Girls State and the Political Amusement Park

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

My bags were overstuffed with clothes and campaign materials for the week, and while I had been overwhelmed by the lengthy list of elected positions mentioned at orientation, I was prepared to run for all of them. I was bouncing in the passenger seat of my mom’s SUV, scrutinizing the GPS’s agonizingly steady mile countdown and acting like a skittish little girl on her way to an amusement park. To most, however, this was the complete opposite of a carefree day of sunshine, rollercoasters, and fried food. This sweltering summer day was the first in a week that was sure to be filled with stressful, yet exciting, new experiences; this was the first day of Maryland Girls State.

Once we rolled up to the Salisbury University parking lot, I jumped out of the car and, after a speedy check-in, beelined to my dorm room and flipped through the program booklet to plan out my week. From a legislative session and mock trial to elections for County Council and Senator, the week ahead looked exhilarating. When initially sponsored by my local American Legion post, I had envisioned Girls State as something that would only serve as a government-focused, but otherwise typical, week of school. The mandatory orientation held a few months prior to the...

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