Fresh Perspectives from a Virtual Youth Tour
Even a small choice can have an enormous impact tomorrowBy Sydney Loflin
When my mom asked me about attending the 2021 NC Youth Tour, my first thought was “Please, not another virtual event.” I had heard amazing things about the tour, but I was skeptical about that level of excellence being reflected in a virtual program. After a bit of thought, I decided to apply, and I was accepted to represent my electric co-op, EnergyUnited.
As I sat down in front of my computer for the first day, I nervously logged on to the meeting, preparing myself for another grueling few hours in front of a screen. I had no idea what incredible things that week had in store for me.
When I entered the meeting, I was shocked. Cameras were on, students were smiling, and people were having real conversations. This was very different from other virtual programs I had attended in the past.
Paul Mott, the Youth Tour coordinator with North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, started speaking to us, and we all shared fun facts about ourselves. I found out that Mehreen had ridden an elephant, Abbi had her pilot’s license, Ashley trained service dogs, and Forrester had a love of environmental science like I did! As I looked at my screen, I didn’t see students: I saw motivated individuals who inspired me to become the best version of myself. Every day after we finished our planned activities, we stayed on after just to chat and learn more about each other.
“I realized I didn’t need to have a roadmap for my life; I just needed the courage to take the next step.”
Meeting with our Congressional representatives was a highlight of the week. I expected them to be very serious and perfectly polished, but this was not the case. Each of them shared their own journey to their current job, and it fascinated me how their goals and aspirations changed as they went through life. As a high schooler, I am constantly asked questions like “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or “What are your plans for the next 10 years?” Speaking with our representatives changed my perspective. I realized I didn’t need to have a roadmap for my life; I just needed the courage to take the next step.
While meeting with representatives and learning about electric cooperatives was an incredible experience, my greatest takeaway from the week was this: We don’t have to wait to start living our lives or achieving our dreams.
Oftentimes, I wait until the perfect time or circumstances to approach one of my goals. If there is one thing the pandemic has taught me, it’s that our days on this earth are numbered, and we should take advantage of any opportunity we have. Maybe that is declaring a major when you are unsure of what you want to do, overcoming a fear that has held you back, or deciding to apply for a virtual event — even if you’re “all Zoomed out.” Making a small choice today can have an enormous impact tomorrow.
I am grateful for the NC Youth Tour because of the people I met, all I learned, and because it gave me a fresh outlook on my future.
About the AuthorSydney Loflin grew up in Denton and was selected by her fellow Youth Tourists as North Carolina’s 2021 Youth Leadership Council (YLC) representative. She is dual enrolled in HOPE Academy and Davidson County Community College.
Youth Tour impact