Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) opened the three-day Close Up Youth Summit at the Kanoa Resort last Tuesday.
He told the 80-some high school students gathered there that the choices they make as they grow into adulthood would not only determine the kind of life they would have. “The choices you are making will affect the lives of everyone around you, too,” he said.
During the summit, students learn about how laws are made in the Commonwealth Legislature. They research specific issues they believe to be important to the community. And they conclude by presenting policy proposals to address those concerns.
“Close Up does a great job of raising awareness about the importance of civic participation,” Sablan said. “This year in Congress we appropriated $900,000 for the program in the insular areas. I think that is a very worthwhile investment.”
The money pays for the summit event. It also makes it possible for a group of about 20 Marianas students to visit the U.S. mainland for two weeks, including time in Washington, D.C. learning about Congress first-hand.
“In fact, I met some of the students, who visited their congressional office this spring, at the summit today,” Sablan said.
Close Up funding is never a slam dunk. In fiscal 2017, the Obama administration tried to make Close Up compete for its annual grant against other programs. Congress pushed back, emphasizing the importance of civic education in the insular areas, and kept the funds intact.
“But the money that Congress appropriates to make Close Up possible would mean nothing, if not for you,” Sablan reminded the students. “The money rents this hall. You fill it. With your energy and enthusiasm and—I hope—with great ideas.”
Sablan thanked the young people for giving their time to attend the summit and for working to find ways to improve their community. (PR)