A year ago, I would have been too intimidated to even consider setting up a meeting with my member of Congress. But earlier this week, I found myself on Capitol Hill, in the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, confidently explaining to his aide why our federal safety net programs must be protected.
I’m just a college student from Wisconsin, but over the past nine months, I’ve learned how to use the political process to make the change I want to see. How many people can say that?
It all started last summer, when I attended the RESULTS International Conference as a REAL Change Fellow. Suddenly I found myself with a group of people who truly cared about what was happening in our country and around the world. It was such a refreshing change from the apathy I often faced in my everyday life.
The International Conference remains one of the most amazing experiences of my life. All of us were so inspired, but RESULTS gave us the tools to turn that inspiration into action. I learned how to make direct “asks” of my members of Congress, how to talk about complex government policies, and how to write media pieces on the issues I care about. In fact, since then I’ve seen my letters-to-the-editor get published (and republished) 26 times!
I also learned that, no matter what’s happening politically, I can’t lose hope.
Maybe I’ll have some meetings on Capitol Hill that don’t go well, maybe I’ll write a dozen pieces of media and none get published, and maybe our community of advocates will lose some hard-fought battles. But we still have to keep going, we still have to stay engaged, and we still have to do the work. It’s the only way forward.
I’ll never forget something speaker Tavis Smiley said at the International Conference last year: “You should love people just because.”
This quote moved me so much that I put it up on my wall at home. It’s a powerful reminder that every human being has value. I want to live in a world where everyone has access to a good education, enough nutritious food to eat, a safe place to live, and affordable medical care. I want to live in a world where everyone has a chance.
If you want to meet incredible advocates from all over the country (and the world!), if you want to learn new skills and sharpen the ones you have, and if you’re eager to take the issues you care about straight to your members of Congress on Capitol Hill, there is no better opportunity.
The International Conference changed my life, and I think it will change yours, too.
Do you know any passionate young people like Tiffany? RESULTS is looking for the next generation of activists and leaders to fight poverty at home and abroad. The REAL Change Organizing and Advocacy Fellowship is a hands-on training program for young people between the ages of 18–30. During the yearlong program, fellows learn how to work with the media, their communities, and policymakers to create change. We are now accepting applications for 2017-2018! APPLY HERE.