Saturday, February 24, 2007

I missed the 3rd Public Forum & the Youth Summit...

I missed the 3rd public forum. I was planning to go, but my mom decided to drag me along to the Ash Wednesday mass. No complaints here though, 'cause I am a pretty religious person.

I also missed the Youth Summit. Now, that was something that I really wanted to go to. In fact, I was supposed to go. According to my friend, Rachel Reyes, who is the Marianas High School representative for the Youth Congress, the presidents and vice presidents of our school's organizations were supposed to be our school's representatives at the Youth Summit this year. However, Juan Pinaula, Leangie Sablan, and Mark Nuique apparently had something else in mind.

Instead of Juanette and I going to the youth summit (since we're Student Council President and Vice President), a single group of friends attended. I was furious when I saw the list of people who were excused to go the Youth Summit, because pretty much all the names on that list were the names of students who could care less about what had to be discussed at the Youth Summit. Those students went just to skip two days of school, and after it ended, they probably didn't retain any of the information.

This really irks me because I could have gone and actually learned some valuable things, but because as usual, my peers put their social lives before business, I was not selected to attend. I know Juanette really wanted to go, too. She looked kind of disappointed when I was talking to her about the Youth Summit on Thursday.

I'm starting to believe that what Tina Sablan said is true--that too much money is wasted on the Youth Congress. Why do I believe this, you ask? Because the Youth Congress elections are just another popularity contest (most elections involving teenagers are), and many of the people who run (or in many cases, those who actually win) are just looking for "another thing that looks good on college apps." These are people that we do NOT need in Youth Congress. These people get paid for sitting on their asses doing nothing! I ran for Youth Congress last year but I unfortunately lost to a write-in candidate.

This is yet another flaw of the Youth Congress election process. Write-in candidates should not even exist. The whole option of being a write-in candidate makes actually filling out the application for candidacy a waste of time. I mean, if you can sign up as a candidate at the very last minute, then what's the use of taking the time to fill out an application and get 50 signatures? Also, this whole system of write-in candidates allows for complete "nobodies" to run, giving people who are only interested in self-improvement and development a chance to win the election.

I know that previous Youth Congresses have done a great job, and they have implemented many programs that help our community. However, I cannot say the same about this year's Youth Congress. Now, I'm not saying that everyone in this year's Youth Congress is useless; what I'm saying is that many of them ran just for the sake of running. We need more people who actually care about the youth and our community to run for Youth Congress next year. We need people who actually want something to happen. If more people who actually had a dream for the CNMI and a way to make that dream a reality ran for Youth Congress and won, the Youth Congress would improve 100%. We need change.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Public Forum #2

So I went to the public forum today at San Vicente School. I enjoyed it and I learned a lot from it. Many topics were discussed, and I didn't quite know what they were talking about a lot of the time. However, it was a great learning experience. Thank you, Tina Sablan for organizing the forums.

I had one concern, however. The one thing that really bothered me was the fact that I was the only high school student present. I expected there to be a better turnout of youth members of the community. Once again, however, my fellow teenagers have failed me. I really expected more high school students to be there. I mean, we're supposed to be the future of the CNMI. You'd think that we'd be more interested in the things that are happening around us.

I expected at least the Youth Congress to be there. I understand that we are students, and we have homework and tests to study for, but I think we should be able to make time for things like this. I mean, we're only talking about our future here. Youth Congress is supposed to be filled with youth leaders. Their being in a leadership position should mean that they are interested in the well-being of the Commonwealth. However, I fail to see any truth in this. I agree in part with Roselle Calvo's defense of the Youth Congress. However, I also agree in part with Tina Sablan's "attack" on the Youth Congress. My personal opinion is that the Youth Congress is a great idea, it's just that the (current) people who were elected into office are not doing their part to make things work.

But enough about the Youth Congress. I want to go back to the youth in general. I truly am disappointed in the youth for not being concerned enough to attend the forums. I am further disappointed in the youth's general attitude of "this island sucks" and "there is no hope left for the CNMI." How can you expect the CNMI to get any better if you have already given up on it before trying to save it? If we all move off this island, who will be left to save it? You've got to get out of the "I can't wait to get off this island" mentality and start thinking about how you can give back to the community and help things improve.

We owe everything to the CNMI. Yes, things aren't perfect here. This is far from heaven. But we should be happy that we had a place to grow up in. We had a place that provided us with an education. We had a place that was connected with the rest of the world, despite being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Yes, we can say that we lacked many things while growing up, but think about this: the CNMI has a land mass of 184 square miles but it still has enough resources to sustain a population of about 80,000, while Africa, which covers about 6% of the Earth's total surface area, does not have the supplies and resources it needs ti sustain its population of 900,000,000. If anything, shouldn't we be grateful for this?

I encourage all of my fellow teenagers to start paying attention to things that happen on this island. You have ignored the important issues that this island faces for far too long. The period in which we get to ignore the things happening around us ended a long time ago. We are in our late teens, almost ready to go out in the world, and yet we still don't know anything about the things that happen around us. It's time to wake up, youth of the CNMI. The CNMI needs change, and this starts with us. We are the future of the CNMI. I encourage all of you to attend the next public forum two weeks from now.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The List

Bruce Bateman wrote in the Saipan Tribune's opinion section today. I think you should all read it. Check out his article here.

About that list....I think it's pretty useless. If anything, it makes us look bad. I say it was their last minute attempt at saving themselves. We all know that the hearings that will decide the fate of the Commonwealth are about to begin in the U.S. Congress. They're supposed to present a number of things, and one of them is labor and immigration. This list was their attempt to show Congress that we could handle our own labor and immigration. Apparently, we can't. The list was apparently inaccurate. In addition to being inaccurate, this list of theirs was in no particular order. You'd think that if they really wanted to get rid of the problem there would have been a better list available. Also, if they really wanted to fix the problem, why did they only come up with the list now?