My mother, Laurie, looked straight ahead at the road as she drove down some scenic highway. I pivoted my head to look out my passenger window at the rock formation that peacefully rested on the naturally formed hill. I let the feeling of the beauty seep into my skin for a moment, and then I decided to answer her question. “No, mother, I am not nervous,” were my exact words spoken with a great deal of certainty. It was the truth. I have always been an explorer at heart, which means never being afraid to leave my home in search of the new and exciting. I almost had to laugh at her sincere question as to whether I didn’t feel comfortable going away on my own for the second summer in a row. It felt good. It felt like something I had to do to be happy. I wasn’t even leaving my home state this time. As a matter of fact, I had begun to feel like maybe going to Willimantic for Girls State was a mistake-dull in full. I reached my destination, and was greeted by three older girls. I was about to embark on a week-long, student mock government program in which I had applied and earned a scholarship through my school to attend. Two hundred and fifty girls from my state also shared in this opportunity. I registered and went straight to my room. In the dorm, I was greeted by three other girls, my roomies, whom had arrived quite early. After short introductions, I learned they came from completely different sectors of Connecticut than myself. Each lady boasted her own personality, each equally enticing in their own ways. We marched down to the dining hall together, and grabbed some food. We took a seat at a very long table, which was loud with chatter. I tuned into the conversation only to hear young ladies speaking about politics- domestic and abroad. I always yearned for intellectual conversation, but at my high school, talk of weekend events and personal stories were far more common in the lunch hall. I thus eagerly joined the conversation. I was more than happy to absorb what my new friends had to say about current events, and to add my own beliefs regarding various matters. The next six days followed the same pattern. Before attending Girls State, I felt like I would have to embark on a trip to a foreign country in order to find a group of peoples utterly fascinating to me. My personal vacation, which included plenty of hard work, proved to enrich my spirit with what I thought I would never find. I have traveled far distances. I have traveled alone and with friends and family. This close to home trip, however, showed me how empowering it is to be a young American woman ready to embrace the world and learn from all it has to offer, as well as giving back to all communities so the world I love continues to grow and prosper in every way possible.
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