Every year, NAFSA, the professional association for international educators, holds an event in Washington, DC called Advocacy Day. This 2-day event is comprised of advocacy training and practice activities, and ends with visits to each individual’s congressional delegation on Capitol Hill to advocate for international education and exchange.
Each year, the Alumni Team chooses two exceptional AIFS Alumni Ambassadors to attend this event, giving them the opportunity to learn valuable advocacy skills and lobby their members of Congress on the importance of international education and creating more opportunities for students to go abroad.
This year we were honored to have Taylor Cline of Seattle Pacific University and Maggie Kidnay-Rouse of Regis University attend the event and represent themselves, their home universities, and AIFS. More from Taylor about her experience:
I walked into Advocacy Day not knowing what to expect. I quickly learned that I would not only be discussing issues of immigration and international education, but lobbying in support of bills to advance these issues. Anxiety quickly turned to excitement, and it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I learned about how these bills would positively affect the U.S. economy and the global community, as well as different points of resistance I might encounter with the representatives. I met with part of the Washington State congressional delegation, both Senator Murray and Senator Cantwell, and Congressman McDermott’s office. All three offices were in support of the bills, and it was reassuring to have these issues that I am so passionate about be so well received.
We live in a country where you can reach out to the people who represent you and make your voice heard. This is something I always knew in theory, but never in practice. Aside from a limited knowledge of the political system, the concept of marching into an office and asking for support on something seemed extremely intimidating to me. My experience on the Hill was the exact opposite. The biggest takeaway for me had nothing to do with study abroad, and everything to do with my role as a local, national, and global citizen. I realized that not only is it my right to make my voice heard, it is my duty. If I expect change, I need to demand it. Today was the start of what I can tell will be a long career of advocating for the issues that I am passionate about. I am extremely thankful to have had this opportunity and I would jump at the chance participate again in the future.
Once again, we were honored to have these two outstanding alumni represent us this year at Advocacy Day. To find out more about advocating for international education and exchange programs, visit the NAFSA website. And click here for more on our Alumni Programs.