Exploring Washington DC
Coming from eight states, one Canadian province, and 10 different Girls Inc. affiliates, TAC members traveled from near and far to come to Washington, DC. For many, it was their first visit to the nation’s capital. In addition to experiencing the federal government in action, the TAC explored various museums and DC sights. Touring the White House, Georgetown University, the National Museums of African and Asian Art, and Renwick Gallery allowed the teens to gain a multidimensional view of the city, its history, and their place within it.
The TAC had the opportunity to meet with James Habyarimana, the Provost Distinguished Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. He told them about the new undergraduate degree in public policy and gave them a glimpse of college life, liberal arts programs, and Georgetown University.
The TAC rounded out the Fly-in by engaging in a virtual meeting with Girls Inc. President and CEO, Stephanie J. Hull. The teens openly discussed their takeaways from the Fly-in and their yearlong TAC experience, and they also shared their aspirations for implementing positive change in their respective communities. TAC members expressed valuable insights about what they believe adults should understand about their generation – the leaders of today.
“I’ve learned that there are current movements to change the issues that I see in my community, and that I can be a part of them.” Trinity of Girls Inc. of Chattanooga said. “The representatives and congressional staff want to hear what we have to say, especially as young people.”
This year’s TAC cohort not only gained experience advocating at the federal level, but they also left DC with insights for how they can also apply their passion and skills to their local communities.
Maleah, from Girls Inc. of Central Alabama, expressed her gratitude for the transformative experience in DC. “I had a lot of fun interacting with the city. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here – from walking around DC, paying attention to the streets, going to different places. This fly-in has given me space to interact with people and things that I could not have had back home,” Maleah said. “When I was speaking with Ms. Thompson, I mentioned that I live in a food desert. She said that I should bring this to my local representatives, as it is a real issue that they can address. With her encouragement, I will bring this back to my community and make a difference. There are many issues that I care about, and now I’m motivated to do something about them.”
“This fly-in really helped me to put the whole year into perspective. When I do things in my community, they feel short-term and like they’re only helping a specific group of people for a moment,” Bansi of Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta said. “Lobbying on this scale to people with this power felt long-term and like it could make a difference for many others – and now I’m inspired to do it again and again.”
Jasleen of Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region emphasized that her main takeaway was “to have confidence in my voice because it’s more powerful than I thought. Any small thing that I do will actually go a long way.”
The TAC has now returned to their respective communities, equipped with the necessary skills and renewed motivation to create change in their communities and beyond. Witnessing the TAC members’ confidence in their advocacy skills and in themselves grow during the Fly-in was a reminder of exactly why Girls Inc. does this work. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to uplift our new generation of leaders and learn from them, as well.