This past March, the Dallas City Youth Commission took a trip to our nation’s capital in order to attend an NLC, the National League of Cities, conference. Surrounding our time at the conference, we did a multitude of things in and around D.C.
Our first day in the city, we embarked from our hotel to the White House. We took a grand tour of the place learning all about its history and our great leaders who lived there. Shortly after, we arrived at our first Smithsonian of the trip, the American Indian Museum. Here we took a look into historic Indian culture and how they were so wrongfully treated by our nation’s ancestors. The museum featured many videos and auditory messages that even helped us learn a couple Native American Languages ourselves! Following that, we visited the Air and Space Museum and all of its many interesting exhibits. From old war planes to magnetic experiments, we saw it all and were fascinated by each and every thing! To wrap up a great, fun-filled first day, we tested our problem-solving skills in an escape room and had a great time beating the clock and breaking out.
The second day, following breakfast, we hopped on the metro and visited a past youth commissioner, Lizzy Hampton, as she gave us a tour of the college she is currently attending, George Washington University. Lizzy gave us a very in-depth and informational tour of the whole campus and shared her experience with the school from a student’s perspective. After that, we traversed back into the city to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Science and Natural history. There we got a deeper look into our primitive ancestors and all of the natural life that was in their world. We looked through the various exhibits and even got to turn ourselves into a Neanderthal of our choosing. Shortly after, we drove back to the hotel and attended our first session of the conference. There we met with youth commissioners and junior city council members from across the nation. We shared our experiences in city government and all became close friends with one another. Following that, we attended a meeting with other Dallas city government workers in which they were preparing to propose a bill to Congress. The whole meeting really showed me the inner workings of government and how I should prepare if I am ever in the same situation. After dinner that evening, we went to the NCL talent show and saw many people from all around share a variety of interesting talents.
Our third day began with us visiting the African American Smithsonian Museum. In the newly built museum, we were given an exclusive tour bottom to top and got to see a lot of our nation’s history concerning the African American community. From slavery to civil rights to present-day, we learned about all of the events and historical figures that helped African Americans rightfully gain the freedoms they have today. Following this tour, we headed back to the hotel to attend NLC’s second session of the trip. Here we listened to a few speakers talk about civic engagement and the power of the youth’s voice in the U.S. Later, we spoke to the speakers and they gave us information on how to join various organizations that would help us promote these things across the country and across the world.
Our fourth and final day started us in one of the hotel conference rooms listening to many local, democratic leaders from across the nation. We even were able to meet Cory Brooker, a presidential candidate for the upcoming 2020 election. Later in the day we met with various elected officials to tell them about the Youth Commission and ask questions about how to improve our city. We met with Representative Colin Allred, Senators Cruz and Cornyn and Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson. Visiting these government officials gave us valuable experience talking with important politicians and formulating ideas with them.
In all our trip to Washington D.C. was one filled with growth, experience and knowledge that I know the other youth commissioners and I hold very near and dear to our hearts. We hope that the next NLC conference is just as informative and mind-blowing as this one!