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A Welcome Surprise

by Parker Watson
Camp Sea Gull and Seafarer YMCA

As this year’s delegates poured into the Welcome Session Thursday night, none suspected they would hear Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s governor, speak to them about the importance of Youth and Government.

Cooper was introduced to the crowd by Youth and Government’s own Governor, John Bailey, and was welcomed to the stage by the resounding applause of many surprised delegates. As Cooper began to speak, it became clear that he had a lot to say about the government of today, and Y&G’s part in it.

“I want us to live in a state that, one day, you will want to live in, and one day you will govern. There is no doubt in my mind that there are many of those students right in this room,” said Cooper.

Cooper is an experienced North Carolina politician and served in many state positions throughout his career. However, in his speech, he focused on the inexperienced youth of today. He feels that North Carolina’s future depends upon the activism of its youth, something that Y&G is built to encourage.

“We need North Carolinians of all ages to act, so I’m heartened to see you all here, and that you’re becoming civically engaged,” said Cooper.

In his speech, Cooper discussed the government of North Carolina and its needs today. For example, North Carolina’s teachers. Cooper outlined his wish to improve North Carolina’s education in his speech and called on the audience to strive to become teachers.

“Now my mom was a good public school teacher, and she worked hard for her students, and she did wonderful things with her students,” said Cooper.

Cooper’s appearance was more than just a speech; it is a moment that will inspire many delegates in their duties this weekend and the future.

Riley Tucker is a freshman delegate from the Early College of Forsyth, and on his first day at the conference, he saw not only what Y&G has to offer, but what North Carolina’s government has to offer. The event inspired Tucker and plans to carry that excitement through his first Conference.

“To hear it from the person himself, because he could have just made a video [...] but to actually have him here was something,” said Tucker, speaking about what inspired him in the speech.

As Cooper’s speech drew to a close, he spoke again about his belief that Y&G is crucial to the political society of tomorrow and his confidence in the program. Finally, he gave his audience some final wisdom in the spirit of Youth and Government, to carry with them through the conference.

“And as you are here this week learning, remember to engage with each other, learn from each other, [and] meet with people across the state.”