Saturday June 2, 2021: The Long Goodbye.

Saturday’s ALA EGS State of the State filled us with all the feels. Between the Governors address, candle ceremony, announcements of the

Samsung Scholarship winner,

ALA Girls Nation Senators,

and some staff who are silly and think that they are going to retire quietly without massive protest. It sure was a morning filled with gratitude. If we have a weepy Wednesday then Saturday quickly turned into “soaked Saturday” from all of the waterworks happening from a week’s worth of emotion.

This virtual session has been different all along, and we have tried really hard not to continually draw comparisons between the real life program and the virtual program out of respect to the participants. But as we sat on the zoom call at the conclusion of the program, when the pomp and circumstance had ended and the program was stripped down to just 300 or so people staring at each other through squares on a screen, each one lingering not ready to say goodbye, I couldn’t help but smile and draw yet another comparison.

The long goodbye.

The kiss and cry area at ALA EGS is often the location of some of the longest, most emotional goodbyes we can see. You can look around and see parents befuddled at why you would be this distraught leaving people you just met. I mean, it is not like it’s your first sleep away camp and you don’t have social media to connect with these people on. But the long goodbye is a beautiful representation of the transformation that occurs during this inspiring program.

This week transforms strangers into friends. Well, more than friends really- its a sisterhood. “From the outside looking in you can’t understand it and from the inside looking out you really can’t explain it.” It just is. The ups and downs, struggles, defeats and victories all create this bubble that produce bonds that will carry citizens and staff through a lifetime of experiences.

This weeks long goodbye wasn’t after room checks, or when buses arrived for boarding. It wasn’t after parents showed up, or when parents were called because they didn’t show up. Instead, it occurred in the awkward moments following the state of the state ceremony when people sat in their own houses connected virtually from zoom. When people weren’t quite ready to let go of the magic that was found in this week long bubble that is ALA Empire Girls State, they found comfort in the long goodbye.

This year’s long goodbye came in the form of informal conversation of thank you’s and goodbyes. It became about the “you don’t know how much I needed this” and the “the staff helped me do more than my comfort zone” moments. Yes. This year was different, but moments like the long goodbye and emotional farewells remind us that we did it. Collectively every ALA unit that sponsored a citizen, every citizen that showed up day in and day out, every staff member that wore a variety of hats, and every behind the scenes late night and early morning work session allowed for us to find the magic throughout the week that culminated in that awkward, emotional long goodbye.

And ya know what?

You’ve got this- after all it’s never really a goodbye……

and that is why we love (ALA) Girls State!

Til then, here are some of our wishes for this year’s 2021 ALA EGS citizens!

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Friday June 2, 2021: When Legislative Session Never Ends

Legislative session is always a long day at ALA Empire Girls State. The night before staff tries to warn citizens to get some sleep because “tomorrow is going to be a long day” but in the minds of 16 year olds- what day at ALA EGS isn’t a long day? What happens when you hold the ALA EGS legislative session on Zoom? It’s a long day.

Lt Governor Hanellin was truly a rockstar! She managed breakout rooms for the senate, voting on google forms, thunderstorms affecting participant’s connectivity, and the annual disengaged citizen with grit and grace. She represented herself, her community, her county and her party well.

Some bills failed, some bills passed, and some didn’t make it to the floor.

The Governor gathers a team together to read and review each bill for content, the night before the legislative session. They then create a list of the order in which the bills will come to the floor.

The following Bills made it to the floor.

Bills that Passed:

  • Federalist COVID-19 Bill
  • Federalist Health Bill
  • Federalist Education Bill
  • Nationalist Environmental Bill

Bills that Failed:

  • Federalist Technology
  • Federalist Agriculture
  • Federalist Homeland Security

After a long day in session we usually let off some steam by hosting talent night or county fun night, this was no different and silliness of the night included lipsync battles. I mean , is it even allowed to be called ALA Empire Girls State if a famous NSYNC lip sync doesn’t happen?

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Thursday 7/1/21: The Future is Female.

Congratulations to the state officials of our mythical 51st state! You join the ranks of some pretty awesome ladies who, over the last 80 years, have filled the role you are about to embark on! We are so proud of you!

Campaigning for the positions might have looked a little different this year!

