Tori Shamlian, Senior Layout Editor

This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the ACLU Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. This was a week-long symposium focusing on human rights and advocacy in government. What better place to do this than Washington, D.C.? The week began with focused sessions on specific topics with some amazing speakers. Such as,  Tommie Smith, an Olympian who brought light to the Black Power movement, and Edward Snowden, who was able to shed some light on what his thoughts are about national security and whistleblowing. The speakers were engaging and enlightening, but there was so much more to the program than simply hearing fantastic people speak. There’s a major emphasis on applying the knowledge you gain to make the world a better place. When I attended, the 900 students were broken up into “homerooms” of about 20 people, which facilitated smaller in-depth discussions and really getting to know other students that have come from across the nation, or even the world, to be in Washington. There are so many perks to being in the heart of Washington, D.C. Activities with the other students include trips to museums, the Capitol, the National Monument, and other relevant sights for young advocates. The capstone of the week is the final Friday when students are grouped by location in the country so they can lobby their local Senators, Representatives, or staff (of either) for an issue they’re passionate about their Congresspeople being aware of. After being able to talk to representatives, all 900 students gather outside of the Capitol for a rally, a true display of what activism is. The experience was extremely enriching and fun, so I highly recommend that other students apply to attend this upcoming summer by visiting the ACLU’s website.