What I Discovered in D.C.

A week ago today I was on a flight to Washington D.C. with thirteen high schoolers to experience our nation’s capitol and attend a leadership conference. I’m always amazed and humbled when I get to spend quality time with young people. Working in a high school, there are days when I hear a lot more grumbling about teenagers than I do praise. I often wonder if more adults would intentionally spend quality time with young people, would they see the value and potential in this future generation?

Over the weekend–which was packed with nonstop activity–I made some pretty cool observations about the group of young people that I was privileged to hang out with for a few days:

  • Patriotic: Walking the National Mall wasn’t just exercise, it was a meaningful trip into our nation’s history, leaders, and heroes. Our students were excited about where our nation has been, and engaged in the process of where it is going in the future.
  • Empathetic: The Holocaust Museum was a deeply moving experience for our students. While I watched some student groups go through the museum at lightning speed, our group was extremely different. They read and listened about the history. They used their eyes to focus on the pictures and their sense of smell imprinted the spirit of those who lost their lives in concentration camps. They became teary and somber as Holocaust stories left a permanent scar on their hearts.
  • Kind: When you’re in a city that is bustling and busy, a quick smile or “hello” on the streets is virtually non-existent. What a ray of sunshine a small group of students from Loveland, Colorado were to a city that appeared a bit hardened. From strangers on the Metro, to tourists on the National Mall, to the cute, elderly concierge at the hotel; to hear others–strangers–tell our students how kind and friendly they are made my heart smile.
  • Philanthropic: When downloading what our students learned at the conference, one theme was obvious–our students have a heart for serving others. Whether it be their peers, the school staff, the Loveland community, or the world, our students first and foremost want to make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Spirited: On so many scales, our students are wise and mature beyond their years. Their creativity, drive, resiliency, and openness is inspiring and motivating. But…they are still “kids.” Thank, God!
    They are comfortable being silly, they laugh until it hurts. They still slide down banisters, run up escalators that are going down, start snowball fights, play with cheap toys, and have dance parties at 35,000 feet.
    This is why I love what I do. Why I love young people. And why I’m not worried about our future. I’m excited to see how young people like this, are gonna change the world. –C

White House