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Teaching an old dog, new tricks – Connecting our World through Armchair Advocacy

advocating for legislation that benefits study abroad and semester at sea
Lobby your representatives without leaving the house

As the Chair of NAFSA Region XI, I was one of about 100 individuals that attended the annual Advocacy Day in Washington DC this spring.

Advocacy Day is a day where NAFSA members learn to lobby for the issues affecting education abroad and inbound international students.    The first day is an orientation.     Armed with our “issue briefs” we fanned out across the Hill for our meetings in the Senate and Congress the next morning.

The Connecticut freshman Senators office is in the basement of the senate building.   Cramped and hot, it felt more like a sweat shop.   We ended up meeting in the cafeteria.   As soon as I introduced myself, everyone wanted to know more about Semester at Sea and I found I had to interrupt so I could get the time to lobby for the issues I had been prepped on the first day.

I left D.C. feeling much better about our government.     I was determined to not let my one day be the only day that I actively advocate.   And that is how I found out about Connecting our World.

NAFSA knows not everyone can go to Washington and they have developed an incredibly useful website -

Connecting our World is a site where you can register for free and anytime there is a legislative issue involving study abroad or international education a notification is sent to you by email.    You then have the option to send a letter to your legislators.   If you desire you can modify the letter or  submit the form letter.    It also allows you to forward the letter to friends or colleagues.    This website was effective in helping turn the White House last year to remove the barriers to study abroad in Cuba.    It works!

I’ve found that when I submit a letter if I add a personal note to the form letter I get a response from that office.   When I do send a letter I am acting as a private citizen.    I don’t mention my Semester at Sea as I am not representing ISE.

If you would like to learn more about NAFSA or Connecting our World, please feel free to contact me.

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