Brian Brown and Coryn Hendrix, high school juniors from Mohave High, began their summer with a life changing experience. In June, the students gathered with 1700 students from across the United States for the National Rural Electric Cooperative’s Annual Washington D.C. Youth Tour. For 24 years, Mohave Electric has sponsored the educational trip giving students an opportunity to see the nation’s capital up close and personal. By stepping out of their history books and into the bustling metropolis, students gain a better understanding of the government foundation that has served our nation for over 200 years. Brown and Hendrix were selected in the 2015 Youth Tour competition open to high school juniors whose parents/guardians are Mohave Electric members. Brown is the grandson of Gary and Martha Stanhope and Coryn is the daughter of Dana Hendrix.
Brown and Hendrix traveled to D.C. with 40 other students representing Arizona and California electric cooperatives. Hendrix said they made friends with everyone quickly because they all had something in common, “They had the same interests, mindsets and were all motivated. They all wanted to make something of themselves.”
Brown said being in D.C. opened up his world, “The culture is very different from Bullhead City. People were very welcoming – always smiling and always saying hello.” Brown added that he talked with a man from South Africa for an hour, “The diversity and history of people made everyone feel more connected – a melting pot that epitomizes that we are part of something whole – something bigger,” he said.
The fast paced, educational journey packed dozens of historical sites, museums, memorials and congressional visits into one short week. Arlington National Cemetery, the National Cathedral, Embassy Row, the USMC Museum, Smithsonian Museums, U.S. Capital, and several war memorials were among their many attractions.
The students agreed every encounter had an impact on them but said the Library of Congress was the most stunning, beautiful and ornate building in Washington D.C. Both were proud to show the library card they obtained from the largest library and oldest federal cultural institution in the world.
One of Hendrix’s favorite sites was the Jefferson Memorial. She described the “aura” inside the memorial as “huge,” not because of the 19’ bronze statue of Jefferson but because of his writings, “His writings really hit you – all his ideas were not just about American pride but for the pride of humanity.”
The students also described the Lincoln Memorial as “captivating and enthralling – larger than life.” Brown said that photos cannot convey the size of the statue and that it was “awe inspiring.” Hendrix said that it
is hard to believe he was a real person, “In theory, you know he was real but seeing the memorial makes you realize, he really was.”
“Arlington National Cemetery was the most reverent site,” said Hendrix. In addition to seeing the changing of the guard, Hendrix added, several of the students who had family members entombed there were able to visit their graves bringing the tragedy of war close to home.
The students agreed the Holocaust Museum is something everyone should experience at some point in their lives. Hendrix said it was “wildly humbling and heartbreaking.” Both articulated, “You almost don’t know how to process it? It’s hard to believe that it could really happen.”
Brown said the museums and memorials force you to embrace and understand what really happened in our history. He explained the Marine Corps Museum depicted how military technology has changed from the beginning of the Corps in 1775 to where it has advanced today. Brown emphasized the potential of airplanes that have the ability to drop bombs that could “wipe out every living organism” and stated that in today’s world, it’s important that, “We have to find a balance to do our best without having to do our worst.”
In addition to the attractions, on Youth Day, the Arizona and California delegates met up with hundreds of students from all over the U.S. They heard inspirational speakers, learned about the political process, expanded their knowledge about cooperatives, and created new friendships.
Brown said the experience made him realize that we are all a part of something “bigger” and definitely showed him that Washington D.C. is where he wants to go. After attending college, Brown plans on pursuing politics beginning with his return to his roots with his sights set on representing his constituents as District 4 Representative. But his ambitions don’t stop there. Brown intends on living in the White House with plans for the Presidency in 2036. “I loved the trip and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to expand my horizons,” he said.
Hendrix also expressed her liking for the fast paced surroundings of D.C. and said she is more certain now of where she wants to be. Hendrix plans on studying law and eventually becoming a judge. She said the opportunity was priceless and a turning point she will remember for the rest of her life.
The Mohave-sponsored contest is held annually and open to area high school juniors whose parents/guardians are members of Mohave Electric Cooperative. Applications for the June 2016 Youth Tour competition will be available September 8, 2015. For more information visit: www.mohaveelectric.com, click on Community, then Washington D.C. Youth Tour or call Lori Fonzi at (928) 763-4115. The Washington D.C. Youth Tour is funded with unclaimed capital credits at no expense to the cooperative.