Senators of the 14th CNMI Youth Congress held their annual summit on Friday in the House of Representatives chamber on Capital Hill. A total of 20 students from both public and private high schools on Saipan participated in the seven-hour summit that saw presentations by community officials and the youth senators themselves.
According to Youth Summit chair and Tinian High School representative Kyle Sandbergen, the Youth Congress began planning Friday’s event several months ago. Sandbergen wished more students attended the summit but thinks that an “important message was voiced out.”
Edwig Hofschneider, who represented the College Access Challenge Grant, told students that the program’s purpose is to promote the value of higher education and prepare disadvantaged, native Pacific islanders to enroll, remain, and succeed in college.
Maise Tenorio of the CNMI Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence educated participants about the different types of sexual assaults and harassment. Her message to the youth: “You are the boss of your own body. Decide what to do with it. Do not be afraid to seek guidance if anyone violates your personal boundaries.”
In a presentation called “College 101,” Rota youth senator Mona Manglona and Sandbergen recounted their personal experiences and successes in preparing and applying for college and passing the SAT.
Marianas High School senator Maria Dizon and fellow youth senator and Marianas Baptist Academy representative Kanata Omori had the students talking about the pros and cons of today’s technologically advanced world and social networking. Their presentation, called “Social NOT-working,” had the student’s debating whether or not social media has a negative or positive effect in people’s lives.
Mount Carmel School youth senator Thomas Manglona II presented “Teen Truth: Bullying,” a program focused on why bullying takes place in schools and what students can do to be the difference.
Dizon believes the group educated a majority of the participants on a wide range of topics. She recognized that although the summit only garnered 20 participants out of the 100 that were invited, it came to their advantage. “It was a blessing in disguise because we really got to have some one-on-one interaction and got to the students,” she said.
One Marianas High School participant, junior Russell Javan, said that taking part in the summit helped her learn more about college and bullying. “We can hopefully decrease bullying offline and online as well as get more students into college. These issues happen at my school all the time. I am going to tell them to stop. I do not want bullying to be around anymore.”
Mount Carmel School sophomore Lance Deleon Guerrero expressed similar sentiments. “I think it is really awesome about the different topics the presenters gave. I feel like all the information was helpful and I will use all of the information later on in life. “
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero and other representatives visited the summit and thanked the students for coming together and illuminating current issues and hot topics in the CNMI.
Members of the CNMI Youth Congress are allotted a $1,000 budget to sponsor the summit every year.