2022 Virtual LDZ continues to evolve the format in its successful second year
The 2022 Virtual LDZ program, like the preceding version last year, was an alternative to the traditional in-person Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session. Taking place from July 25 to 30, the online program engaged a group of 19 students representing Mexico and states spread from coast-to-coast across the U.S.
As educational director Steven Hernandez explained, though, the program is different — by design — from the LDZs modeled on state and federal government systems. As NHIMagazine.com discussed back in May, the Virtual LDZ focuses on how nonprofits and businesses operate, with NHI’s core concepts of community equity building and community social entrepreneurship at the heart of the experience.
“The goal was to not make it a carbon copy of the LDZ youth legislative session,” Hernandez noted. “Because what happens with carbon copies is the first page looks great. The second page starts fading. And then as you keep going by, it starts decreasing the quality.”
“Into coming into this year, we kept echoing the phrase, it’s not the youth legislative session. It’s the youth governance session,” he said of the team that helped him facilitate the experience for the participating students. “We took a more direct approach at challenging the students taking their own leadership into their hands, especially because it’s a smaller group.”
The students who participated in the program not only learned within the online environment but also drew inspiration from the six days together that they’ll take back to their communities going forward.
“My time at the LDZx was both informative and transformative,” said Austin Fiorito of St. John’s School in Houston. “With all the new ideas and ways that we found to improve our community, I cannot wait to see them become real in the future.”
“What I was able to learn from my LDZx experience was the fact that no matter how long something takes or how challenging it is, there’s always a solution and a way to get through it, and you will get through it as long as you stay dedicated and focused on achieving your goal,” remarked Justin Soto from St. Anthony Catholic High School in San Antonio.
He depicted the experience of being one of two chamber executives as “very nerve-racking at first, but gave me a sense of responsibility and took me out of my comfort zone, giving me a new outlook on myself to not to be afraid no matter how big the task seems. There is always a way that you as a person can overcome.”
“This summer, I had the good fortune of completing the 2nd step on the NHI leadership journey,” said Adhy Agarwala from Regis High School in Brooklyn, New York. “As with every NHI program, it brought together people from across the United States, Mexico and Central America. Ideas were exchanged, honed, and ultimately developed into proposals that were deliberated upon. The proceedings of the various chambers that were established exposed me to the parliamentary process and taught me about the work of politics — deliberation, negotiation, compromise, and leadership.”
“My efforts were realized in the adoption of the proposal that I led,” he added. “On multiple occasions, I was challenged and as a result grew as a public speaker. It was enriching to form friendships with my group mates and to forge wonderful memories in the LDZ.”
Top elected officials and award winners from the program included:
Presiding Officer of the Community Equity Building Chamber: Austin Florito, St. John’s School, Houston, Texas
Presiding Officer of the Social Entrepreneurship Chamber: Luna Poole, South Warren High School, Bowling Green, KY
Chief Executive: Keyla Limones, IDEA Pharr, Pharr, Texas
Most Promising Delegate: Arianna Melchor, Caldwell High School, Caldwell, Idaho
Best Asset Builder: Matthew Castillo, Harlingen High School, Harlingen, Texas
Best Community Builder: Justin Soto, St. Gerard Catholic High School, San Antonio, Texas
Best Visionary: Jadeden Sanchez, All Hallows High School, Bronx, NY
Best Debater: Victoria Figueroa Ayala, West Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nev.
Ricky Miranda Award: Adhyatman Agarwala, Regis High School, New York City, N.Y.
El Premio de Resiliencia: Fatima Zetina, ITESM, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
Resolutions passed into law during the session include:
- “Providing Resources to Schools,” written by Arianna Melchor, Caldwell High School, Caldwell, Idaho
- “Leadership In Schools,” written by Austin Fiorito, St. John’s School, Houston, Texas
- “Latinos! Future Leaders and Educators,” written by Matthew Castillo, Harlingen High School, Harlingen, Texas
- “Formalizing artistic features to improve well-being within a Community,” written by Rebecca Lince, IDEA Pharr, Pharr, Texas
- “Cultivation of Creative Arts and Music Youth Initiative, a necessary lead to enhance for our Communities,” written by Keyla Limones, IDEA Pharr, Texas
- “The Latino Public Art Community Initiative,” written by Miranda Burgos, University of Illinois Laboratory High School, Urbana, Ill.
- “An alignment of school-provided educational materials with the desires of the Latinx community with respect to schools that are Latinx majority,” by Adhyatman Agarwala, Regis High School, New York City, N.Y.
- “The Latin Community Leaders Association,” written by Justin Soto, St. Gerard Catholic High School, San Antonio, Texas
- “Acceptance, Inclusion, and Respect for Latino Community,” written by Fatima Zetina, ITESM, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
- “Mentoring the Latinx Leaders of Tomorrow: School Programs Linking the Experience of Different-Aged Students”, a joint proposal written by the Community Equity Building Chamber and the Community Social Entrepreneurship Chamber, both of which conclude:
- Arianna Melchor, Caldwell High School, Caldwell, Idaho
- Nathalia Sada, Cotulla High School, Cotulla, Texas
- Jadeden Sanchez, All Hallows High School, Bronx, N.Y.
- Kate Guzman, Cotulla High School, Cotulla, Texas
- Rosa Martinez-Rodriguez, Crockett High School, Austin, Texas
- Matthew Castillo, Harlingen High School, Harlingen, Texas
- Rebecca Lince, IDEA Pharr, Pharr, Texas
- Eduardo Mendoza, IDEA Pharr, Pharr, Texas
- Keyla Limones, IDEA Pharr, Pharr, Texas
- Fatima Zetina, ITESM, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México
- Luke Blazejewski, Mahwah High School, Mahwah, N.J.
- Stella Flores, Marlborough School, Los Angeles, Calif.
- Adhyatman Agarwala, Regis High School, New York City, N.Y.
- Justin Soto, St. Gerard Catholic High School, San Antonio, Texas
- Miranda Burgos, University of Illinois Laboratory High School, Urbana, Ill.
- Victoria Figueroa Ayala, West Career and Technical Academy, Las Vegas, Nev.