Andy Wang is a teen from Nequa High School who will be attending the Young Democrats of America’s High School Leadership Academy and was given a scholarship by Project Blue to help defray his expenditures. Here is his BEFORE blog and we will hear from his AFTER the August convention as well.
Civic activism and engagement have always came hand in hand with my personal growth during my high school career. Developing my own opinions, researching factual evidence as support, and then developing a cohesive argument and presentation are the skills that I learned through JSA, an organization aiming to fight political apathy through debate. Only recently have I become confident enough in my ideals and thoughts to even think about making a larger difference in my community through a civic campaign, working on a congressional campaign, and becoming a national officer for a lobbying organization. I am hoping that Young Democrats of America’s High School Leadership Academy can provide me with the tools to become a progressive leader.
On paper, the agenda is jam-packed with trainings and tours, all for the purpose of furthering our progressive effort. From the monuments to the Capitol, social media to women’s rights, the Sierra Club to meetings with top Democratic officials, just about every imaginable topic relating to the Democratic cause is included in the four day conference. I especially look forward to the briefing with Congressional Staffers to explore some of my future career options in the world of politics. Supposedly, there are also scheduled visits and speeches from distinguished Democratic leaders though YDA is keeping them a surprise!
But to describe exactly what I expect to bring away from the convention is a little tougher. I’ve been to many different leadership conferences for various clubs at my school and, while the majority were technical conventions, the most surprising takeaway was never the content, nor the competition, but the people that I met. I cannot wait to meet dozens of young Democrats from across the States who are as civically minded as I am. Together, we can learn the skills necessary to become tomorrow’s leaders.
That being said, I am also very excited about the knowledge I can gain from this convention. Personally, marketing and social media branding are nowhere near the list of my fortes, at least not for conveying our vision of what American needs to be. Learning how bills and laws work is a must-have skill for approaching legislators and lobbying. And most importantly, reaffirming and concretely defining the Democratic goal for America in various policy areas will provide me a strong foundation to develop my own opinions more.
Finally, I can’t wait to have a little (and a lot) of fun in our nation’s capital! DC has been one of my favorite cities since my father first took me when I was 8 and I will definitely be touring as a future Democratic leader this time, not a pedestrian. I am excited to visit and walk in the footsteps of those that came before us but also to meet new friends to pave the future. I absolutely cannot wait for this conference, and I hope to bring all of the skills, knowledge, and fun experiences back to our community here in Illinois!