Get YIGgy with it

From left to right, Justin Kouch (12), Rachel Kannady, Itamar Almalem (11) and Seth Khokar (11) stand in front of the state capital building after the closing ceremony. After a one year hiatus, Youth in Government is back in full throttle, ready to change the government.

Rachel Kannady

From left to right, Justin Kouch (12), Rachel Kannady, Itamar Almalem (11) and Seth Khokar (11) stand in front of the state capital building after the closing ceremony. After a one year hiatus, Youth in Government is back in full throttle, ready to change the government.

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With many people voicing their concerns over the current government, it seems as though the “adults” in charge cannot lead this country effectively. This past weekend, Feb. 27 – Mar. 1, three White Station students, Justin Kouch (12), Itamar Almalem (11) and Seth Khokar (11), attended a state-wide Youth in Government (YIG) conference in Nashville, TN. 

Every year there are three conferences, each hosted by the YMCA Center for Civic Engagement, with the first being the Capital Conference, where these Spartans attended. 

The purpose of YIG is to teach the youth how the state government works in its entirety, modeling what the TN state government does on a day to day basis. Students are separated into three different chambers 一 red, white and blue ㅡwhich is further divided into the House of Representatives and Senate. Every student in each chamber writes their own bill and presents it in their respective chambers to try to get it signed into law by the YIG governor. There are also other components such as Lobbyists, Governor’s Cabinet, Supreme Court and Press Corps, which are groups you would typically see in a real state Congress. All events took place within the state Capital building, so students could have a  full experience. Kouch was a Lobbyist, while Almalem and Khokar were Representatives in the White House. 

“At YIG you learn a lot about how government actually works and what steps lawmakers take to create laws,” Khokar said. “One thing I took away from this trip is that people may disagree with you, but there is always something that unites people.”

For the most part, everyone at the conference worked together to get their bills passed and to better the people of Tennessee, which is what the regular government should aim to do.

“My biggest takeaway from YIG was the increase in efficiency when party labels are no longer relevant,” Almalem said. “There were no elephant or donkey pins or Republican and Democrat labels to dictate how others should respond to our ideas. We worked as a collective unit fighting for Tennessee.”

Although Almalem and Khokar’s bill did not make it onto the docket, Almalem closed out the conference with an Outstanding Delegate award in the White House of Representatives.