Ah, the weekend. Who doesn’t love weekends? Especially, THREE day weekends! Its time to sleep in, relax, that stress-free time to just snuggle with your blanket and let go! But not for FEEST! On Sunday, January 25 and Monday, January 26, we went to Youth Action Day in Olympia, where would be advocating for food justice and the most exciting part- talk to REAL senators who could support the issues we wanted to see addressed. On Sunday, I woke up to the bone chilling morning and slowly got ready to go to the FEEST office. I was the first intern there and greeted Ela and watched as everyone slowly rolled in. When everyone finally arrived, we got into a big van and started our one hour drive to Olympia. In the van, we reviewed our notes on what we planned to say while Elizabeth constantly kept up our excitement by exclaiming, “Oh my god! Look at that!” to things outside.
We expected to be the People of Color organization there, but were pleasantly surprised when we saw that there were mostly People of Color. When you entered the room, we were greeted with handshakes from the members of Legislative Youth Action Council, who were amazing people and youth representatives. The room was filled with excited teenagers who were munching away on muffins and pop tarts. Myself and the other interns walked around introducing ourselves to the other groups and advertised FEEST.
After, we all went outside where we participated in an icebreaker. We had to pick a side of a debate (i.e. chocolate or vanilla) and make valid points as to why you chose that side. After debating from some time, my group ended up playing a hand slapping game and making a huge circle in the parking lot! When we got back inside the building, we went into a different room and we were told that each group had to introduce themselves and their organization. My fellow intern, Zeinab Ali volunteered to be the lead speaker to introduce us and FEEST and did a great job. After introductions, we learned a game called, 5 Why’s. 5 Why’s is a game where you keep asking why, so you can get a deeper meaning behind the original question. This was a somewhat difficult game because you really had to think about what you were saying and there were times when you didn’t know whether you found the deeper meaning or not. But it was fun and interesting to listen to people’s thoughts.
Then, Greg Williamson, Assistant Director for Partnerships and Collaboration, from the Department of Early Learning led us on a tour of the State Capitol. He had a lot of energy and was funny in a sarcastic way. He took us to the sundial, where we learned was where lobbyists and protestors came to gather, then to the Capitol Building, which STILL dazzled me even though I had been there many times before.
When lunch was over, all the groups were split up and were in different rooms. FEEST was with another group and the point of all us being split up was that LYAC was teaching us how to be prepared when we had to talk to legislators. We learned how important it was to get our point across in a fast, clear way since they were busy people. Then, everyone gathered back to one room and we listened to two guest speakers who were real senators, Sharon Tomiko-Santos and Chad Magendanz.
For the night, we stayed in the cabins at Black Lake Camp.
The next morning, in the van on the way back to the State Capitol, we studied our notes and practiced what were were going to say. I was so nervous about what was going to happen that day- talking in front of these people that could potentially help make the changes that I wanted to help make! We went into the building, had breakfast and continued to study up. Later, Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen came in to speak about his job and his projects. Afterwards, Washington’s Governor, Jay Inslee was supposed to arrive to also speak, but we had to leave early, because FEEST had an appointment with his wife, First Lady, Trudi Inslee. She is such a warm, lovable lady that clearly cared about what we had to say about the issues we care about that effect our community. We had hot chocolate for us and really great cookies.
It was time to talk to the senators. I ended up talking to each one because I was the only intern talking about converting school lunch kitchens into scratch cooking kitchens. I was nervous the entire time! Especially the second time, while waiting for my turn to present and rehearsing what to say in to my head over and over again, I could feel my heart just ready to burst out of my chest! I even ended up messing up and not finishing but it was okay. I knew I had another chance to do it better than the last. So, at lunch, I practiced with another one of my fellow interns from Nova High School, Gloria. My co-intern, from Chief Sealth High School, Evelyn suggested that we go to the Capitol Building and one of the most amazing, but strangest things happened. This man suddenly started singing opera and his voice bounced off the marble walls making it such an amazing experience! I think after listening to the man sing, it gave me some kind of reassurance of some sort, because at the last meeting I was confident at what I was saying and didn’t stutter as much as I did previously.
Youth Action Day was such an amazing event that I think every teen should at least experience something like it at least once in their life. They say that a lot of kids come out feeling changed and I can agree this has had an positive effect on me. This trip increased my confidence and awareness of the things happening around me.