Lobbying in Washington D.C. – speaking up for a cause

Here, Erica Abbott, left, advocates for social justice issues she believes in to an aide to one of her senators in Washington, DC. She is joined by other members in her ECG class: Jessica Ferreri, Steven Kagiavas, Julian Newman, Dan Luner and Jacqueline Texter.

If you had the chance to voice your opinions on global issues to people that could create a change, would you?

Students in Dr. Jerry Zurek’s ECG Working for Global Justice got the chance to do just that. On Friday, Dec. 5, 23 students and two Cabrini missioners began the over two-hour-long drive down to Washington D.C.

This was not a typical tourist trip though. Students did not get to take in the sights of the city (at least not for very long) or explore the museums and monuments that usually go hand-in-hand with a trip to Washington.

This trip was very different because we got to lobby on behalf of those suffering around the world. We took the issues we studied about all semester and lobbied to Congress regarding poverty-focused development assistance and supporting goals for long-term development.

Students lobbied on a varied amount of issues—some having a more personal connection to what they were discussing. Throughout the day, groups of students lobbied on topics like gender equality, education, unaccompanied minors and more.

These global issues were brought to the attention of the aides to the senators and representatives of each student’s respective congressional district. Our impending meetings led us into the various buildings, presentations in hand, donning business attire–much like a quintessential lobbyist.

Walking into the first building brought with it a jumble of nerves. The weeks that we spent practicing for this day had finally arrived and it seemed as though it was all too soon.

Lobbying to Congress on world issues is not something that college students, or anyone really besides professional activists, do on a typical day. But we had the opportunity to have our voices heard, while many others do not.

That’s something that I realized as the semester progressed—as we went through some of the regular motions of a class, learned about Catholic Relief Services and their mission and had the phrase “poverty-focused development assistance” become a regular part of our vocabulary—that what we were doing was really central to the mission of the college itself.

As a wrote in the beginning of my presentation to Congress, “at Cabrini College, we are taught with an “education of the heart” to have concern for those in need. It is important as well that those concerns are addressed and acted on.”

We learn about social injustices in our ECG classes every year. Not everyone gets to act on them. But if you had the chance to speak up for a cause, would you?

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