In their own words: ALA Girls State/Nation participants share their stories

Posted On: Monday, 04 March 2024

Our ALA Girls State and Nation programs shape the lives of thousands of teens each summer and lead to lifelong friendships. The impact can be seen right away. Here are the personal stories from two recent alumnae.
Loor Elbedour
ALA Virginia Girls State 2023

Marvelous and unforgettable. These are the two adjectives I would use to describe the singular week I spent at ALA Virginia Girls State. From the dance parties in the auditorium to the intense late-night moot court prep sessions, I enjoyed every minute.
Being surrounded by highly motivated and intelligent girls inspired me to challenge myself and prompted me to become an active member of the city sessions. At ALA Girls State, every voice mattered, and everyone was encouraged to participate. I witnessed the shyest girls break out of their shells and become leaders. 
At ALA Girls State, my horizons were broadened drastically by how many diverse groups exist all over Virginia. I made long-lasting friendships with girls I would have never met if it weren’t for the program. In one week, I made memories and learned principles I will never forget. 
In my perspective, ALA Girls State isn’t only for individuals interested in government but rather for anyone who truly aspires to get firsthand experience in leadership roles. Every speaker we had highlighted the importance of leadership and why it is crucial for our generation to speak up.  
As a refugee, I dreamed of becoming part of a community so welcoming and enriching. I went from being a 7-year-old girl who couldn’t speak English to becoming an elected lawyer who argued a case in front of a packed auditorium at ALA Girls State. The amount of gratitude I feel for being able to participate in a program like this is infinitely abundant. This opportunity is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience I believe every high school junior should strive to receive.
Laila Ali
ALA California Girls State 
and ALA Girls Nation 2023

ALA Girls Nation taught me the true value of democracy. In a world filled with divisions, this program reinforced the importance of open dialogue, compromise, and unity in shaping our nation’s future. I had the privilege of engaging in debates, discussing policy matters, and working closely with my fellow delegates. It was through these interactions that I came to appreciate the power of diverse perspectives in finding common ground and achieving progress.
ALA Girls Nation allowed me to witness the potential for positive change. I had the opportunity to draft and debate mock legislation, advocating for policies I believed would improve the lives of Americans. It showed me that regardless of our age, we can make a difference by being engaged, informed, and passionate about the issues that matter most to us.
Perhaps one of the most impactful aspects of ALA Girls Nation was the bond I formed with my fellow delegates. Despite our diverse backgrounds and perspectives, we came together as a tight-knit community, supporting and learning from one another. These friendships transcended state lines, and I’m grateful for the lasting connections.
My ALA Girls Nation experience was truly transformative, and I’m thankful for the opportunities the American Legion Auxiliary have provided me. Debating in the senate allowed my passion for legislation to intensify. Campaigning for president taught me the value of my words, of having a platform, and utilizing it. Viewing the D.C. monuments instilled in me a profound sense of patriotism and civic responsibility. I am so excited to take what I learned and use it to make a positive impact on my community and beyond. One day, when I become a legislator, I will credit ALA Girls Nation for allowing me to recognize my passions for government and legislation.

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.