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Advocacy Day 2019

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Max Salvo, Kathleen Mears and Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Marie Royce

CHI was a proud participant in Advocacy Day 2019 in Washington, D.C. Organized annually by the Alliance for International Exchange, the event was an opportunity for advocates from 44 member organizations to come together in the nation’s capital to meet with members of Congress and the Senate and jointly defend the policies and funding that are key to maintaining the positive impacts that exchanges bring to the U.S. and the world.

In a message addressing the group of advocates, the Alliance’s Executive Director Ilir Zherka stressed that “the international exchange community continues to face ongoing challenges at the national level, ranging from proposed severe budget cuts to potential program policy changes. Your participation throughout the next two days will help ensure Congress understands how exchange programs support the U.S.’s national security and strengthen our economy.”

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On Day 1, advocacy teams prepared to make the case for international exchanges to congressional offices by organizing in state teams and strategizing for each upcoming meeting. Staff from the Alliance also provided valuable insight into the work of congressional offices and the appropriations procedure, while also presenting a summary of important policy updates and industry news.

In the evening, Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Marie Royce, gave a keynote address at the Alliance’s congressional reception held on Capitol Hill, noting that “you cannot spell America without ECA” expressing her support for federal and privately funded exchange programs within the U.S. Department of State. Arkansas Congressman French Hill (R-AR 2nd district) also provided remarks highlighting the importance of exchange programs to members of Congress. Local DC Metro area host company representatives also joined CHI in exchanging views with attendees, including ECA and congressional staff.

The next day on Capitol Hill, CHI’s Public Affairs Officer Max Salvo and Community Support Specialist Kathleen Mears joined fellow international exchange advocates to meet with the offices of members of Congress, as part of a big push to drive our message in coordinated meetings with 140 congressional offices representing 38 states. 

For California our advocates met with staff members for Senator Kamala Harris (D) and Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA 2nd district). California is CHI’s home state and every year welcomes tens of thousands international students and exchange visitors in multiple regions and cities across the Golden State.

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Max Salvo (RT) meeting with staff members of Congressman Jared Huffman

In addition, CHI also met with the offices of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (D), as well as staff members of the newly elected Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ 11th district) and Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ 2nd district). New Jersey is home to a large number of international university students participating in the Summer Work and Travel each summer season, who are drawn to the popular summertime activities along the famous Jersey Shore. Our team expressed to congressional staff that local host companies partnering with CHI and prominent community members passionately support the continuation of exchange programs in their areas.

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Kathleen Mears (LT) meeting with the offices of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker
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Max Salvo and Kathleen Mears (LT) meeting with staff members of Congressman Jeff Van Drew

We asked our elected officials and their staff for their continued support for international exchange programs and the communities they support and benefit and thanked them for their leadership in protecting the valuable contribution of exchanges in Congress.

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