Why do thousands of students get together in mock legislatures, courts and newsrooms every year? How is a program that has no direct goal or tangible product feasible and sustainable? Welcome to Youth In Government where more questions are raised than answered, and disagreement is the norm not the exception. Out of this unsanitary stew of ideas comes something surprising. Leaders and friendships.
I’m Saul Roselaar, a senior at Appleton North High School who holds the position of Secretary of State. I joined YIG my freshman year, two years after I would have liked to, but it was when I’d first heard about the program. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the program when I first joined, painfully aware of my late involvement, so I seized the first opportunity I saw and served as the Floor Leader in what was called the ‘Blue’ Assembly. An ill-timed debate tournament prevented me from attending Pre-government and derailed my intentions of running for any position the following year. That next year, my sophomore year, I made some of my closest friends. YIG, for so many people, stimulates the closest relationships due to the solid foundation it provides. When your discussion with others begins not with small talk, but with questions of values, responsibility, and ethics, you establish true solidarity, far stronger than superficial ties. It is impossible to leave YIG without at least a few new friends. I began my campaign for Secretary of State more than a year in advance by developing proposals and designing campaign graphics. I ran for Secretary of State because the duties seemed so open ended.
The position encompasses little more than organizing a ‘YIG Cares’ project and giving a speech at the governors ball. The YIG cares project has traditionally been a food/clothing/toiletry drive style event seeking to give back to the communities that nurtured us. In my first month as Secretary of State, I met with Doug Lafollette, Wisconsin’s Secretary of State, invited government employees to speak during, and observe parts of Model-government, and introduced the Press corps to the president of The Wheeler Report, a government news agency. I was truly able to set my own goals for myself and the program. YIG is largely youth led, which means that if delegates want something to happen, by pursuing an objective through a democratic process, they can make it happen. You can make it happen.