My Experience on Capitol Hill
For all of you that haven’t been to Washington, DC, the home of our federal government and pretty much any “National Museum of ____” you could think of, it’s an awesome city. Recently, I traveled there for the second of my Youth Leadership Team meetings, and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go to Capitol Hill and meet with Congressman Ackerman (D-NY) and Senator Schumer (D-NY), as well as their staff.
If you didn’t already know, Capitol Hill is not just the Capitol Building (the big white building with the domed roof), but rather the whole central area of DC. The night before, I had found Capitol Hill also referred to a bunch of offices in the surrounding area, rather than simply the big white domed building. At first, this seemed like a really unfortunate situation (to put my feelings in nice terms). In addition, I found that there was a very good chance, as in an incredibly high possibility, that I wasn’t going to actually talk to my representatives directly. That also bothered me. Nevertheless, the following morning I was up for the opportunity to lobby (or to talk intending to influence) my representatives by promoting the funding of the OAH Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.
In the morning, I was on my way. I had two scheduled appointments, both in buildings with old-people-sounding names. I got to my first destination, the building where Congressman Ackerman resided, where I first waited in the cafeteria. As a start, I was so surprised not only because I was the only teenager in the vicinity (no other YLT members were around) but also because the cafeteria was the nicest cafeteria I’ve ever seen. To keep it short, it had very comfortable chairs, and it was very well carpeted. This cafeteria made a joke out of my school’s new cafeteria, which was built this year.
After, I went to Rep. Ackerman’s office, where I talked with a very kind and well-spoken member of his staff. The man was on the same page as I was in regards to continuing to fund the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which made me feel pretty good about myself. Afterwards, I was able to speak with the Congressman himself for a short amount of time, and he also favored the continual funding of the prevention program. What startled me was he wore a flower on his jacket, and I know he always wears one; however, I regret not having the guts to ask him why he wore it.
Then, I went to the building where Senator Schumer’s office stands. Strangely enough, the building was surprisingly modern (or at least modern to all of the other government buildings in the District of Columbia). At Senator Schumer’s office, I also spoke to a lovely member of his staff, but I was never able to meet the man himself. Nevertheless, everyone I spoke to wanted to continue funding pregnancy prevention programs around the nation.
Now at home reclining on my living room couch while on my computer and watching basketball, I miss the outstanding experience of feeling like a mature adult. I was able to state my view on the important issue of teen pregnancy to the people that truly help make a difference nationwide. However, I still enjoy being a teenager, who doesn’t need to worry about being in the adult world just yet.
Members of the Youth Leadership Teamvisit Washington, DC three times a year. On their second visit, they attend meetings on Capitol Hill to meet with their Congresspeople and to educate them about teen pregnancy prevention. This is Ben's story of his visit to the Hill. The next Youth Leadership Team class will be recruited starting in February 2013; keep checking StayTeen.org for more info!
Ben is 15 and from Port Washington, New York. He is a member of The National Campaign’s Youth Leadership Team. If his name looks familiar, it’s probably because he was one of this year’s Color War captains. He led Chartreuse’s victory over Aqua in the brightest battle since 2009’s of Beige vs. Taupe. Have a question for Ben? Email us!
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