CUMMING, GA - July 08, 2014
Responsibility, reverence, and sacrifice were a few of the words that surfaced repeatedly during a recent youth leadership trip to Washington, D.C, sponsored by Sawnee EMC. The nation’s Capital served as a temporary “home” for two (2) local high school students, Nili Nourpavar (Centennial High School) and Chad Newstrom (West Hall High School), and as a fitting reminder of the courage and character of patriots who founded and fought for this country.
Earlier this year, these two (2) deserving delegates were chosen by Sawnee EMC, through an application and interview process, to represent the cooperative June 12th – 19th on the nationally recognized Washington Youth Tour. They joined 107 high school students from across Georgia in this national program to learn leadership skills, the need for civic involvement, and to immerse themselves in the culture and history of the United States.
“The students come away with an understanding of the challenges facing our entire nation, and they gain new insight to the vision, leadership and sacrifice required to build a better life for themselves, their families and their communities,” says Cindy Badgett with Sawnee EMC.
According to Georgia Youth Tour Director Gale Cutler, the purpose of the Youth Tour is to help EMCs promote stronger communities and a stronger nation, by giving as many young people as possible the ability and desire to make meaningful, lifelong contributions. Another key component is to teach students to appreciate diverse points of view and accept different social, racial and cultural backgrounds.
Various aspects of the trip, combined with visits to museums, monuments and other historic sites, provided a unique lesson not duplicated in any classroom. Delegates noted with reverence the service and sacrifice of men and women who served the country. Others pointed to historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights which left them awed and inspired. Still others remarked that pictures, textbooks and in-class discussions could not adequately convey key periods in history such as the Holocaust and how the tragedy became real for them after time spent at the Holocaust Museum.
“This trip allowed me to experience everything I learned in class, but also be able to truly absorb the countries past,” stated Nili Nourparvar, Sawnee EMC delegate.
According to Cutler, it is common for student ideas and opinions to change following the experience. In fact, following the trip, some students return to consider internships at the Capitol, careers in public service and to reassess their future plans.
Georgia delegates from 2014 plan to pursue degrees in diverse fields such as pastoral studies, medicine, business management, sports broadcasting, political science, computer engineering, biology, chemistry and criminal justice, among others. The Georgia delegation joined approximately 1,600 of their talented and ambitious peers and 300 chaperones from 43 other states.
“We think it’s important to emphasize to the next generation, particularly at this critical time in their lives, that standing up for what you believe in is a real test of courage and conviction,” says Cindy Badgett.
This year marked Georgia’s biggest group ever - 109 students and 16 chaperones sent by 38 of the EMCs in Georgia. The event kicked off with a banquet in Atlanta, emceed by Fox 5 Atlanta’s Beth Galvin, who happens to be an alumnus of the Washington Youth Tour. The group toured the FDR Little White House in Warm Springs, GA before flying to Washington, D.C.
Other highlights included stops at Arlington Cemetery, as well as the Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, MLK, WWII, Vietnam and Korean War memorials. The group also toured the U.S. Capitol, viewed the Declaration of Independence, and visited the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian museums.
The students gained perspective on some of today’s important issues and their role as involved citizens during discussions with staff and/ or members of Georgia's congressional delegation, including personal visits and photos with Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and U.S. Representatives Lynn Westmoreland, Rob Woodall, Austin Scott, Doug Collins, Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and John Barrow.
Finally, all the state groups convened for National Youth Day, sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Assoc. to learn from public figures and other inspirational speakers, including Jo Ann Emerson, NRECA’s chief executive officer.
For nearly 50 years, more than 50,000 young citizens have traveled to Washington with the help of their electric cooperative.
Photos from this year’s tour are posted on the national Youth Tour Web site at http://photos.youthtour.org/2014-Youth-Tour/Georgia.
About Sawnee EMC
Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation is an electric distribution cooperative headquartered in Cumming, Georgia. Sawnee serves electricity to approximately 158,600 accounts in seven (7) counties of greater north Georgia. Sawnee’s assets exceed $524 million, with energy sales of 3.6 billion kWh and annual revenue of $354 million. With a team of approximately 305 dedicated professionals and over 10,150 miles of distribution line, Sawnee stands ready at all times to meet the needs of its members/owners. SEMC strives daily to live up to their motto…
“At Sawnee EMC, We’re More Than Electricity, We’re Service”.
About Georgia EMC
Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state’s 41 EMCs, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. Collectively, Georgia’s customer-owned EMCs provide electricity and related services to more than four million people, half of Georgia’s population, across 73 percent of the state’s land area.