Olga Diupina just finished her first year studying government and international politics at George Mason University. Though she’s always had an interest in politics, she credits American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation with solidifying her passion for this subject.

“It’s a life-changing experience for a lot of girls,” Olga said, “where they can participate in the government, learn more about it, and then take those skills into the world and become better citizens in their communities.”

Olga and her family came to the United States from Russia just over four years ago, so being involved in a program like ALA Washington Girls State and ALA Girls Nation helped her feel included and valuable in a new place.

“It really gave me an opportunity to participate in the government, and I just felt very accepted,” Olga said. “Even though I’m an immigrant, it showed me that I still have a lot of opportunities here, and that was really important to me.”

While at ALA Girls State, Olga loved experiencing mock government events and stepping into the shoes of lawmakers. She knows that the value of experiencing leadership roles can be extremely important for young women, as it was for her. She grew from events like answering questions on the fly, debates, and even presenting a nuclear energy bill in front of the entire program at ALA Girls Nation.

Amidst the excitement and busy week, what Olga found most touching was the camaraderie she felt with people from all walks of life.

“I learned a lot about bipartisanship and taking the time to listen and try to understand where people are coming from,” Olga said. “Even though at first I might disagree, it’s just about really appreciating someone else’s input.”

Because of #GivingTuesday, Olga Diupina discovered her passion for government and politics.  You can help young women like Olga develop leadership skills and government knowledge by supporting the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation this #GivingTuesday, Dec. 1.

Make your gift at www.ALAFoundation.org/GivingTuesday.