There was coffee with the Candidates. This allowed participants to speak with the candidates and ask them questions about issues and topics important to them or their county!

There was flipgrid videos. Flipgrid is a platform where citizen’s prepared 1-2 minutes speeches about whey people should vote for them! Citizens could then view the videos by position to learn more about the candidates.

There was Town Hall Debate. Citizens were able to submit questions ahead of time to be answered in a town hall debate. These questions were not shared ahead of time with the candidates, but instead required the Top 8 candidates to think on their feet and demonstrate some skills that would make them the best candidate for the job!

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6/30/21: Weepy Wednesday….Wait, What?

Wednesday at ALA Empire Girls State has long been referred to as weepy Wednesday. When preparing today’s post we started asking around trying to figure out exactly when did this unofficial title begin? No one, past or present on staff really knows! What we do know for sure, is that there a lot of reasons that Wednesday is, well…..WEEPY!

So, it’s Wednesday. Big deal. Well you are right, Wednesday is a big deal around our mythical 51st state! Wednesday is the day of many elections. Each county has elections during the day and later on in the session we go to party caucus where each caucus can hear up to 44 speeches as they work their way to nominating candidates for our highest offices- Governor, Lt. Governor, Comptroller, and Attorney General. This process creates a lot of weepy moments. Sometimes it is because we are so over the moon excited that we weep for joy, while other times it is because we are coming to terms with defeat. In a room full of this many awesome people, it sometimes means that this is only the first or second time in which participants haven’t put in hard work to claim victory. Defeat is hard-especially when it is not something you are accustomed too. These girls are so amazing that it just isn’t something that happens to them on a regular basis. So defeat is hard in any scenario, but at ALA EGS defeat is magnified by the high levels of success that each of the citizens have achieved prior to attending the program! So defeat definitely equals weeping.

If those two reasons aren’t reason enough to be weepy……

Throw in the utter exhaustion that campaigning, meeting new friends, networking, and being over-scheduled creates. Even the staff get’s weepy on Wednesdays. It just happens. At least this year we aren’t weeping over the elevators, the stairs, the lack of AC, the wildlife, the milkshake line, missing home, missing friends, missing significant others, and/or our AP grades!

Today if we weeped at all it might have been because of the tears of joy shed for these candidates and that the election process was working really well on the digital platform!

Congratulations to these 8 ladies on being your party’s nominees for office! Let’s join them by letting the waterworks fly on this oh so fabulous weepy Wednesday!

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Monday June 28th – Day 2- There’s a lot to DO!

Day 2 was a flurry of zoom links, google classroom assignments and fun conversations! We started off with some Americanism with none other than Whitney Houston’s rendition of the National Anthem. One participant was quoted as saying, “Whitney’s version is in the Smithsonian” and we could not agree more. It truly is the version that all others are compared too. Another participant countered with the thought that the only one that might have set the bar higher was Jimmy Hendrix on guitar. So you see politics, current issues, and committee work aren’t the only sharing of ideas happening at our ALA EGS Virtual session.

Here are some highlights from the day!

Dr. Ferradino shares with us the work that lies ahead in committee work,
oh and that politics and campaigning are often compared to awkward first dates!
ALA President Linda was all smiles with her well branded background as she shared information about the American Legion Auxiliary and served as the Nationalist Party Advisor!
The Nationalist Party Leaders!
The Federalist Party Leaders!
Each year one of our staff members meticulously monitors the portions of tomatoes at meal time. In honor of being virtual tomato deliveries are still occurring so that we can keep the tradition alive! Thank goodness we live in a world where Instacart and other delivery services exist!
How lucky are we to have someone as famous as Whitney Houston sing the National Anthem for us?
The perks of a virtual session for sure!
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Tuesday 6/29/21:…Committee Work Makes the Dream work!

What a day! We started off with our fearless Political Instructor Cecilia Ferradino who gave us some more insight into our work into committees and we were off. This year’s committee photos might look a little different, but the work, effort, and dedication of this girls is second to none! Here are a few of the committees working together to solve the problem’s that exist within our Mythical 51st state. While working together members of the platform committee visited committees to ensure that the bills that were being developed aligned with the Party platform that they were developing as well! Here are a few of our committees at work this week!

