Sofia Mai hasn’t been in her hometown of Englewood very much since September because she has been serving as a Congressional page in Washington, …
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Sofia Mai hasn’t been in her hometown of Englewood very much
since September because she has been serving as a Congressional
page in Washington, D.C.
She was nominated as a page in August when Colorado
Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-Denver, was notified she could
select a page for the coming term.
The Congresswoman said every member of the U.S. House of
Representatives doesn’t get to nominate a page every session. The
clerk of pages keeps track and notifies a representative when a
nominee is needed.
So, when the Congresswoman got the call in August, she said,
since her last pages were from Denver and since her district
included Englewood, she turned to Englewood High School for a
Then EHS Principal Linda Torres nominated Mai. She met the
qualifications since she was 16, a junior and had a 3.0 or better
grade point average.
Mai completed the application process, she was accepted and
traveled to Washington just after Labor Day. Normally a page serves
one term and Mai was originally scheduled to complete her term in
early January. However, she was one of 12 pages asked to stay on
for a second term and serve until May.
Recently, she had a break in her busy schedule which allowed Mai
to take time to visit Congresswoman DeGette’s Washington, D.C.,
office and spend a few minutes talking about her experiences as a
How do you like being a page?
It is the best experience I have ever had. I’ve been here since
September and learned so much. I’m glad I got to stay the extra
session but there is so much still to see and learn that I’m still
not really ready to go home yet.
What is a typical day’s schedule for you?
I wake up at about 5:30 a.m. and get ready to go to school that
starts at 6:45. We are in class until its time for us to head off
to work about 9 a.m. That is an hour before the Congressional
session starts at about 10 a.m. We get our assignment, work until
it’s time to take a break for lunch. After lunch, we go back to
work until the session is adjourned. I have a little different
schedule because I am a documentation page now, which means I have
to be on duty an hour early. Part of my duties involve raising the
American flag over the House of Representatives. That is because it
is the tradition that the American flag flies when the House of
Representatives is in session. The two of us on duty raise the flag
at the start of the session and lower it when the session is
In addition, the two of us are responsible for ringing the bell
system for votes. There are bells in all offices and halls of the
House office buildings. We ring a series of signals to let members
know how long it is until a vote is scheduled to be taken so they
can come for the floor of the House of Representatives to vote.
Documentation pages also stay for special orders which come after
the legislative business is concluded and is a time a member can be
recognized and speak on any subject he or she wishes to discuss.
The other night the special orders time ran until 10 p.m. and, once
they finished, the other page and I went up, lowered the flag and
then we got to go home.
How do you keep up with your education?
The Page School is on the upper floor of the Library of
Congress. We got to classes every weekday. There are 40-minute
classes in subjects like English and math, classes in French and
Spanish, there is a class in social studies and there is even a
yearbook class. Of course, you are learning every day just being
here in Washington, D.C., and being a Congressional page.
Academically, we are not in class six hours a day like we were at
Englewood High School. But the Page School classes are very good
academically and we have a lot of homework to make up for the time
we are not in class. Also the pages also get to see and do a lot of
things that are educational. For example, we take field trips to
historic sites like we are scheduled to go to Gettysburg next
weekend. Also, we get to be a part of events. For example, we had
tickets to the Presidential Inauguration. That was absolutely
You were originally to serve the fall semester that ended in
January. How did you get selected to stay on as a page?
I expected I would go home in January but I wasn’t looking
forward to it because I wanted to stay in Washington a while
longer. Fortunately, they needed some additional pages for the
second session and the Clerk of Pages asked 12 of the 60 pages to
serve a second session. I was lucky enough to be one of the 12
asked to stay a second session and I quickly said yes, so now I’ll
be here until early June.
What are you learning by living here in the Nation’s
One important lesson I am learning is how to be more independent
as I live away from home and live on my own. That is important
because I am planning to go away to college after I graduate from
How much do you feel you have matured serving as a Congressional
A lot. I know I am less shy and I am more self-confident than I
was before I came here. I did have to learn to walk a lot faster
than I used to. Now I walk at what we call the “page walk” which is
pretty fast because we have to move quickly from place to place to
do our job. I know that all these incredible experienced I am
having here have helped me mature and I want to remember all the
details That’s the reason I have take tons of pictures and have
written things down so I don’t forget the time I spent here.
You don’t work all the time, so what keep you busy?
The Page Program sets up a lot of programs to make sure we get
out and visit the sights in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding
area instead of just staying in our rooms and sleep when we aren’t
on duty. We have taken trips to the Monticello home of Thomas
Jefferson and next week, we are going to Gettysburg. Here in the
city, we have visited many of the museums right here on the
National Mall. We also have taken trips to colleges like the
University of Virginia and George Washington University. The trips
are great and along with doing homework, laundry and keeping the
room neat, we are pretty busy most of the time.
How much has this experience taught you about the American
I have learned so much about our government. When I first got
here, I didn’t understand much of what they were doing or saying
during the House of Representative sessions. Now, I better
understand the legislative process and the issues they are voting
on. Also, the pages see the legislative calendar so we know in
advance the issues that are coming before the U.S. House of
What will you take back to Englewood when your term is
I’ll take all these wonderful experiences I have had here home
with me. For example, just today, I met Sen. John McCain. That was
special as was the fact we were here for passage of the federal
stimulus bill. There are the little things too. I have made friends
with people from around the country and learned from them. I also
learned about early classes and I know, when I get home, I won’t
complain about a 9 a.m. class. That’s so much better than starting
school at 6:45.
Are you ready to go home?
Yes and no. I’m not ready to go home because I just love it
here, I enjoy being a page and being with the friends I have made
while I am here. But going home will be nice because I do miss
being at Englewood. I miss my family, my friends, I didn’t get to
go to prom and I miss sports because I was on the swim team and the
tennis team. But I will have the summer to catch up with everyone
and I really feel I will return to Englewood High School a more
mature person because of my experiences as a Congressional
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