This month’s Student Showcase is brought to you by Einstein student Kian Salem, who describes his experience at The Friends Committee on National Legislation Convention in Washington, D.C. To learn more about FCNL, click here.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a nonpartisan organization that focuses on congressional lobbying for the advancement of peace and justice, held a four-day convention designed to train young adults how to lobby their local, state, and national congress representatives. I was fortunate enough to attend this convention and was presented with a multitude of wonderful opportunities, a vast array of knowledge, and many young adults from around the world to connect with.
On March 17th, 2018, I arrived at Union Station in the heart of Washington D.C. with an eager mind that was unsure what to expect and hopped on the metro, making my way to the National Press Building. As soon as the elevators opened to the 13th floor, it immediately became apparent to me that I was about to be a part of something special. I came with the North Texas group, consisting of around 20 students, but the convention was full with nearly 500 young adults of every background imaginable! The radiant energy of all the passionate young adults could be felt throughout the building for the entirety of the convention. I bonded with many new people; there were opportunities to socialize sprinkled throughout the serious and demanding convention.
During the convention, I underwent comprehensive training on how to lobby my local House representative, and both Texas senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. From small group workshops on writing letters to the editor to seeing members of the House of Representatives give speeches, the training I received was elaborate and covered all aspects of lobbying congress. The group that I was in successfully spoke with several of our representatives about various issues that mattered to us, and during a meet-and-greet we used the training we learned to schedule a meeting with several of Ted Cruz’s staffers. We also went to watch senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren speak on poverty issues at the Capitol Building and got a surprise visit from them and an opportunity to take photographs!
The trip was a once in a lifetime experience where I gained an invaluable wealth of knowledge. It showed me that everyone’s individual voice matters in the United States government and representatives should constantly be reminded of who they are representing. I witnessed the epitome of democracy and was able to actively participate in it. I not only connected with peers from all around the DFW Metroplex, but met people coming all the way from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East! The overall lesson all attendees took home from the convention is that a democracy requires many people to come together to use their collective voice to demand change.