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Often times it is not the caliber of the experience, but the caliber of those who experience it with you can truly change the way you think. When I received my acceptance letter to attend Missouri Boys State last summer, it was difficult to contain my excitement.
Boys State is a week-long summer simulation hosted by the American Legion. Every high school in Missouri sends junior student representatives to create and run their own city, county and state governments. I have always had a passion for politics, and the opportunity to take part in a world-class government simulation was practically a dream come true.
Upon arriving, I joined 50 unfamiliar faces as a citizen of the fictional city of Pershing. I would be spending the long week ahead with them. That same day at 9 p.m. we had the daunting task of electing our mayor. I felt a sense of despair. I dreaded that my peers would not be as passionate about the simulation as I, but much to my surprise, after about an hour of lively campaigning and debate, we had elected our mayor.
I realized this group of men was different. They weren’t typical high school students who would dismiss Boys State as a childish game of pretend. Every citizen wanted to make the week a success, regardless of the effort and hours it took. Throughout the week, we accomplished more than we had thought possible. We wrote countless city ordinances and elected multiple state senators from our city; we decorated every inch of our hallway in painstaking detail.