Stater Becomes a Citizen – Historian Project

By: Hunter Parks, Jake Inthavongsa, Christian Eckhardt, Wallace Wilkins III, William Mahr, Edward Olander

Early Life 

Santiago Giraldo is currently a Boy Stater for the year of 2019 and is a citizen of the town of Valley Forge, recently obtained his Citizenship on June 4th, 2019. Santiago was originally born in Medellin, Columbia. He moved to America in 2011 when he was ten years old with his family in order to pursue a new life. He ended up moving to Cambridge, Nebraska. His family moved to Cambridge because it was a smaller town and they wanted a more peaceful life. He had to adjust to the smaller town since his old town Medellin has a population of over a million while his new town has a lesser population of 2000.

Road to Citizenship

Santiago had to be in the United States for 5 years and be eighteen years old in order to be able to formally begin the process of becoming a citizen of the United States. On February 4th, 2019 he officially began his journey to citizenship. The process first began by sending in an application (with a lot of paperwork) with nine-hundred dollars. He then had to wait for his application to either be approved or denied. Thankfully his application was accepted and he moved to the next step to citizenship. He had to be scheduled for an appointment in order for his biometrics to be recorded and checked. He then waited  until he got a reminder for his citizenship test, which would occur on June 4th, 2019. Santiago was nervous at first, thinking about his test since his hometown of Cambridge is four hours away from the Embassy in Omaha, where he had to take the citizenship test. Luckily he had plans to go to Boys’ state which would move him to Lincoln during the week of the test. He was able to go to the citizenship test during Boys’ state. The citizenship test includes a written portion which is a 10 question test. To pass you only need to get 6 questions right along with a written and oral exam to test how much you understand the english language. Santiago passed the test with flying colors and only had one step left in order to become a citizen. The Ceremony.

Citizenship and Boys’ state

A ceremony for citizenship typically is held a different day than the citizenship test but Santiago was lucky and the ceremony was held on the same day of the test. The ceremony started with the pledge of allegiance. Santiago had to wait in a line that was slowly called up in order to gain his documents of citizenship. He felt anxious but was very excited. When he got called up he was ecstatic.  Once he received his documents he was extremely overjoyed that he was now officially considered a citizen of the United States of America. Once he returned to Boys’ state he was congratulated and welcomed back by many Boy Staters and counselors with open arms, seen as a fellow citizen of the greatest country in the world.

Debate and Campaigning

The third day of Cornhusker Boys’ State was full of spirited political debate, campaigning, and voting.  We capped off the day with a trip to the Nebraska National Guard base.  The day began with our two political parties, the nationalists and federalists, debating planks in their newly formed party platform. Next, candidates campaigned for various state and county offices. Later that afternoon, a primary election was held. In the evening, the delegates toured the National Guard Base in Lincoln.

Let the Fun Begin

The 79th annual session of American Legion Cornhusker Boys’ State is underway.  Towns are getting to know one another and starting to have some serious fun!  Today, Sen. Suzanne Geist visited the delegates elected to the Boys State Unicameral Legislature. This afternoon was also the first games for the town’s sports teams.  We finished the evening with an incredibly motivating message from Dr. Jo!

 

Alumni Impact

Ben Blumenthal, Nobel Rai, and Nathan Franz

Boys State is a truly unique experience where one week can change a lifetime. While hundreds of go-getters are admitted each year, some Cornhusker Boys State alumni have proven themselves to be especially remarkable, including Riley Knust, Alec Wiese, and Ben Sasse.

    Riley Knust, was the 2017 Cornhusker Boys’ State governor. Going into the elections Riley already had prior campaigning experience, was part of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) at his school, and knew tons of people going into the week, all of which he feels gave him a leg up. However it wasn’t all easy sailing for him, Riley experienced some struggles on his path to governor. During some question and answer sessions, Riley says he had a lot of dumb answers and a lot of “I don’t knows”. However he was able to learn from these failures and was able to run a successful campaign for governor. At the end of the day Riley said he just tried to be himself, and tried to be as genuine as possible. Riley is now considering a career in politics, has a newfound respect for public officials, and made some long lasting friends, all because of his week at Cornhusker Boys’ State.

    Alec Wiese attended Boys State in 2010. While there, he ran for the office of Lieutenant Governor. While he didn’t get the role, he still got involved and was able to learn many lessons from his experience. During Boys State, Wiese got out of his shell and learned the importance of risk-taking. He made many friends at Boys State and to this day, maintains relationships with some of the people he met. One piece of advice he would give to high school students our age is that you have to be able to find a good balance in life, and that you have to learn how to keep that balance in order to make it through high school and college. Today, Alec has started his own company and says the idea for his company was born out of speculation as to what kind of meat was in the twenty-five cent tacos he was enjoying with a friend. The friend said it was probably bug meat, and that’s what led to the idea to put insect protein into the foods we eat. Alec’s goal for Bugeater Foods is to help feed the world’s growing population with a sustainable source of food and expects the company to start reaching into developing countries that are in need of a better food source.

One of the most well-known Cornhusker Boys’ State alumni is the current junior Senator for Nebraska, Ben Sasse. Sasse was governor of Boys’ State in 1989, and he learned here that it is important to be able to learn from the wisdom of qualified adults and apply that knowledge to our daily lives. Like Alec Wiese, one of the Senator’s favorite parts of the program was making lifelong friends, some of which he still keeps up with to this day. He attended Boys’ Nation afterward, and there he met many high achievers that drove him to better himself. The lives of all three of these men have been shaped positively by the experience Boys’ State has provided them. It is truly “ a week to shape a lifetime”.

Boys State Variations

by: Matthew Wachtel

There are forty-nine different Boys State programs across the country that gather annually to educate rising seniors about their local and state governments. Each Boys State offers unique daily activities and hosts differing numbers of delegates. I interviewed Ben Lipson, from New Hampshire, and Yosua Siguan, from North Carolina, both of whom were Boys’ Staters in 2017 to learn about their experiences and compare it to my own.

First, a few similarities between the three. Cornhusker and New Hampshire Boys State both send their delegates to their state capitol building at the end of the week. North Carolina and Cornhusker Boys State have town, county and state elections. North Carolina and Cornhusker Boys State both have at least one sport. All three have newspapers to depict daily events. Beyond the daily activities of these Boys State programs, one major similarity between all three, that both Yosua Siguan and Ben Lipson touched on, is the massive gaining of knowledge and experience in the realm of politics and leadership. I, myself, can relate to this sentiment as Cornhusker Boys State has taught me a great deal about Nebraska issues and what form of leadership best fits my personality.

Next, the differences between the three. Cornhusker Boys State is actually the last state that holds joint sessions with its American Legion Auxiliary counterpart, Cornhusker Girls State. Also Cornhusker Boys State has four sports whereas North Carolina has just basketball and then New Hampshire has none. New Hampshire has 78 delegates attend, North Carolina has 250 and Cornhusker Boys State has 450. North Carolina Boys State has a speech contest. Additionally, before attending North Carolina Boys State you have to write a bill whereas at Cornhusker and New Hampshire Boys State you write bills when you get there. At New Hampshire’s program one big job of the executive office after they are elected is to pass a budget whereas North Carolina and Cornhusker Boys’ State both don’t pass a budget. The North Carolina session bills pass through a house and senate legislature then it must be approved by the governor and his cabinet. This is in contrast to the Cornhusker Boys State unicameral system.

Boys State programs differ throughout the country. In my interviews I learned that while they all might be different in certain aspects and the same in others they are all unique. The American Legion continues to politically socialize the youth of America and through their Boys State programs, young men from around the country can attest to the success of this mission.

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