This is it! This is the final week of my independent study. And what a time to end it–the new developments in politics have been shocking in both exciting and disturbing ways. It was so great to see that Jon Ossoff and Rev Warnock won! I think I speak for most young people when I say that this was an encouraging win. It means that Democrats will be able to make meaningful changes in health care, the environment, gun control, the economy, and more moving forward. However, it was so terrifying and disgusting to see the Capital be breached by domestic terrorists in DC. It was such a disturbing culmination of all of Trump and the Republicans’ lies surrounding the 2020 election. I have never been so disappointed in my country in my lifetime. The only just thing to do at this point is to impeach Trump–otherwise, we send the message that this behavior is acceptable.
In happier news, I had another op-ed published! This one was published in The News & Observer, The Herald Sun, and The Charlotte Observer (all sister publications) under the title, “Young People are Engaged, but Face Obstacles to Voting.” You can access it here: https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article248310435.html. For those who are wondering, the video attached to the article is from a Raleigh high schooler talking about youth engagement as well. However, we don’t know each other! So it’s kinda random that they put her on there. Anyways, I drafted an article over the Winter Break and sent it to the N&O. Their editor said he’d be willing to read it, but I never really heard anything back. However, I soon got a random email from the editor asking what school I went to! I realize now that he was writing my “about the author” at the end of my article. So, last Monday, my dad was reading the N&O and saw that I had my article published! It was really cool.
Now, I’m going to reflect on this experience as a whole. My favorite thing that I learned during my study was that people look out for other people in their communities. Prior to volunteering in politics, I had this opinion that it was all dirty and selfish. I had expected that everyone would only look out for their own interests and not so much those of their neighbors. However, when I started doing phone and text banks for candidates, I was able to have productive conversations with diverse groups of people. One question I was required by political organizations to ask often was, “What issues matter most to you?” Most of the time, people said that they cared about the criminal justice system or education policy because they wanted other members of their community to live safely and successfully. It was really surprising to see how people would come together and think beyond themselves.
I also learned that in life, I like to learn by engaging with people as well as doing technical research. I feel like these two aspects balance each other out and allow you to form a rounded, healthy perspective on topics (especially in politics). I really enjoyed reading the insights of commentators and researchers online because they serious knowledge about young voters. They had historical evidence and statistics that were really interesting. However, it was so refreshing to talk to community members and to people that these politics are actually affecting–in public schools, on public health care, and in government jobs. I think especially when I comes to politics, it is important to not simply cloud yourself in the opinions and ideas of commentators–the people are what really matters.
This has been such an enlightening and insightful experience. I’m so grateful for everyone who has read my blog and supported me. I have just finished my culminating essay, so anyone who is interested in reading it, you can access it here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OVSMH4pvMDaCkBJZ6ZqZuCy5SIwDe_28AbbMRItQsB8/edit?usp=sharing! Thanks so much for tuning in.