June 2016 Visit to Congress!

June 2016 Congress Visit

School Girls Unite representing three different schools, joined by two students with Global Kids, talked up a storm about Education for All legislation on Capitol Hill. Students requested meetings and met with staff for Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, as well as Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. John Sarbanes. Their arguments for equal education for girls globally received solid support from these Members of Congress.

By Misbah F., rising senior at Wilde Lake High School, Columbia, Maryland

I had always believed that lobbying was something that only large interest groups and organizations did, but through School Girls Unite, I was able to experience lobbying for a bill I cared about firsthand.

On June 15, my friend Lia C. and I from Wilde Lake High School, along with a delegation of School Girls Unite members from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and two students with Global Kids, had the opportunity of going to the House and Senate buildings to meet with legislative aides from the offices of Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. John Sarbanes as well as Senator Ben Cardin to advocate for their support of the Education For All Act and their involvement in regards to the International Basic Education Caucus.

The Education For All Act calls for the creation of a comprehensive integrated U.S. strategy that would promote and improve education around the world. The bill advocates for the USAID to create a permanent education coordinator position who would make sure that education is always a top priority in the our foreign strategy.

We were also advocating for the Congressmen to join the International Basic Education Caucus. This caucus is a bipartisan group of House Members that holds forums to advocate for global education issues.

We first met with a legislative aide with Congressman Cummings’ office, Mr. Ervin Bishop, who was very responsive and interested in what we had to say. It was a good experience, especially because I had not come in with the expectation that the staffer would be that interested in what a group of high school students had to say. He promised to inform Congressman Cummings about the legislation and find out if he would be interested in being a co-sponsor and in joining the caucus.

Next we met with Ms. Anna Killius, the legislative aide for Congressman Sarbanes. We had a similar experience with her, as she was also very responsive and eager to hear about the Act, and asked about our own personal stories. She also promised to see if Congressman Sarbanes would be interested in cosponsoring the Education for All Act, but said he most likely would not join the caucus because he selects only informal groups that align with his top priorities.

After these House meetings, we walked to the Senate side as the delegation from B-CC had a meeting with Margot Hecht, Senator Cardin’s staffer on the Foreign Relations Committee. Lia and I sat in on the meeting, which was also a very productive and engaging conversation. She seemed very interested and spoke of the Senator’s commitment to education.

Overall, the experience was extremely rewarding and insightful. I had not realized how responsive congressional staff would be to a group of high school students, which was very uplifting to see. I realized that my voice truly does matter, and I’m grateful that I had this experience with School Girls Unite and hope to have similar experiences in the future.

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