The worthy work of advocacy

Posted on September 12, 2016

The worthy work of advocacy

by Annika Erickson-Pearson

I’ll never forget my first day of advocacy meetings on the Hill. I’d stayed up until 2am the night before, researching, making notes, writing scripts, throwing said notes and scripts away, and then re-writing new ones. It’s out of character for me: I’m a public speaker and scarcely anything makes me nervous. Except, apparently, for members of Congress.

But I spent the whole night obsessing about how to articulate an argument because the words I was meant to speak weren’t about me and my future, they were about the futures of millions of children around the world. This was so much bigger than me, and I wanted to make sure I got it right. How do you convey to the busiest people in the world, the ones who have dozens of meetings exactly like this every day, the reality of millions of kids? How, maybe it’s distance, or an unstable political situation, or just a lack of qualified educators that keeps them out of the classroom and deepens the economic divide between them and their peers, solidifying a future of poverty? Or what about the children that are in the classroom with two hundred other students and one instructor; the ones who go to school every day, but without support, can’t learn?

Yeah. I wanted to get that right.

And it turns out that, with persistence from myself and hundreds of other advocates around the country, and the tireless, thoughtful work of dedicated staff, we did get something right. The Education for All Act passed in the House this Wednesday, September 7, a milestone over ten years in the making.

To me, this represents a glorious moment worth celebrating, worth remembering. I want to take a moment to remember all of the meetings with members of Congress or staff on the Hill in D.C., in-district across the country, the emails and letters and phone calls, the awareness campaigns, the film screenings, the petitions, the late-night strategy sessions, and the relationships built. This is how we win. We take the privilege and access we’ve been given, right here in the U.S., and we put that to work for the millions and millions around the world who don’t have it.

So, I want to offer my congratulations and heartfelt gratitude to all who helped to make this happen! Let’s remember this feeling of accomplishment and turn our attention across the Capitol towards the Senate. We’ve learned that it’s hard work, but I can’t imagine any work more worthy.

Annika Erickson-Pearson is a GCE-US Youth Advocacy Training alum and a current GCE-US Board Member

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