OSWEGO, NY – Mary Caroline Losurdo recently returned from the National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.
The 10-day program offered outstanding high school students from across the United States the opportunity to take part in a unique leadership development conference in our nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital.
An honors student, Mary will be a senior this fall at OHS.
“The NYLC was definitely an experience. When we weren’t in our Model Congress or Leadership Group Meetings, we were usually out exploring DC,” Mary said.
At the conference, students interacted with a
variety of personnel who operate within the three branches of government, the news media and the international community.
Her first day started with a series of orientation events, after which Mary was assigned to the Robinson Leadership Group where she met her faculty advisor for the week.
“We spent a day at the Smithsonian Museums, the war memorials, the Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt memorials. Truthfully, the sight-seeing was my favorite part of the whole experience,” Mary said.
She met “some really cool people,” she said, adding, “Surprisingly, I made some solid friendships.”
“It was very neat to be working with people from all across the country,” she said. “For example, one of my closest friends is currently in the Air Force; he resides in Oklahoma where he leaves three weekends out of a month to train. Another one of my better friends lives in Pennsylvania, but is originally from Bosnia! Making English her second language! How cool!”
While at the conference, Mary had two roommates.
One was from Las Angeles. Her father is a retired LA Laker. And the other goes to an all-girls school in Michigan.
“The point I am trying to make here is that I had to work so closely with people from all over the nation, with very, very different views and experiences,” Mary explained. “And, what I learned from that will stick with me as I continue to grow and merge into the ‘real world.'”
All things considered, it was worth all the hard work, she said.
“When I first got there, I wasn’t so sure. I felt very out of place. The world of politics is not something I spend my free time thinking about, unlike many of these students,” Mary said. “But soon I discovered that I could take the skills I was learning at NYLC and put them into my everyday life, my everyday aspirations. And really, if I can do that, how could it not be worth it?”
For Mary, a member of the OHS Environmental Club,Ã‚Â Ã‚Â a very important moment at NYLC came when a handful of the scholars were able to take a bus to the Greenpeace headquarters.
“You see, the environment is something I am very passionate about. I’d never heard of Greenpeace before, so when they showed us a video of some of the things they had done, I was astonished, at the least,” she said.
Being a non-violent group, the people of Greenpeace have had to take some pretty drastic measures to stop companies from spilling oil into the water, stop whaling, promote change, reversing global climate change, and more she said.
When facing people of force who are not so peaceful, members of Greenpeace have found themselves risking their own lives to make a crucial point, Mary added.
“At first, I saw their tactics as somewhat overdone and unnecessary. But, my opinion quickly changed,” she said. “If they were to approach some huge ship in the middle of the ocean and said, ‘Hey, can you please not spill that oil into the water? It’s really bad for the ocean life. Thanks!’ nothing would get done. But if they pull up to a ship in their little canoes and say ‘This isn’t right. If you are going to spill this oil into the water, you are going to have to spill it on us too, because we aren’t moving.’ then they may have more incentive to stop the spill (hopefully.)”
“The people at Greenpeace were so friendly and soo inspiring!” she added.
She also participated in an educational simulation entitled “If I Were President.”
It focused on executive decision-making and the impact world leaders have on global events. Mary then took on the role of a real-life presidential advisor in order to resolve a conflict between the United States and Russia.
Mary also gained a new perspective on some of the issues facing the global community. First, the scholars took part in the “Global Challenge” simulation, which focused on the current crisis in Darfur. Mary then examined the challenges faced by our world leaders and explored ways in which leaders with differing views can work together to resolve global issues.
She was able to delve into the concept of advocacy; participating in a panel discussion featuring a current hot-button issue. Representatives from different sides of the debate spoke to the students and fielded questions pertaining to their expertise.
She also had an opportunity to interact with the lawmakers and staffers who determine our nation’s legislative agenda.