Group photo of some of the students and staff who helped make No Lost Generation Advocacy Day a success (Rashidah McCoy/Jesuit Refugee Service)
On October 3, JRS/USA partnered with No Lost Generation student groups from Georgetown University, George Washington University, and American University for an Advocacy Day that included meetings with key congressional policymakers on Capitol Hill. The No Lost Generation Student Initiative brings together student leaders, humanitarian workers, and public and private sector employees to work towards the education and well-being of children and youth impacted by conflicts.
More than 40 advocates participated, representing 36 congressional districts from 20 different states. Participants focused on three main policy recommendations: opposing cuts to humanitarian assistance in the FY19 and FY20 budgets, supporting critical funding for refugee education through the Education Cannot Wait initiative, and raising the FY19 refugee ceiling from the recently announced 30,000 to at least 75,000.
JRS/USA’s Director of Advocacy and Operations Giulia McPherson helped to organize the Advocacy Day and provided resources, talking points, and policy briefs. “We were thrilled to partner with the No Lost Generation Student Initiative for this joint Advocacy Day, at a time when policymakers need to hear from their constituents about the importance of maintaining U.S. leadership on refugee protection issues,” she said.
Participants came prepared to dispel myths about refugee resettlement and speak to the importance of education in conflict situations. “Legislators from both sides of the aisle were receptive and engaged with what we had to say and took a genuine interest in hearing how we felt. I learned that even fifteen minutes can be enough to help change someone’s perspective, which is why this dialogue and advocacy on the Hill is essential to this cause,” noted Camile Torres, a senior at American University and student advocate from NLG American University.
The commitment of constituents to advocacy is crucial to paving a path towards refugee assistance and empowerment. Inaya Ahmed, a freshman at George Washington University, stated that “I believe that Advocacy Day served as a vital reminder to our Congress members of the obligation to not just maintain the freedom of Americans within U.S. borders, but to also extend our goodwill to those suffering abroad.”
JRS continues to build on its mission to support refugees by giving a voice to their experiences in refugee camps, in classrooms, and in the offices of policymakers. Thank you to all the students and community members who took the time to advocate for the rights of refugees and forcibly displaced persons around the world.
Want to advocate for the rights of refugees in your community? Take a look here to get started and write a letter to your representative today!