WILMINGTON — Nearly 500 young adults from across the U.S. recently gathered in Washington, D.C. to learn how to lobby their Congressional representatives and then take their lobby messages to Capitol Hill.
Wilmington College students have participated in Spring Lobby Weekend for more than two decades, often providing the largest number of lobbyists.
The event is sponsored by the Quaker lobby group Friends Committee on National Legislation, the largest peace lobby organization in Washington.
The theme changes from year to year, but always focuses on peace and justice issues. This year’s the focus was on supporting a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” — young, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
To prepare for visits to their Congressional representative’s offices, the students heard from experts on the topic and learned what is considered the friendly approach to lobbying. After two days of preparation they visited hundreds of offices, bringing their message of citizenship for the Dreamers.
A corollary to this message was “Why can we pour billions more into spending on border enforcement without doing anything for Dreamers?”
Upon their return from the lobby weekend students were asked to respond to the question: “If you were asked how the trip impacted you, how would you respond?” Following are some of their responses:
• “Spring Lobby Weekend has given me confidence in my skills as a leader, as a public speaker, and as someone who has power to advocate for the issues that matter most to me.”
• “I learned a lot about the trade craft of lobbying and I will be able to use this knowledge for my future career in politics.”
• “I felt empowered by the feeling of being heard. Even though we might have not affected their decision, it is amazing to exercise our rights.”
• “It impacted me a lot and it got me out of my comfort zone. I loved every minute of it and I would definitely do it again.”
• “I loved this trip. It really made everything we talked about in class come alive.”
• “It showed me a whole new way to look at issues, and really prompted me to pick up my political science major.”
These responses are typical of what students have had to say over the years.