What My Delegates Taught Me

By Jordan Waddell August 31, 2016

May 16th, 2016. The day 10 young adults from around the country came together to facilitate Citizenship Washington Focus. Coming in, we knew we would be learning about the city from our mentors and from each other, but one thing we were not prepared for was how much we would learn from our delegates. Here are the top 5 things I learned from my delegates throughout the summer:

  1. You can sleep later. Nothing beats making memories with your friends. You won’t regret losing an hour of sleep because you were laughing, playing cards or making new friends. Sometimes I found myself longing for sleep while my delegates stayed up until the early morning with their new friends. By the end of the week, delegates left with new forever friends and so many memories to bind them together. This inspired me to make the most of every moment with my delegates and fellow program assistants.
  2. Timeliness, although important, is not everything. Now, I’m not going to use this as an excuse to be late to work or something important like a job interview, but in the scope of being in Washington, D.C. it’s okay to take a few extra minutes to take the sights in. It’s alright if I stay out a little later than planned to explore. Some experiences are once in a lifetime. Washington, D.C. was that for many of my delegates.
  3. We all have different opinions. This may seem obvious to many people, but it’s definitely put into perspective at a program like CWF. I had delegates from all regions of this country; from Florida to Montana to Texas. It was one of the most interesting things to see how thoughts varied by region and by person. It truly expanded my horizons and opened my mind to new thoughts and ideas I didn’t think I would have.
  4. When in doubt, laugh it out. Things almost never go perfectly as planned. Being flexible when situations arise and laughing it out when appropriate is something my delegates had to do every week. The moment I realized I just needed to laugh it out was Monday of week four at Mount Vernon. It was a lovely morning on the grounds, and on the way back to the 4‑H Center I discovered my pants had been split all morning. Lovely, right? At that point, what else could I do but laugh it out? I told my delegates the story later and they laughed too. Whether it was rain changing our plans around or switching the schedule up when things didn’t go according to the plan, my delegates taught me to roll with the punches and laugh it off as appropriate.
  5. Enjoy each moment. As a program assistant, it’s easy to feel complacent with the program because we repeat it many times. CWF is an amazing program and watching its impact on a new set of delegates each and every week taught me to enjoy each moment, no matter how many times I had done it before. The friendships created, the “aha!” moments and the marvel in delegates’ eyes at monuments and memorials. Those are the things that inspired me to enjoy each moment. Each delegation enjoyed it in a different way and I was proud to be along for that ride with them.

To conclude, my sweet delegates taught me this and so much more. It was a summer of growth for both the delegates and myself. These are lessons that will stay with me forever and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to learn them. Thank you, delegates.

Gabriela Valentin

CWF PA 2016