The World as One   
The United,   
The Shared,   
and for the Better...
By Cindy S. Cho   
CommApp ID: 15975283
Bellevue Senior High School, Bellevue, WA
Activities & Awards:
JSA Summer School
This past July, I spent a month at Georgetown University to study International Relations with the Junior Statesman of America Foundation. I was thrilled to be accepted because this program would give me a college experience in the major that I wanted to pursue. Along with having classes 6 days a week, I was able to visit places like the state department, the white house, and several embassies to listen to speakers with the careers that I yearn to have. With two final exams and term papers to complete, I experienced what my future workload would consist of. Most significantly, I was able to thrive in an environment where students surrounded me with similar interests to mine. I truly enjoyed each class because I was engaged in conversations with people of my age about subjects that I was passionate about. It was also refreshing to become close with professor Davis and converse more about international relations from an expert instead of merely reading books about it at home. This experience validated my interests. At my high school, we do not have any history courses that focus on international relations, so I found myself particularly absorbed in the parts in my U.S. and World History classes that would discuss foreign relations. Taking an extensive class revolved around only international relations confirmed my curiosities. JSA summer school made me realize that I want to work in a career related to the government- with foreign service, law, or public policy.
Civil Rights Pilgrimage
Later that August, I spent a week in the deep south with my civil rights activist group to learn more and enact change about racial prejudice, thanks to the 21Progress organization. We took a plane and first landed in Tennessee, then bussed around to Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. We visited several HBCU institutions like Fisk University, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Selma Interpretive Center, just to name a few. I was surprised to meet so many people who were the actual figures involved in the civil rights movement in the 1950s-1960s. I spent hours and was able to have conversations with freedom rider Ernest Rip Patton, activist Bernard Lafayette, and 'Bloody Tuesday' survivor Maxie Thomas. It was the first time that I heard of extremely graphic, first-hand accounts of discrimination, and how they still face harsh implicit injustices in their daily lives. At the start of this school year, I was able to join in on my school's faculty meetings to discuss how to effectively introduce topics like racism in schools. I went on this trip with two teachers at my school who are passionately involved in social justice, so they propelled me to spread my experience to my peers and instructors. Even though the students were aware of topics extensively covered by textbooks such as the civil rights movement and the origins of slavery, most were oblivious to current issues like institutionalized privilege and modern day slavery.
Voices of Democracy
During my sophomore year of high school, I decided to submit an audio-essay for what seemed like a simple essay competition about democracy. But 2 years later the people I've met and the experiences I was able to have because of this competition transformed me. This program was established in 1947 and provides students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express their ideas of democratic ideas and principles. The first year I recited about why veterans are important to our history, and the second year I competed with the topic 'My Vision for America'. Because Voices of Democracy was created by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, I went to different VFW posts to recite my speech and have discussions with members of the VFW and the VFW Ladies Auxiliary. I developed relationships with these influential people who supported me and encouraged me to express my beliefs about my country. The past two years being involved in this organization most importantly exposed me to the veteran community from the Vietnam, Korean, and World War II, along with all the injustices they faced and still do face. From the 2008 passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century they long fought for to the improving of medical centers services for women veterans, members of the VFW not only improved the lives of those currently serving and veterans, but also has gone further to support students' education.
School Clubs:
At school, I found clubs that perfectly aligned with my interests like Mock Trial and Model UN - but when I wasn't completely satisfied, I decided to create some of my own. At the start of my junior year, I realized that most of my peers around me didn't know that they could receive scholarships through writing competitions. I started doing essay contests during my freshman year, but I only found out about them through deeply searching the internet. I teamed up with a friend who was also in my school newspaper with me and created Writing Club. In my club, many students who had a passion for writing joined together to read each other's work and gain advice while also submitting to different scholarship competitions that we let each other know of.
Also in the same year, I found out that many students had the same political interests as me. My school already had a Young Democrats and Young Republicans Club, but we lacked a club that represented a third party. Even if I'm not completely consolidated in a certain political party as a young teenager, I still wanted people and myself to explore their options and learn more about third parties by starting the Young Libertarians Club because most students at my school are so accustomed to the two party system. Before I become 18 and am able to vote, I wanted to become as educated as possible so that I can make informed decisions as a voting citizen.
  With new friends from Pennsylvania and New Hampshire
  at JSA Summer School
  At Mock Trial Competition
  Receiving my JSA Summer School diploma for
  Honor International Relations
  Attorney team at Mock Trial District Competition
  With Bernard Lafayette in Selma, Alabama
  With a district commander for the VFW at a celebration
At a Voices of Democracy Competition award ceremony