Kaua‘i’s Leilani K had the trip of a lifetime this summer when she joined KIUC’s Youth Tour to Washington D.C.
Every year, the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative sends four students on this trip of a lifetime to visit our nation’s capital so our leaders of tomorrow can learn about the political process. Leilani joined student delegates from all around the country as they toured the capital, learning about our government and history. This is what she wrote for KIUC’s Currents magazine.
Traveling to Washington, D.C., has been an amazing transformative experience, but what really makes Youth Tour special is sharing that adventure with a group of strangers who quickly became my friends.
On Day One, I didn’t know what to expect. In fact, I rarely ever knew what to expect as our trip took us across the United States and all around Washington, D.C. At times there was a bit of a culture shock. Kauaʻi, Kansas, and D.C. are all very different, but I enjoyed every second of the experiences, especially the ones that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I think they have helped me grow as a person; however, I still am completely unable to line dance despite the efforts of the Kansas girls to teach me.
A part of Youth Tour that I loved was getting the opportunity to meet one of our state representatives, Congresswoman Jill Tokuda, and being able to talk to her. Being young in today’s political landscape often feels like being forced to stand on the sidelines of a game that we want to join but can’t. It was empowering that Youth Tour offered us the opportunity to get in touch with the people representing us in D.C. We were able to ask pertinent questions and communicate concerns.
Outside of our Kauaʻi and Kansas group, I met other young people from all across the United States. At the beginning of our trip, we got enamel pins and were told that pin trading was a big deal during the Youth Tour, and oh boy, was it a big deal! People were fixated on collecting a pin from every state and got incredibly excited about rare pins. There was one pin known as the “Texas waffle” (it was made to look like a waffle in the shape of Texas). You would think that pin was made of gold and diamond not metal and paint! But the pins were more than collectable souvenirs, they were a way to meet everyone, to seek out every group. Pin trading was a fun way to talk to others and make new connections, and now I have 40 pins to remind me of people I met, from California to Maine!
YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT KIUC’S YOUTH TOUR HERE.
Being young in today’s political landscape often feels like being forced to stand on the sidelines of a game that we want to join but can’t. It was empowering that Youth Tour offered us the opportunity to get in touch with the people representing us in D.C. We were able to ask pertinent questions and communicate concerns.
Leilani K, Class of 2024