For students who had spent their school year transitioning from distance learning to the classroom, Virtual Youth Experience was an appropriate way to begin their summer.
In June six Lynches River Electric Cooperative student representatives were among 74 high-achieving students in the state that participated in a week-long, part web-conference, part in-person event sponsored by South Carolina’s electric cooperatives.
Using their laptops and smartphones, our local teens discussed issues of the day with U.S. Representatives James Clyburn and Nancy Mace and U.S. Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham. Sen. Scott emphasized the importance of education in facing our country’s hurdles, calling it “the closest thing to magic in America.”
The students also got screen time with Rev. Charles Jackson of West Columbia’s Brookland Baptist Church and State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell. Rev. Jackson pointed to love as the way to “transcend these barriers that divide us.”
To conclude their week, the students gathered at Fairfield Electric where they heard inspiring messages from South Carolina Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette and Chris Singleton—a former professional baseball player whose mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, was one of nine killed in 2015’s Emanuel AME Church shooting.
Lt. Gov. Evette recounted to the students guidance her Polish-born grandmother gave her—“Take your God-given talents and make your country better.” While Singleton talked to the group about unity, overcoming adversity and the freeing power of forgiveness.
Now we get to hear from the students, who spent the week learning how to create and produce audio podcasts that complete the sentence: “This is my country….” By the time you read this column, the podcasts should be available online at anchor.fm/ecsc.
The Virtual Youth Experience began last year when the risks of COVID-19 caused cooperative programs like the Rural Electric Youth Tour and the Cooperative Youth Summit to be cancelled. The programs allow high school students to learn about electric cooperatives and how their government works.
Virtual Youth Experience offers a wonderful opportunity for our future leaders to hear directly from the people making a difference in the world today. We wish all the students who participated the very best.