ISM Students Selected for Competitive Minnesota Capitol Page Program
The Minnesota State Capitol may seem like a faraway and intimidating place, but for Andrew Cheng and Aayan Iqbal, two High School juniors at The International School of Minnesota, it was an exciting opportunity to learn more about politics, the legislative process, and expand their leadership skills.
Both students recently completed the Minnesota House of Representatives High School Page Program, an immersive experience for students interested in civic engagement and the influential leadership required of those representing stakeholders. The highly competitive program is open only to Grade 11 students.
When Andrew and Aayan's AP® U.S. Government teacher, Mrs. Schiller, informed their class that the program would be back in 2023, they both jumped at the opportunity to apply. "I saw this as a great opportunity to learn more about politics and the Minnesota-state legislative process, especially as an international student," Andrew said.
The application process required a teacher's letter of recommendation and a 500-word essay prompting applicants to explain why they wanted to be part of the program and what they were looking forward to.
Andrew’s favorite part of the program was talking with different Representatives and the Chief Clerk of the House. The two leaders offered Andrew great advice for his future political pursuits and “they were very willing to share their own stories, experiences, and explain the bills they’re drafting,” he adds. Andrew learned firsthand the importance of inclusive research, due diligence, and stakeholder engagement.
Aayan on the other hand, was drawn to the mock committee proceedings, which ultimately ended up being an unforgettable experience for him. After being chosen to be the chair of the mock committee, Aayan says he “had the chance to lead the conversation about a controversial bill in a really civilized manner. I also met people from all different backgrounds, and they were the reason I enjoyed the week so much. Aayan learned the value of open listening and the importance of working through differing perspectives to reach a consensus.
Mrs. Schiller sees the program as a hands-on experience for students in which they bring their classroom knowledge into the real world. "Within the classroom, students learn the theories about how the U.S. government operates (both state and national). The Page Program offers students the opportunity to observe and participate in the reality of government and politics at the state level," she said.
She commends the ISM participants and says "both young men (Aayan and Andrew) are very serious about their studies and work very hard in class, actively participating, taking notes, and working well within their discussion groups." She hopes that future students gain a lifelong appreciation for the political and governmental processes through the page program.
Overall, the program was an eye-opening and inspiring experience. Both Andrew and Aayan are looking forward to future civic engagement opportunities within ISM and post-graduation.