AYA Regional Director Pieter Hogoboom recently spent some time in Washington, D.C., to advocate for cultural exchange. He was accompanied by a representative from an AYA partner organization overseas. Together, they met with aides for Congressional representatives from the state of Connecticut, where AYA headquarters is located. Here’s what Pieter had to say about the experience:
I went to Capitol Hill on Friday, March 24th to meet with our state representatives. I first met with an aide for Jim Himes, along with another member of our partner organization in Turkey.
Representative Himes is the co-chair for the Congressional International Exchange and Study Caucus. We met with his aide, Justin Meuse, in order to request continued support and funding for international exchange programs like Academic Year in America. As Representative Himes is a big proponent of international exchange programs, we found agreement in our advocacy and no need to convince anyone of the importance of our programs.
After that visit, we met with an aide for Senator Chris Murphy and asked for his support. Again, we did not meet any problems or have to lobby for our cause very hard, as they also were in support of funding for international exchange programs.
Overall, the visit to Capitol Hill was amazing. It was great to see that congressional representatives from Connecticut supported funding for our programs and were open minded to what we had to say.
If you’ve participated with AYA or have made meaningful connections with AYA participants, you too can become an advocate for cultural exchange. A great way to share your support for AYA and other international exchange programs is to contact your local congressional representatives. Reach out to request support for the State Department’s J-1 Exchange Visitor Programs — like Academic Year in America, and let them know how international exchange has made an impact in your life.
Click here to learn more about Academic Year in America and important opportunities to share the best of life in the United States with international high school students.