Nationalist Platform Committee
Federalist Platform Committee
Federalist Agriculture Committee
Federalist Health Committee
Nationalist Health Committee
Federalist Education Committee
Nationalist COVID-19 Committee
Nationalist Education Committee
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Sunday 6/27/21…….And we are off!

Today wrapped up day 1 of our live virtual session of ALA Empire Girls State! Did you know that the 2021 session of ALA Empire Girls State marks the 80th year that NYS has held an ALA Empire Girls State program? It is so exciting and terrifying when you have done something for 80 years and then have to pivot to a virtual platform. Much of what the ALA Empire Girls State program is built off of is the relationships formed which makes shifting to a virtual program nerve wracking. The staff showed up with their energy, their enthusiasm and their flexility which made today the success we knew it could be. Some of the team was even up at 5am (no not for early am runs though) as they are joining the sessions from the West Coast. It is great to have so many alumnae joining us from all over and it has been great adding some new auxiliary members to the mix too!

The day kicked off with a general session lead by our fearless leader Jennifer Farley. It was exciting to see a zoom room that included around 3oo participants. Now, during a regular session of ALA EGS after general session participants can be seen trying to figure out where to go. You can identify a lost soul who just doesn’t quite look like they know where they are going and can hear counties who are counting off and have “number 5” who is missing. In a virtual world however, people are emailing and texting and just vanishing before our eyes when they don’t show up at the next scheduled zoom link or in the google classroom.

There were a few participants that we needed to follow up with, but it was pretty magical when logging into the first county meetings and the citizens were there! If you have ever been to ALA EGS, you know that feeling of anxious butterflies during the first county meeting? If you have never been lucky enough to attend or be part of the team, imagine how you might feel when being face to face with 30-40 people you don’t know. Imagine the awkward conversation as you get to know each other and then being thrown into elections and decision making only amplifies it. Today the girls overcame that to truly embrace the experience. Many have lived in virtual classrooms at some point during the pandemic, they have had more than their fair share of screen-time, but today the citizens attending the ALA Empire Girls State program showed up. They selected people to represent their county in committees. They grappled with embracing their role in a county description and understanding how to best represent that county at a committee level. They selected nominees to run for party level positions, and voted on county level positions. Some won the races and others lost, but they supported one another.

Today proved that the magic of what is ALA Empire Girls State can still be found even in a virtual platform. Would we rather be together counting tomatoes at lunch and riding the pony during free time? Ooooh yeah!!! But county cheers were worked on, pony riding videos were shared, and relationships have started to be formed. Yes this week will be nothing like anything we have ever experienced, but what year at ALA EGS isn’t ? It is always a wild ride, it is always exhausting, and guess what? It is always filled with many pivots!

We are so excited for the week ahead, but so lucky to be able to spend it together, even if it is virtually!

Say it with me….

We love (ALA) Girls State!
We love (ALA) Girls State!
We love (ALA) Girls State!
We love (ALA) Girls State!

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Meet our ALA EGS TEAM

Get to know the people who make it all happen!

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Happy July 4th

Happy Fourth of July! 


Today everyone was excited to be celebrating the holiday with their families and with their fellow citizens of virtual ALA Empire Girls State. We had a timely discussion about proper flag folding and etiquette and some great ideas were shared about how to educate others on these topics. The girls also noted that they were excited to be able to watch Hamilton on Disney+ given the historical events that it portrays and the significance of this time of year in American history. 


Overall, our time today was spent reflecting on what this holiday means to each of us individually and to the nation as a whole, and I think everyone felt a bit more thankful for the sacrifices that others have made to create and protect this country we call home. 


Cheers,

Sr. Counselor Kaylee Mathews

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July 2, 2020 Overview

On Tuesday and Thursday, the citizens had the opportunity to interact with each other, the staff and the multi-talented political advisors in our live Google Meets. These sessions gave everyone an opportunity to say hi, share stories about their hometowns and get an overview of Empire Girls State. We discussed how EGS works, which issues affected the different counties and EGS as a whole, Americanism, elections, public policy, why political participation is important and how and why a person should get involved in local issues. The citizens engaged in some creative problem-solving and made insightful applications to “real-world” problems. 

-Cecilia F.
Your Groovy Political Instructor

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