2015-06-24 / Living & Style

Georgia EMC’s pave the way to Washington

by Lily Houston

Lily Houston at Lincoln’s Monument Lily Houston at Lincoln’s Monument On February 5, 2015, my school counselor and I departed on the way to Camilla where I had an interview. This interview was at the electric co-op in Camilla, Mitchell EMC.

Eight surrounding schools chose one student whom they would send to the interview in Camilla in hopes that their student would be one of the few chosen to go on the all expense paid Washington Youth Leadership Tour that is sponsored by Georgia Electric Co-op's.

As seven other students and I sat nervously anticipating our turn, the girls who were chosen to go on the trip last year told us how amazing the trip really was.

Finally, my name was called last. I went through the interview process, and my counselor and I headed back to Southwest Georgia Academy. When the bell rang for school to end, I received a phone call. On the other end, several voices yelled, "You're going to Washington!" At that moment, even though I was filled with excitement, I could not imagine how I would be feeling four and a half months later.

Well, the time came for 111 of Georgia's brightest students to meet in Atlanta and get to know each other. When I first walked into the Atlanta Marriot, my first thought was, "I think I'm in the wrong place," but I was soon proved very wrong. We and our parents attended a banquet in Atlanta on Thursday, June 11, and the next day, 111 of us students plus the wonderful chaperones played many team building activities. This is where I met someone who will be a lifelong friend. Madeline and I were both trying to get out of any physical exertion and as a result we were both hiding in the corner.

Hours later, we were boarding planes to Washington D.C. For many, it was their first time in a plane. When we landed, we went to our hotel in which most rooms, you could see the Capitol in the distance. The next morning, we departed on three motor coaches to many sites including Mount Vernon where we ate lunch, the White House, The National Holocaust Memorial Museum, Union Station where we ate dinner, and then finally we toured the monuments. That Sunday, we left again to go to Arlington National Cemetery, the Kennedy Center where we had lunch, The National Archives, and Toby's Dinner Theatre. At the dinner theatre we ate dinner and watched a musical called "1776." After the show we departed back to our hotel, but the fun wasn't over just because we were in a motor coach. We sang the whole way home and got severely aggravated that it was always the same five songs that continually came on.

The rest of the week we went to the Smithsonian, the Newseum, and various other tourist sites. One night, though, we went on a riverboat cruise. We were on this cruise with the delegates from two other states, and we danced together and just had fun. The day we met our Congressmen, we also had the privilege of obtaining gallery passes to the House and the Senate. Having been interested in politics since I was in fourth grade, I was so excited, and I was around people who actually shared in that excitement. After several security checkpoints and pat downs because I'm a diva and had to wear ten bracelets, we finally made it into the Senate. My friend, Slater, and I sat down and we could see John Mc- Cain. It took us forever to get in which didn't leave time for the gift shop. This was a problem since I am all about gift shops, and Slater wanted to go in, too.

That night we had a dance with 1,700 other students from across America. We had so much fun dancing and laughing, and we even learned how to swing dance.

Unfortunately this was one of our last stops, and the next morning my flight group had to leave for the airport. When we got to Atlanta, the tears were inevitable. We knew we all lived in Georgia and seeing each other wouldn't be difficult, but we cried anyway.

I could go on about all the places we visited, but none of that really mattered. You see, I was with 110 students who were just like me. We all had huge dreams and plans, and we were different than our friends back home. Here, in Washington D.C., there was no judging; there were only people who actually understood each other. I miss all of my new friends, but I have already made plans to see a few of them.

I would like to thank the EMC's around the state of Georgia, but more importantly, the EMC that sent me, Mitchell EMC, the Mitchell EMC Board, Mrs. Heather Greene and Mrs. Sherrie Adams. Thank you all for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thank you, too, to my teachers at SGA and to Mrs. Leslie Godwin because without them, I wouldn't be who I am today and I would have never known about this trip at all.

Lastly, without God none of this would have fallen into place the way that it did, and I am so grateful that He allowed me to go on this trip and meet so many loving people.

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