By Shazia Siddiqi
Shazia Siddiqi, a young high school student visited Washington recently as part of Illion’s Youth to Washington Program. She was the first Muslim girl to have attended this prestigious program. Here she gives her impression about the visit.
This trip was an unbelievable experience! I had expected it to be boring and tiresome, but I had too much fun for it to be anything negative. Washington D.C. truly deserves to be this great nationâ€™s capitol. It is a city filled with an abundance of history and diversity. The monuments, museums, and government buildings provided me with a unique learning experience. I discovered how the democratic process has changed throughout the years and how our government officials carried out their duties in the past. Meeting our Congressmen was eye-opening. I had always thought politicians were just egotistical and greedy, but talking to them face-to-face made me realize how much they sincerely care about advancing the interests of this country and its people. As we walked through the streets or shopped at the Pentagon City Mall, I got a taste of the diversity in the city. It was remarkable to me because when one lives in a rural area, one is not exposed to this. I was surrounded by people from all over the country and the world. I felt an independent, but connected feeling inside of me.
The most memorable part of the trip, however, was meeting the participants and chaperones. I have made countless friendships through this trip and I hope they will last a lifetime. I was most concerned about not fitting in or getting along with anyone, but after the first day, I recognized that there was nothing to worry about. I came to know that my fellow participants shared my concerns and that helped us to grow closer. The chaperones were so kind, helpful, and hilarious! I have been inspired to serve my country and its citizens in the best way possible and am forever grateful to my cooperative, AIEC, NRECA, and to all the generous people who helped make this journey one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life!