To the Bee and Beyond
Motivated by a genuine enthusiasm for learning, Benjamin, an eighth grader from Washington, viewed the National Civics Bee® as a golden opportunity to expand his knowledge in a new subject. He was immediately drawn to the competition, expressing his thought process: “I get to study, which some people might not like, but I enjoy it a lot.”
An exciting part of the contest for Benjamin was writing an essay and sharing his ideas with his community. He chose to advocate for equitable access to technology. “Computer science in this digital revolution is super important,” Benjamin shared. “Many people don’t have access to resources, or access is limited…some people don’t even have Wi-Fi or computers.” Growing up with these luxuries, Benjamin recognizes the privilege. Through his essay, he effectively conveys to his peers just how disadvantaged the lack of resources can make someone.
The National Civics Bee® also provided a platform for Benjamin to hone his public speaking skills. He went through numerous iterations with his parents and teachers, refining his presentation with each day. He frequently asked himself, “Does this sound good? Is there something I can do to improve?”
His preparation paid off by the time the Washington state finals rolled around in the summer. The competition, hosted by the Association of Washington Business (AWB), was set at the scenic Museum of Flight in Seattle, and it was there that Benjamin was able to show off his newfound civics knowledge and earned the first-place prize.
Impressed by Benjamin’s winning performance and his insightful generational perspectives, AWB’s leadership invited him to join the delegation for their annual D.C. fly-in. This event provided a valuable opportunity for Benjamin and his mother, Wendy, to travel to Washington, D.C., where they sat face-to-face with influential decision-makers, including Washington state’s senators and representatives.
It was Benjamin’s first trip to D.C., and he left a lasting impression by actively contributing to discussions centered on addressing the needs of local businesses in his home state. This experience, coupled with his participation in the National Civics Bee®, truly illuminated for Benjamin what it means to be an active participant in American democracy.
“Before the National Civics Bee®, I thought that maybe I could do a bit of volunteer work, but other than that, it was mainly the government’s job [to solve problems]. But now I know that there’s a lot of things that I and other people like me can do to help our community…we all have a civic duty to do something if we see a problem.”
Benjamin plans to explore a future career that combines business and computer science, with a growing interest in economics. But most importantly, he emphasizes that whatever path he chooses, his primary goal is to make a positive impact on society.