Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's Over

Yesterday was possibly the saddest day of my life. No one is ever good at saying goodbye, but on Saturday, barely anyone could get the words out.
When I woke up, I just had a heavy feeling in my stomach that wouldn't go away. Packing up the room was really hard, not just because Annie and I had a lot of stuff, but because our room had basically become home. That morning was a mess, since our house parents had to check each room to make sure everything was gone and we hadn't forgotten everything.
After putting our suitcases in our study hall room, Annie and I went to Starbucks one last time, getting our usuals. We were stalling, since we wanted to spend as much time as possible in the hotel. Then, we walked, for the last time as Senate Pages, to the Capitol. I filmed the walk, since even though the walk was only about ten minutes, we had made a lot of good memories on that walk alone.
We didn't go to our usual page room, but Senate Room A, a place where committees take place, and also the room where I had my first committee. Some people were already crying, and the whole morning had a sad/happy feeling to it.
I'll admit, I cried about 3 times, even before graduation had started.
Then graduation came, and next thing I know, it's all over.
Mrs. Schaar, the Clerk of the Senate, gave us a nice departing speech which brought my friend and I to tears, and then while Senator Obenshain read the resolution we all came up with, be laughed so hard our tears were forgotten. Our parents were up in the gallery, watching and filming the moments, and just by their faces, they looked like the proudest parents on earth.
After graduation, we all headed back to Senate Room A so our parents could pick us up. That's where the tears started. I didn't want to leave, over the past 7 weeks, all the kids that I had met had become an important part of my life.
I don't know how to describe the page program. All I can say is it truly changed my life and I will never forget it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Capitol

I Can See the Finish Line

You know how when you start something awesome, and all you can think about how everything is going to be but you never think it's going to end until the moment you're saying goodbye? That's how this week feels. I mean it's only Wednesday and our final day is Saturday, but that isn't a long time. It feels like just yesterday I was sitting in the Senate Chamber with complete strangers and now we're all like a family. Sure we aren't perfect, and at times we don't want to be around each other, but in the end, we all care about each other. When I got the acceptance letter for the Page Program, all I could think about was what would my roommate be like, would I like the Page Program, what would the people be like, what would it be like having all these rules and so on, and so on. Well, my roommate is amazing, on a bad day she can make me smile and I know she's always there for me, the Page Program is the best thing in the world. I will never forget what it has been like to be here. Everyone in the program and all the staff I have met are wonderful. I've made so many new friends that it makes saying goodbye even harder, and as for all the grownups that have patiently shown us how to do each job; I will never be able to thank them enough. All the Senators I have met have been nothing but nice and welcoming. They make you feel right at home. As for the rules, I've learned that even though you make think they're pointless, rules are created to keep you safe. 
Monday night we had a mock session, where we got to pretend to be senators and have the senators act as our pages. That was really fun, I even got to talk! (Secretly, I just wanted to use the microphone) Tuesday night we went to VCU and cheered on the Senate as they played against The House in a basketball game to raise awareness for cancer. Although the Senate didn't win, it was still fun to cheer everyone on. Tonight all House and Senate pages went to the Governors mansion for dinner and dessert. Not only did we get to mingle with each other, but we all got to take a picture with the governor! 
When you say you're going somewhere for seven weeks, that sounds like a long time, but I feel like it was just a second ago I was at orientation. Richmond has become a home away from home for me. I'm going to miss the simple things, like the walk to work and familiar faces, to getting to go to Starbucks every morning and having the people at the Capitol cafeteria knowing exactly what I want for lunch. As much as I want to come home and go back to normal life, if I was given the choice to stay here in Richmond I'd stay here in a heart beat. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Page Pounds

Most people have heard of the freshmen fifteen right? Most kids say that they'll eat healthfully, but they don't realize how hard it is to actually do that. I'll admit, I'm one of those kids, and now I know how easy it is to just eat whatever you want. Here in Richmond, we don't have grown ups to tell us to eat vegetables and fruit, basically, they just don't want us to go hungry. Basically, one of the things that we watch is how much money we spend on food, since everyone wants to save up their money. I'm not saying all we eat is junk food, there are kids who eat salads here everyday, I eat a turkey sand which on whole wheat everyday, but I'm saying it's easy to slip in to a pattern of eating nothing but chips and soda. In the meeting room, where we can all hang out after work and study hall, there are snacks we can buy for twenty five cents. You can get as many snacks as you want, just make sure you pay. All in all, I'm learning that as much as going out to eat at a restaurant every night sounds fun, you still have to be a little careful about what you eat.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Typical Day

