Four Clark University students traveled to Capitol Hill recently to participate in NAFSA (Association of International Education) Advocacy Day, an annual event devoted to educating members of Congress about how international education impacts states and districts, and why it's important to have a more globally engaged United States.
Eriberto Mora '17 of Worcester, Connor Ruby '15 of Stow, Themal Ellawala '17 of Sri Lanka and Wandong Yang '16 of Singapore, traveled to Washington, D.C., with Patricia Doherty, director of the International Student and Scholars Office and met with staffers at the offices of Congressman Jim McGovern, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey and Congresswoman Katherine Clark to share their personal experiences while studying abroad, and to express their support for immigration reform and international education.
Ruby, a political science major, mentioned he studied abroad in Germany and volunteered in a refugee center there.
"At the end of the project, my fellow volunteers told me I was very different from how they had expected Americans to be," he said.
Mora, a sophomore and psychology major, said, "Sharing my personal story with Congressional staffers was definitely a life-changing experience that I will never forget. I got the chance to be a resource, an educator, and most importantly an advocate for immigration reform and study abroad."
International student Wandong Yang said, "One thing that I really appreciated was how forthcoming and honest [the aides] were. They shared their opinions regarding the current situation in Congress and how that would affect the chances of passing these bills and also acknowledged the obstacles ahead of us."
Doherty says she enjoys accompanying Clark students on the trip every year.
"Advocacy Day provides them with a tremendous opportunity to engage with our elected representatives and their staff about issues that are important to them," she said. "It shows students that our lawmakers are accessible, and that it is possible to influence change, and to champion a cause they feel passionate about."
NAFSA was founded in 1948 as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers to promote the professional development of U.S. college and university officials responsible for assisting and advising the 25,000 foreign students who had come to study in the United States after World War II. In May 1990 the membership formally renamed the organization NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark's pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark's faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University's motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.