Intro to "Close Up" Program for Teens

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AN INTRODUCTION TO "CLOSE UP" - A Program for Teenagers By: Marisa Singer Recently I have had the privilege of being able to go to the nation's capital, and see politics up close and personal. It is from this experience that the organization which took me derives its name; "Close Up." Known nationwide, it is a non-profit organization devoted to showing high school students a more intense side of Washington, instead of five-minute blips on the news. Students room in a hotel along with participants from all over the country. In my case, there were students from Louisiana, Rhode Island, Michigan, and California. It's a fabulous opportunity to meet new people, and also to hear personal viewpoints, rather than sweeping generalizations about a certain state or area. From there, Close Up has you moving and thinking all day, everyday. Seminars are conducted by associated professionals on topics such as domestic issues, international affairs, the budget crisis, gun control, homelessness, the Constitution, presidential powers, terrorism, the media, Proposition 187, North Korea and the threat of nuclear war, and many others. Seminars could be better called "discussions," for that is what they really are. Students propel the direction conversation flows. Raising your hand, and officially stating your name and home state, for one minute it's your turn to ask a question which may have been irritating you, or maybe you just had a fleeting thought. Either way, here is a chance to actually deal with politics: by finding out more about it. This is an opportunity which few teenagers will have, unfortunately, so taking advantage of it is a must. At some point in the week you may even meet a senator or representative from your state, and that, I will tell you, produces great political food for thought. To hear straight from the mouth of your elected official what s/he believes in really shoves politics in your face. Close Up is a trip, as my program instructor said, which "will give back as much as you put into it." By constantly forcing you to reassess your own beliefs because of new information being presented, this week turns out to be filled with much mental activity. If you're not debating a "touched-up" Second Amendment, or figuring out what should be done about the collapsing peso in Mexico, or if the media truly dictates public opinion, or if welfare should be reformed, or what sections of spending need to be cut in order to mend the deficit. These are issues which not only adults think about, as some people may presume. The youth of today is confronted with some difficult crises, many of which are born in Washington D.C. Close Up offers a vehicle to explore and investigate our government, which is seemingly inaccessible, but amazingly becomes something intriguing as soon as you see those towering white columns on the building which we call the White House. Talk to your school counselors about becoming involved in this program.

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