Advocacy Day is hosted by the Alliance for International Exchange as “a distinct opportunity for Alliance members to come together and educate Members of Congress about the value of international exchange in their respective districts and states.”
Day 1 of this two-day event focuses on educating attendees on the nuts and bolts of advocacy work as well as the challenges facing the Educational and Cultural Exchange programs designated by the State Department. The evening reception is spent networking with one another and learning about the international exchange work of other Alliance members. This year, speakers included Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and French Hill, a U.S. Representative from Arkansas. They each spoke highly of the value of cultural exchange and the international exchange programs that promote it across the U.S.
On Day 2, attendees were broken up by state into groups of two to four. Christina joined “Team Illinois” in meeting with various staff members of Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, and Rep. Danny K. Davis. At these meetings, Team Illinois spoke with staffers about international exchanges and ways that the Members of Congress can support the work of educational and cultural exchanges. Staff members were invited to local celebrations for Exchange Day, which will take place August 5, 2019.
("Team Illinois": Christina from Spirit, Bonnie from Greenheart, and Russ from Hostelling International)
Overall, the staff members were supportive of international exchange programs, understanding the value that international exchange brings to the economy and to national security.
This is the sixteenth year that the Alliance has organized Advocacy Day for its members, and Spirit is grateful to have been part of this event for the fifth year in a row.
Special thanks to the Alliance for International Exchange, and especially Ilir Zherka and Sue Yang, for organizing such an educational and enjoyable event!
Interested in learning more about advocacy for international exchange? Click here for resources!