On March 19th and 20th, Millersville students traveled to the capitol to participate in NAFSA’s Advocacy Day. This was the first year that Millersville participated in the event, sending one of our study abroad students, one of our international students, and a staff member from Global Education.
NAFSA: Association for International Educators is an organization for those involved with international education that has over 10,000 members worldwide. As an organization, they “believe that international education advances learning and scholarship, fosters understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is essential for developing globally competent individuals, and builds leadership for the global community.”
NAFSA’s Advocacy Day gives students and faculty involved in international education a chance to speak out for polices that matter within international education. Different schools around the country send representatives that then meet with their state’s elected officials in the House of Representatives and the Senate. These meetings give them an opportunity to talk about the important issues within international education and change they want to see.
Millersville University was one of few schools that brought students along to this event, providing great exposure to both our peer institutions and other institutions nationwide. Assistant Director of Global Education Olivia Cordero, who attended this event with the students, believes that this was a vital part of going to Advocacy Day. “The power is in the voice of the students” said Cordero. She thought that students should be the focal point in these meetings.
The Millersville students that attended this event were study abroad student Kiara Garcia and international student Gentil Kalisa. Kiara had previously studied abroad for a semester in Chile and Gentil is from Rwanda. Both students thought that this opportunity was an important one for them as students to experience.
“Having studied abroad last semester in Chile, this opportunity allowed me as one of the few student representatives to spread the value of study abroad and positively influence staffers of Pennsylvanian Congressmen and Representative” said Garcia. “I would highly recommend extending this opportunity to more Millersville students as these public matters can directly impact study abroad policies in the future.”
“As an international student, going to Capitol Hill and talking to lawmakers about how the policies they put in place affects me was an amazing experience. I was happy to learn that most of them had experienced what if feels like to be an International student or a scholar in a foreign country” said Kalisa. “We were able to talk about how International students and scholars not only contributes to the U.S economy or diversity, but also secure the U.S position as a world leader in science and technology. We also advocated for a more welcoming United States to both PA senators and to our district representative Lloyd Smucker. ”
After this experience, Global Education hopes to continue participating in this event with other students in the future. It is important to advocate for international education and its policies that make sure this opportunity is available to all students.