Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 4: Taking the Hill

"Are you ready to take the Hill?" asked Seattle youth leader, Paul Patu. And with that, the teams were off to practice their policy presentations. Then it was back to Capitol Hill.

Each of the teams had the opportunity to lobby their members of Congress and let their voices be heard today. This was the culmination of all their work for the past twenty weeks.

Jillian Eloby, second from left, tells of the gun violence in Chicago and the people she has lost, The Chicago delegation started their day with John Marshall, a member of Rep. Bobby Rush's staff. Each team member had written one recommendation and presented it. All the points touched on gun violence and how to combat that. Jillian Eloby talked about the deaths of people she knew. "It hurts my heart," she said. Later in the day, she told Barack Obama's representative that these incidences, "lit a fire in me."

When they finished, Mr. Marshall talked about the Can Do bill he has been working on for Rep. Rush. "A lot of your policy recommendations are going to be in our bill," he said. "We need the community to get involved and demand that this bill move forward." He challenged them, "We need leaders like you to step up." Then he finished with a compliment: "These are excellent policy recommendations."

DeAndria Harris, of Albany, Ga. stands in front of the Capitol Building.Members of the other teams expressed similar positive results. During a debrief time after dinner, each group got to talk about their experiences. Many mentioned being impressed that their representatives and senators would sit and talk to them.

Jonathan Amosa, of the Seattle delegation, said that the one of the biggest learnings he came away from his experience today was that, "Congressmen are people too." Someone with whom he and his friends could hold a conversation. "From beginning to end [of the day], it just seemed like God was on our side," Jonathan continued. "He's doing something."

Valerie Riccio, from West Virginia, exclaimed, "Today was amazing!" She confessed that at the beginning of the day she had felt extremely nervous but afterwards said, "It was the best experience I've ever had in my life. I really feel like I made a difference."

Jonathan Billips of Picayune, Miss. makes a point to Rep. Gene Taylor while teammate Hannah Alley listens.Gabe Hinojosa of Mississippi talked about what he wanted to say to his friends back home. "Now I can't wait to go back and tell them about this experience… It really is a real movement and it can be done. So I'm excited to voice that to my peers and get their support." He continued, "I’m very excited. I feel like we're about to march our seven times around the wall shouting. And we're about to see the walls come down."

Romanita Hairston, vice president of World Vision's U.S. Programs, told the delegates, "It was great to hear you all challenging your leaders." Then she talked about how the young people had affected the adults who work with them. "We are changed every moment we share with you."

Romanita discussed the future impact of the Youth Empowerment Project, "Ten years from now we will look back at these kids and these kids will be the ones who are leading our communities."

Laura Reinhardt, assignment editor for World VisionPosted by Larry Short on behalf of Laura Reinhardt in Washington D.C. Laura is Assignment Editor for World Vision in the United States and is currently on assignment at the Youth Empowerment Summit.

1 comment:

Kathi Gough said...

What an awesome experience for the youth participating in YEP! Thank you for sharing the insights and energy...and for coordinating the opportunities for meeting with our nation's leaders! Kathi