Once In a Lifetime: Advocacy Day

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About a month ago I got an email informing that I had been selected to attended the Advocacy Day conference, organized by NAFSA in Washington D.C. I couldn’t wait to go the conference, advocating for the laws and things I believe in.

The conference was held from March 18-19 in the Doubletree Hotel in Washington D.C. with over 200 attendees representing 38 states. The Massachusetts contingent was the largest contingent present.

The first day of the conference concentrated mainly on skill building, how to advocate for your cause when you are in the presence of some the most powerful people in the American Politics or in any country in general. There were various speakers that paid attention to different aspects of advocating -from introductions to how to keep the conversation going.

A lot of emphasis was put on how to build a connection with the person you are talking to and are trying to convince for your cause. We had the opportunity of meeting staff member from other universities and students from all over the United States. There weren’t a lot of students present but I was informed that the conference has seen a steady rise in the number of student attendees over the years.

On our first day in Washington D.C. we were privileged enough to receive a private tour of The Capitol from a staff member from a New Hampshire congresswoman. It was an amazing first time experience; it was astonishing to see the amount of history attached to a building.

For me personally, the second day was one of the best experiences I have had. The Massachusetts contingent had the opportunity of meeting with highest staff members of the two Massachusetts senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. We talked about the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Act and the new immigration bill. We got to hear both sides of the story, Democratic and Republican. We also went to Congressman Jim McGovern’s office as a small group and had a great productive conversation with his staff member. Most officials were unavailable as it was recess time.

This was an amazing opportunity to experience and interact with people who have been working in this field for so long and have so much to share. We were a contingent of 4 undergraduate students; Eliana Hadjeandreou, Danielle Strandson and Oscar Zapata. Mariana Davila, who is a fifth year student currently living in D.C. joined us for the conference. The great Clark staff members, Patricia Doherty and Constance Whitehead-Hanks, who played a key in making this trip so successful, also accompanied us. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity; the city, the people, and the power. Everything about this trip was memorable; hopefully I will have the opportunity to go on a trip like this in the near future.

– Radhika Sharma

The Advocacy Day group will be presenting on the experience on Tuesday, April 15 at 4:00 PM  – Second Floor Dana Commons – Clark University

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