Participants (or delegates) in NSLC are rising juniors or seniors who are nominated by their TRIO directors because of their leadership potential. This year, the Talent Search Program at Coastal Bend College sent two students to participate. The students selected to represent the Talent Search Program were Katelyn Villarreal, a Karnes City High School student, and Damien Toelken, a Skidmore-Tynan High School student.
During their week in Washington, the students stayed at American University and participated in an interactive workshop on conflict resolution, attended discussions about college, visited the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, went on a historical and cultural tour of Washington, and attended a performance at the Kennedy Center. On Tuesday, the students went to Capitol Hill to visit their members of Congress and advocate for their TRIO programs.
One of the highlights of NSLC is the Mock Congress which is designed to extend the values of democracy and citizen participation by engaging the students in activities that address current issues of concern, increase their analytical skills to successfully prioritize important issues and courses of action, and gain a better understanding of the legislative process.
In the Mock Congress, the students examine current issues and discuss viewpoints for and against the issue. They must research, write, debate and develop bills of legislation. The steps of the process are similar to those in Congress itself. Students examine the topic, select a subtopic for the subcommittee, research and craft the bill in subcommittee, sponsor debate of the merits of the bill, complete final mark up on the bill to be ready for full floor reading and voting, and present the bill to the full “Congress.”
Some of the bills introduced this year included violence in video games, whether privacy in social media should be protected, the question of whether school cafeterias contribute to the nation’s obesity problem and same sex marriage. The students really enjoyed the research involved to enable them to argue both sides of the issue. The week concluded with a leadership banquet, Showtime at TRIO Talent Show and dance.
For more information on the Talent Search Program and educational opportunities for high school students, contact Lupe Ganceres at 361-354-2712 or 1-866-722-2838, ext. 2706.