Nathalie Nidetch, a Hewlett High School student, was our Student in Albany this year. She is a young woman involved both with school affairs and on the field; from what I understand, she is a very active and quite good soccer player, an excellent student, and involved in many things. From her personal account below of her experience in Albany, she was the perfect choice.
I’ve always had a love for politics. Being a committed soccer player, I never believed that getting involved into politics would ever be a reality for me; I assumed that I would just be playing soccer for the rest of my life. Now obviously that is not realistic, so I had to put some serious thought into what I really wanted to do with my life.
I knew I loved to debate and that I had a strong belief in expressing my concerns/ideas when it came to my community but, knowing very little about the political world, I wasn’t sure how I could incorporate all of this into a profession.
That is until I was approached by The League. The League had contacted my U.S. History teacher explaining to him how they were looking for a candidate to participate in their “Students in Albany” program, a program that asks students who are interested in politics to come to the State Capitol, in Albany, where they would be meeting Legislatures and learning more about how our States’ Government is run. Knowing my interest in U.S. History my teacher presented this trip to me and explained how this trip could be something very beneficial for my future in politics. After doing some research of my own I decided to accept The League’s offer.
At first, I was a little hesitant when I arrived in Albany. Not knowing any of the kids there, knowing very little about politics with a group of very informed kids, and being away from home was all very intimidating. I have to admit, when I first got there I immediately texted my mom and told her that I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do this. But boy was I wrong. Soon I would realize that I would meet long term new friends, get a better understanding for our States’ Government, and a new insight in what kind of role I would like to have in the political world.
During this trip I was able to meet, and learn from, many distinguished members of our government. But for me, the most eye opening part of this trip was meeting, and sitting with, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg. I was able to sit and chat with Mr. Weisenberg with another girl from the Students In Albany program.
Mr. Weisenberg opened up to us in every way possible. He shared with us how he grew up, how he first got involved in politics, the specific morals that he valued most, and how his family effected every decision he makes in office. He opened up to us about how his disabled son is one of his biggest motivations and how his wife, Ellen, is his world. He showed us family pictures, discussed our common knowledge of the Island, and even asked us about our own families and interests.
After meeting with Mr. Weisenberg I rejoined with some of the other students where we discussed our experience. Many had revealed that their meetings were very formal and short and they were in some way disappointed. Hearing that, I truly understood how fortunate I was to have met with Mr. Weisenberg, a man that took the time to sit down with us and share intimate details of his life that intrigued us throughout our whole meeting.
During our meeting Mr. Weisenberg shared with us how he wasn’t a typical Assemblyman. He explained that on many occasions he had argued against Governor Cuomo on issues that he felt very strongly about. And with his persistency and passion he was able to help pass bills that benefitted the handicap community. Being that he has a handicapped son I fully understood why he felt so strongly about this topic and, in some way, it was kind of a breath of fresh air to see someone fight for what they believed in even though the “boss” did not agree. Initially I believed, an idea that did not rest easily with me, that the only way to get ahead was to agree with the popular majority.
Now seeing that Mr. Weisenberg has conducted himself in a way that not only gains the respect of his co-workers but also allows him to stand up for what he believes in has motivated me. It has motivated me to always stand up for what I believe in, and for what I think is right, no matter what the popular majority might believe. I aspire to be like Mr. Weisenberg. A man who stands up for his community in times when it seems as if no one else will. And hopefully one day I will be able to affect the lives of the people in the way that Mr. Weisneberg has done for so many years.
Now, meeting with Mr. Weisenberg was not the only thing I experienced on this trip. We got a tour of the capitol building, where we learned the history of the architecture, met with legislatures who discussed issues going on in education, and we were even able to sit in during session. I was even able to meet Senator Dean Skelos!
But don’t get me wrong we had some fun mixed in too. We had a bowling night and even went on a boat tour of the Hudson River. This trip was the perfect mix between fun and educational that made it enjoyable all the way through.