This spring, I was among 17,000 students who gathered for DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Atlanta. The April 23-26 event was a massive competition for students involved in the National Business and Marketing Club.
After qualifying by placing locally and nationally, I knew the national competition would be tough. And because I was the only student from my school to qualify and participate in the event, my mother was able to travel with me instead of my DECA counselor.
Although the main purpose of the trip was the DECA contest, we were able to see the sights of Atlanta in our free time.
The trip was filled with extreme highs and lows.
Pros: I visited some of the tourist destinations in Atlanta with my mom and did well in the competition, placing in the top 10 in my category, which was hotel and lodging management.
The Lows: A guy tried to hide on my flight from Seattle to Atlanta by hiding in the plane’s lavatory. I was sitting in the back of the plane near the lavatory and watched as they finally cleared it. It was both an entertaining and frightening experience.
But this is not the question.
Atlanta itself is a bustling and energetic city. It is home to Six Flags Over Georgia, the World of Coca-Cola, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, among other popular destinations.
The attraction I enjoyed the most, however, was the Georgia Aquarium, which happens to be the largest in the United States. From menacing-looking sharks to majestic tropical fish and playful sea lions, the aquarium brings the underwater world to life.
Another must-see destination in Atlanta is the childhood home of Martin Luther King Jr.
Built in 1895, the historic home is where King was born and raised for the first 12 years of his life. The house has since been restored to its original appearance, allowing guests to visualize what King’s childhood must have been like. As I toured the house, it was mind-blowing to think that I was in the same building that such an important historical figure once called home.
As for the main event of the trip, the DECA Nationals, I enjoyed meeting other students from across the country and having the opportunity to represent Selah. I would definitely recommend DECA to all my high school classmates as it is a valuable learning experience.
Natalie Keller is a junior at Selah High School.