Advocacy takes all of our voices. NAFSA’s 2019 Advocacy Day brought more than 200 constituents, representing 42 states and 130 districts from across the United States together with their members of Congress to stand as a unified voice in support of international education. Advocates shared their knowledge, stories, as well as the impact that international education has on their lives and careers. Advocates shared their remarkable stories through social media recounting their interactions with staffers and what motivates them to advocate:
- Nora Cavazos shared this tweet about the success of her meeting with Representative Pete Olson (R-TX-22).
- Emlyn Torres tweeted about the inspiring impact that study abroad opportunities can offer.
- Mobility International shared this Instagram post of their staff member Justin Harford as he prepared to meet with Oregon’s congressional offices.
- AIFS Study Abroad highlighted two of their alumni ambassadors that attended Advocacy Day in this post.
- Follow #nafsaAD to find more photos and reactions.
A common sentiment shared following the meetings was a feeling of optimism; many of our advocates met with staffers who had experiences studying abroad or interacting with international students. A first-time attendee from Georgia stated, “I came out of my meetings feeling optimistic. Advocacy Day gave me a greater appreciation for our field.” She went on to say that the appreciation stemmed from witnessing the passion for international education that was shared amongst all attendees.
Additionally, advocates often stated how important Advocacy Day is to allowing them to take part in the American political process; they shared a common belief that collectively their voices could make a difference and impact our communities. This shared belief is what drives the success of Advocacy Day each and every year. Advocates commit themselves to taking part in the democratic process of our country, advocating for international students and sharing their love for the field of international education.
Each year during Advocacy Day, the Advocate of the Year award is presented to honor a member of our community for their advocacy work. This award recognizes their dedicated efforts and serves as an inspiration to other international educators to make a difference. This year’s Advocate of the Year is Nora Cavazos of The University of Texas Medical Branch. During her speech, Nora emphasized that successful advocacy takes not just one person but the entire community.
Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. NAFSA advocates will continue to share their local experiences and requests with members of Congress throughout the year, and encourage all those passionate about international education to do the same. “Congress can never know how important an issue is to constituents, unless you tell them,” said Katie O’Connell, director of advocacy and media outreach at NAFSA. For more information about the event, visit www.nafsa.org/advocacyday, and find out how you can advocate from home throughout the year at www.connectingourworld.org.
Kyla Goss is a media relations and advocacy intern in the public policy department at NAFSA: Association of International Educators.