Small fish in a big pond! That’s what I felt when I did my congressional visitations at the ACTE National Policy Seminar (NPS)! I have been interested in politics since high school, I watch all of the political shows and movies, and even thought (for a brief moment) about getting into politics myself. Nevertheless, meeting one-on-one with my senator and congressmen was something I never thought I would be doing.
Before coming to the ACTE NPS, I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous about my congressional meetings, because I didn’t feel I was prepared to advocate for ALL CTE issues at a national level! Much to my relief, the workshops and sessions at the NPS really prepared me with what I needed to know for my visits, a clear vision of purpose, and that wonderful binder full of every resource I would need! I was ready to go! I really needed all the preparation I could get. I am the only one attending the NPS from Hawaii, which means I was on my own for all of my meetings!
Although the majority of my meetings were with legislative assistants, I did have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with one of my senators. I’m glad it was my last meeting out of the four I had scheduled. I felt much more prepared by then. She had tough questions for me, but I felt like I did a good job in answering them.
Capitol hill is a big place with many powerful people and everyone is scrambling to get time with them. I felt I was just one person, with one issue, and there were so many others just like me with important issues that they wanted to make sure that their congressman or senator was aware of. It’s tough to stand out and make that impression, but I learned that if you don’t speak up, you will never be heard!
The ACTE NPS was an eye-opening experience for me. I have never before dealt with CTE issues at the national level and never met one-on-one with a senator to discuss CTE. It was also very interesting to learn how CTE is run in other states. I had no idea we were all structured so differently. Through this experience, I learned so much and grew so much as a teacher and CTE advocate. I look forward to bring back my experiences to my state and campus!