Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Members of Congress, distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman...

I have a project every semester. Even when I tell myself "this semester I'm focusing on just school, I promise," it does nothing. I always end up with a project. My first semester I planned BYU-Idaho's International Food and Dance Festival. Once I was in charge of all humanitarian service activities on campus. In 2010 I was President of Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science National Honor Society. And this semester I was done. I was going to take 14 credits, get a 4.0, and peace out of here. Good plan, right? Wrong.

Somehow within the first two weeks of school I ended up with an 18 credit course load and had agreed to head up a campus wide US Congress Simulation for Pi Sigma Alpha. No pressure. Regardless of the unexpected extra work this semester has been great. I was lucky enough to work with incredible people in preparing for the simulation. The kind of people who change your life forever and leave you with new ideas and goals. I loved getting to know them better, and they will forever be dear to my heart. They also  helped shoulder huge chunks of the work so that I didn't go insane. I'm very grateful for that. 

So after a semester full of lots of planning, and stressing, and e-mailing, and laughing, and pizza eating it was finally time for the simulation! We had 70-something kids participate, which is amazing! Mostly they were extra credit seekers, but regardless I was thrilled with the final turn out. 

I was playing the role of the President of the United States of America. It's a simulation, so I didn't think much of it...but there is something humbling about hearing "Hail to the Chief" play as you walk into a room full of well dressed, respectable, intelligent individuals who are applauding your entrance and then go on to give a rendition of the State of the Union. We went ahead with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, then I gave the address. Very exciting, very nerve racking. Like any good president I had someone else write the speech for me (credit to Christopher Swanberg). You know you're giving a good speech when it starts: "When I took office 2 years ago, this country had gone to the dogs. But America is not a country for dogs, it's a country for people--you people..." He did a fantastic job writing  it, and it was a very good speech if I do say so myself. I was constantly interrupted with applause because, well, it was the State of the Union. As I reached the end of the speech I started to get a bit emotional. I really do love this country, and I appreciate the amount of work that goes into the political process.

The simulation went on from there. People broke up into committee sessions and floor sessions. Later we called an emergency joint session of congress to address a national security issue. There was a lot of stress and debate, but it was a great time. They even tried to impeach me. Fantastic, aye?

At the beginning of these simulated committee sessions and floor debates I truly wanted the participants to collaborate and reach the best decisions they were capable of. Is government perfect? No. But, it is my hope that those who are elected in this country have even a small portion of the hope and determination that were felt and expressed during the simulation.

We ended the evening with a banquet and some awards including but not limited to the "Mitty" for the best flip-flopper, the "Wilson" for the peace-seeker, and the "silver tongue" for the talker. Then I was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a thank you card. I felt so honored. It's something special to be recognized after long, long hours of hard work. I didn't do it on my own at all and I cannot say enough how grateful I am for everyone who helped make the simulation a success; but it was heartwarming to know that people appreciated the work that had been done.

It's funny that now the simulation is over my body assumes the rest of the semester has ended with it. My brain feels completely fried and I'm not sure how to muster up the motivation to get everything done, but I guess I'll get there somehow. I'm glad I've ended my last semester with good friends and fun projects, but right now I'm really ready to take a nice long 2 week nap and read something that doesn't have a homework assignment attached. T minus 10 days and counting!