This spring, JiYoon Sung ’12 was nominated and selected for the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. The Conference, which took place in late March and early April, only accepts students who are specially recommended by teachers at their respective schools.
On their website, http://www.cylc.org/nylc/, the program states its purpose in the following manner: “The National Young Leaders Conference (NYLC) is designed to instruct and enrich promising students in a hands-on, experiential atmosphere while preparing them for a lifetime of leadership. NYLC offers students the opportunity to discuss current events and issues with top policy makers in Washington, D.C., analyze concepts and then put them immediately to work.”
JiYoon said that he took part in many simulations of political processes, such as being forced to make a difficult decision about an international issue. One example of this was when he and his peers had to reach a verdict concerning the notorious Somalian pirates. JiYoon said it was very difficult to come to a clear consensus during these mock scenarios, particularly when faced with the question of how to intervene in an international affair in a peaceful manner.
In another exercise, the students took on the roles of Senators and had to go through the motions of passing a bill. Half of the group was ‘Republican’ and the other half ‘Democrat.’ JiYoon says, “It was really hard to get the two sides to agree.”
The experience also provided JiYoon with the opportunity to meet two New Hampshire politicians, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Congressman Charles Bass. With Kelly Ayotte, JiYoon was able to ask her questions about her top priorities and focus at the moment (her answer: energy), and JiYoon was the only student who was able to meet Mr. Bass.
One of the most unexpected rewards of the experience, he says, was meeting the other students at the Conference: “Some were very quiet and shy, and some really liked talking to people. Some of them were extremely smart and already knew a lot about politics; I learned from them. By the end of the conference, we were all friends! We are all keeping in touch now.”