BY: CHRISTIAN VILLARREAL
On December 7, 2017, the Rio Grande Valley Texas Chapter held an event at Vela Middle School in Harlingen Texas. Chapter members visited the middle school to discuss the mission and values of Next Generation Politics with students and to run a workshop on how to properly, and holistically, learn about “the issues.”
Gonzalez, one of the NGP members in attendance, explained to the 7th and 8th graders that, “we’re not here to let people rant about their beliefs if they’re going to be offensive to others, but we won’t censor every bit of information people aren’t comfortable with. We seek to know every side to every story before we make our decisions, so we have to look at every point of view, just not the ones that intentionally seek to put someone down… if that makes any sense.”
After that, NGP members ran a workshop with the students on how to properly research when educating themselves on the issues. Ringheanu, one of the members running the workshop, explained that, “if you want to express your views and make an impact, you’re going to have to have enough information. Yes, dates and names can get boring, but you gotta know what you’re talking about before you stand up in front of a bunch of people and say random stuff. The most important thing is figuring out what a good article or source is. When you’re dealing with foreign affairs make sure that they article doesn’t take a firm stance like “China is Bad! They will always be bad!” Be sure to look for things that are just trying to explain a situation like “Could the Chihuahua become the most popular dog in the world?.” The next thing to consider is who’s writing your articles. You need to be able to trust the person writing them so try to stay away from any article under 300 words, and stay away from biased sources. I’m not trying to bash on certain groups, because everyone is biased at times, but this goes back to making sure you read and listen to both sides.”
The event concluded with the chapter leaders providing suggestions to students on how to engage in their community. The NGP Chapter suggested volunteering for Loaves & Fishes and other service groups, attending some city council meetings as they get older, and at one point joining their local Youth Advisory Board. The meeting had a total of 17 middle school students who all said they look forward to joining NGP once they came come to the high school.