monument tour. Students presented a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and they visited the White House. They also saw the Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. memorials. By the end of the program, we had been all around Capitol Hill.
Our schedule accommodated for lesson time and debate class. Every student has a course that has about three-hour classes — one to two times a day — and a debate class that's also one to two hours long. All of these happened in the span of three weeks, six out of seven days per week.
I took the honors media and politics course in which we studied the connections between media and politics, specifically the 2016 presidential election. Each person in my class was equipped with a textbook and a personal computer that he or she brought. We discussed Donald Trump's tweets, Hillary Clinton's advertisements and the role of the news media in gathering voter information.
In debate class, we were given topics on which we gave main and subsequent speeches. Some were assigned; others were voluntary. We debated serious topics such as immigration and presidential pardon. We also argued on less serious topics, such as the use of phones on school grounds.
Going into the program, I was somewhat nervous. There were concerns of the amount of political knowledge, debate experience and social skills one has compared with people whom they have yet to meet.
When I arrived on campus, I realized all my worries were for naught. It stands to reason that such an extensive organization has new people joining often. At Georgetown University, one will experience alongside peers a variety of students who are experienced and those who started to pursue their interest in politics. There will be old and new members, most of whom are friendly.
I had my roommate, classmates and peers in other classes to befriend. I also had class times and my Sundays off to meet others from diverse backgrounds.
Overall, this experience was a blessing and life-changing. JSA is a terrific program and organization for anyone looking to delve into politics. It not only educates but also provides a chance to meet future leaders. These peers will likely go into office or make changes in other ways.