A typical day in Richmond goes something like this:
Wake up around 6:45
Go to breakfast (most people go to Starbucks for coffee) and then the Capitol (our page room is actually in the General Assembly Building but we say Capitol anyways)
We go to the Page room, we have to be there by 8:15 and then around 8:15 we have roll call. Basically during roll call our supervisors make sure we don't have any dust on our blazers and we look presentable.
Then we wait to either be assigned a job, or we report to the jobs that were on our schedule. For example, if I have to work the third floor reception desk at 2:30, I'll wait in the Page room, run errands, eat lunch and then go do my job. People also have floor duty, which is where we sit in the Senate Chamber while the Senators are in session, and we'll get them lunch and run errands for them
At 5 we go back to the hotel.
From 5-7 we have dinner. Most people go to Wendy's because it's fast and cheap, but we also go the Trevis which is the restaurant in the hotel, Kobe's a japanese steak house, or Pe King's which is a Chinese restaurant.
7-9 is study hall. We have tutors and we're allowed to use our computers (that rhymed!) and we're responsible for getting our work done.
9-10:30 we can hang out in the meeting room, which is basically a hotel room with snacks that are all 25 cents, and everyone can just chill out. Boys and girls can be in the meeting room at the same time, and our house parents check on us often.
At 10:30 we have to be in our rooms, our house parents tape our doors so they'll know if we snuck out, and we can pretty much go to bed whenever we want.
I’m not good at blogging. Sorry, but just to fill you in, I’ve been in Richmond for three weeks now. Besides accidentally hanging up on someone over the phone, and calling Support Services Social Services, I’m doing really well. I never thought working could be so much fun. 
On Monday, the 24th guess who came to the Capitol? Tiki Barber. Yeah, that’s right. Tiki Barber, retired running back for the New York Giants. Guess who got to shake his hand and lead him in to the chamber? I did! Along with Tiki, were other gentlemen who were being inducted in to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. That was easily the highlight of my day.
We got to go to the Library of Virginia, and we all got to hold a dictionary used by Patrick Henry, and see General Cornwallis’ surrender letter to George Washington.
Also, when people see us pages walking around, the often do double takes. Probably because most people aren’t used to seeing thirteen and fourteen year olds dressed neatly and be very polite, but we’re still kids. We still like to make jokes, we get in trouble (but now we’re really good at following the rules), we can be rowdy when we’re supposed to be quiet and we still need that extra push to do something. Just because we wear uniforms and are actually working, doesn’t mean we’re not like ordinary teenagers.
Oh yeah, just because I’m away from school, doesn’t mean I’m free from homework. We have a two hour study hall each night with tutors incase we need help. I can’t slack off in my work. I’m responsible for getting my assignments to my teachers just like you are. 
I can’t believe I only have four more weeks here. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in the Senate chamber for orientation, shaking with nervousness and excitement. I’m going to enjoy every minute of everyday. Since good things are worth enjoying. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 1

Sunday was one of the most nerve wracking days of my life. From the time I woke up, from the time my mom and I were in the car on the way to the Capitol, my hands could not stop shaking and my stomach kept on coming up to my throat and plummeting back down without warning. We had to dress casually and formal at the same time, and if you know me really well, I don’t do formal. I did look nice though, I didn’t wear Converse, I wore flats and instead of a t-shirt, I was wearing a nice sweater and silk black top. All the Senate Pages were in the Chamber and when my mom and I walked in, there were already about twenty kids with their parents sitting around the room. I had no idea where I was supposed to sit, so I chose a chair at the front, and I’ll admit, I didn’t even look at the boy sitting right next to me. We went over rules for what seemed like an hour and a half. There are so many rules, I’m scared I’m going to break one without knowing it. After we went over the rules, we had to stand up and introduce ourselves when they called our names, and that’s how I found out who my room mate was, but I’ll talk about her later. After the introduction we went down to some separate rooms to have lunch. Annie’s family and mine sat together and we got to know each other. We both like food so we get along fine. Everyone went on a tour of the capitol and general Assembly building, and before I knew it, everyone is going back to the hotel and my mom is hugging me goodbye. Back at the hotel we all met our house parents, Mr. and Mrs. Snow. They’re very nice and make sure we follow the rules. The first night we had to go over rules for the hotel and work, which took a long time but oh well. That night we all ordered pizza and introduced ourselves without the grown ups help. The first night was hard. I was in a new place with someone I barely knew who was nice, but it was still awkward. However, I'm still really excited about working as a Senate Page.