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Day 14 – Las Vegas – By Sami Lapayowker

Vegas Baby.

Yesterday  we arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s the 16th day of the trip, but my true journey has just begun. Two days ago, before coming to Vegas, we watched a documentary called “I Am” showing the connectedness between everything on earth. That movie really made me think about how I’m connected to people and vice versa. When they asked the question “What is right in the world?” after answering what what was wrong with it, the answer was “I Am.” Those few words completely changed my perspective of the trip and made me realize why I am here. After seeing such an inspirational film, how was I going to go to Las Vegas and be scientifically and spiritually connected with anyone?

Today we visited a training facility for people who work on the Vegas Strip. We learned about what unions are, and the pros and cons of them. Unions are basically groups of employees who want to have some power over their own job. They get benefits and stand together no matter what, but sometimes the system is flawed. For example, a senior worker would get a job before a younger worker, even if the younger worker was better and faster at that specific job. We walked through the facility and saw where the different classes were.They had a huge kitchen for culinary classes and actual replicas of rooms from hotels for housekeeping students to practice with. After the tour, we discussed what minimum and living wages were. Living wage is the amount of money a person needs to get their bare necessities like food and water. Basically, minimum wage is almost 3X lower than living wage and even more for an adult supporting a child. I had an idea that maybe lowering the costs of items would bring down the living wage, which means if the minimum wage stayed the same, it would actually be able to sustain the person and allow them to buy their grocery and medical basics.

Of course, after learning about how one of us and 1 idea could change the world and be the 6% that actually tries to make a difference, we were starving. We went to In N Out Burger, and it was one of the juiciest and most amazing burgers I have ever eaten. Sorry Florida, but Vegas is beating you.

After lunch, we ventured back to the hotel and met with Niger Innis, chief strategist of TeaPartyNation.net. I expected him to be overly patriotic and dress as if he was from the historical tea party, but he was down to earth and unlike the media representations of the Tea Party.  He told us about the Tea Party’s platform: they want to reduce federal and national debt by reducing spending and taxes. The word “tea” in the Tea Party movement comes from the slogan, “Taxed Enough Already.” The Tea Party Movement  also takes a hard stance against immigrants becoming American citizens and receiving benefits just because they came to America illegally. He then talked about other current issues, such as gay marriage – which he does not support, but he supports civil unions. It was incredible to see how modern and civil this lobbyist was and how his ideas did make sense, even if I didn’t believe in some of them (Gay marriage, immigration, etc.).

Watch Tea Party Strategist Niger Innis answer the question of what the difference is between the Tea Party and a conservative Republican. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmXWuvPbkGY&feature=em-upload_owner

Next, we celebrated Jordan’s birthday -HAPPY BIRTHDAY JORDAN – and had free time. It was our last night in Vegas, so we saw the Blue Man Group. It was breathtaking how insanely awesome their show was. They did one act where they described the brain and the neurons, and actually connected their drums (in the shape of neurons) to the brain. Of course, the dance party was pretty sweet as well. Seeing The Blue Man Group was probably my favorite event we did here because it showed how much we are all connected, how our brains are connected, how we don’t need texting or Facebook or Twitter to be connected to other people.

Well, now we’re off to California. Viva Las Vegas!