Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ACT Locally - Attend an August Town Hall Meeting in Support for International Education

This IHEC Blog post is a copy and paste job (with permission) from an e-mail message I received from Kari Lantos, Manager of Grassroots Outreach at NAFSA: Association of International Educators, as I’m registered for NAFSA’s Advocacy Centered Team (ACT).

Mark your calendar and attend a town hall meeting during the summer district work period, August 4 - September 7! Throughout August, members of Congress will be in their home state to meet with constituents and learn more about local issues. This is your opportunity to meet your members of Congress at local events and discuss the significance of international education within your state and district that they represent.

While the idea of approaching your elected officials may seem daunting, it is quite simple (see 10 Strategies below) and extremely important in order to provide further information on the benefits of having international students in your community and sending local students to study abroad. An excellent example of a NAFSA member's participation in a town hall meeting is as follows:

In 2008, Dr. Susan Steen, Director of, International Education at the University of Southern Mississippi, attended a town hall meeting with Senator Roger Wicker. When she had the opportunity to speak to Senator Wicker, she asked a question about his level of support for international education, but more specifically, the Simon Study Abroad bill. She found that not only was he supportive of study abroad but his son was studying in China at that time and both of his daughters had had the opportunity to study abroad. After the town hall meeting, Susan contacted NAFSA to share her feedback from the event. Earlier this year, NAFSA was looking for a Republican Senator to serve as the lead cosponsor on the Simon Study Abroad bill and immediately thought of Senator Wicker. Susan contacted his office on behalf of NAFSA, and reminded his staff of the conversation from last summer. Susan provided information on study abroad statistics along with some anecdotal stories from the state and was able to get Senator Wicker to sign on as the lead Republican cosponsor of the bill. Had Susan not attended this town hall meeting, we would not have known Senator Wicker's level of support and commitment to getting the Simon Study Abroad Act enacted.

When meeting your legislators, you should share personal stories about your international and study abroad students and the life changing experiences they have had, relevant data (such as the
Economic Impact Statements or Study Abroad Participation by State) and positive outcomes in your community as a result of having access to the world through student exchanges. Even better, take an international or study abroad student with you when you attend the event, giving the member of Congress a face to associate with the issue.

If you would like to receive notification of a town hall meeting in your district/state, please register for NAFSA’s Advocacy Centered Team (ACT)

Prepare to attend a local event -- 10 Strategies for Using Congressional Town Hall Meetings to Advance your Legislative Agenda.
(Source: Knowlegis)

Kari Lantos
Manager, Grassroots Outreach
NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Sod photo credit: Dan4th


  1. nice job . . related to education is helpfu l l . . volunteer programs in ghana

  2. Hi,
    Good to hear about the town hall meeting. Thanks for the information.