A total of 155 high school students from both public and private schools took part in the first Youth Takeover Day organized by the Youth Affairs Office last Thursday.
In celebration of Youth Empowerment Awareness Month, the students were given the opportunity to experience careers in public service, entrepreneurship, and community service.
A statement from the Office of the Governor quoted Shalaine Borja, Youth Affairs Office special assistant, said that it is vital for students to get real-life opportunities to assist in their growth and development.
One of Thursday’s mentors was Nutrition Assistance Program administrator Walter Macaranas, who taught his mentees the importance of all programs under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs.
“I’ve outlined the importance of the workers that are under DCCA and the people that we help,” he said.
Macaranas said that Youth Takeover Day helps students understand the careers that are available to them and what services are provided to the community. “It brings out all the things that we do, and we get to present it to the youth and it gives them an understanding of how the government operates,” he added.
Esther Lee and Arvin Dayao, the acting NAP administrators for the day, both said that the experience was educating.
“We got to learn about all the facilities [DCCA] handles like the arts, Child Protective Services, and the elderly,” said Dayao.
According to both Dayao and Lee, their one takeaway from the experience is the amount of work that the government puts into helping the community. “I didn’t really notice anything they did until now when I actually got to see it for myself,” said Dayao.
“What I liked the most is that they care,” said Lee.
The students that participated ranged from 9th to 12th grade. They came from Marianas High School, Mount Carmel School, Grace Christian Academy, Kagman High School, Saipan Southern High School, Tinian Jr./Sr. High School, and Marianas Baptist Academy.
Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), who was the acting governor at the time, said the day was a great opportunity for students and young people to take advantage of unique opportunities in a wide array of professions through mentorship by CNMI community leaders.
“My advice to our young people is to never back down from challenges. There are always going to be challenges in our lives, both personally and professionally. But it’s important that we prepare our students and young people to be the next generation of leaders. Solving challenges takes all of us—young and old. It’s important that our youth go out, get a college education, and give back to the community they love. As leaders, we will make sure they will be prepared to take on any challenge,” Palacios said.
Borja said this was the first Youth Takeover Day in the last 10 years and the office hopes to continue this program once a year.
It was a group effort of the Youth Affairs Office, the Youth Takeover Day Committee, government and private organizations, and the teachers and counselors of both private and public schools.
A total of 86 mentors committed to CNMI Youth Takeover Day, which took place the whole day of Thursday, from 8am to 4:30pm.