It’s been said that politics is the downstream decision in democracy, and in America, it’s still that way. Even though the news media likes to paint politicians as megalomaniac, power hungry, narcissists; most people who are working in Washington DC do so because they have a vision of doing something to help.
With great sacrifice, thousands of people work for lower salary, away from their families, to figure out how to achieve that ‘something‘ inside them that drives them to help make America function. For some it’s about helping their neighbor back home, and for others it’s about continuing the history of this great nation at large.
And so…this week The KIVU Gap Year students are storming Washington DC learning what it means to have a voice in our democratic system.
A few years ago, we made friends with people involved in the Non-Profit work called Bread for the World. They main objective is to lobby for poverty and hunger around the globe.
So this morning, our students are meeting with Bread for the World, learning their mission, their lobby pitch, and then they’re going out to meet with each of their own House Representatives and Senators to talk about the need for America to make efforts to use the food production bandwidth to help the hungry.
This week is important for 3 major reasons
1. It gives students a voice
So many people have become disenfranchised with government because they feel they’re voice doesn’t matter. They feel like government is run by money, ego, and people who are trying to become famous.
What we find is, when younger people initiate with a Congressional Office, nearly 80% of the time, the members are open to meeting with the students personally. They are interested in knowing what a new generation is thinking, and what issues that capture they’re attention.
So when a students sits with his or her congressional member to show they want to have a voice in a particular issue in the world; something changes. They feel like they can actually be a part of the government system, which is what makes America great.
2. Raising the Bar on Emotional Intelligence
It’s one thing to actually help students be a part of think-tanks or conferences; but if you want to show students how to engage with leadership of countries, companies, or any professional organization; it’s important to raise their emotional intelligence.
Students need to know how to dress for interviews, how to talk with leaders, and how to present themselves for their mission. Of course each environment changes the need, but for most teenagers; they don’t know what it means to be at a meeting at 8:00 a.m., alert, dressed in suit and tie, to present and issue on their mission!!
For our program, being in Washington DC is an opportunity to show students how to adapt to an environment most of them know very little about.
3. Connecting to the System
Look, you may think that it’s possible to ‘Lone Ranger’ your way through life and pull yourself up by your bootstraps. But the stark reality we all need to learn is; there are times to swim against the stream of the system, and times to learn what it means to connect to the system.
The way American Democracy works is strategically systematic. There are rules for the ways the government runs policies for each one of us who call ourselves citizens of The United States of America.
So when we provide a vehicle for students to connect with the way government works, it expands their worldview. It gives them a place to know their voice is valuable. And ultimately, it helps create space for exploration for those who may want to engage in politics or leadership in the future.
Here’s to a day on Capital Hill. I’m sure you’ll be ready to hear some incredible stories from our students today. Be sure to check out the Facebook page for The KIVU Gap Year.
Hang on…There’s much more coming.