by Aja Watkins
I approached the GCE training with feelings primarily of curiosity, and of hope that I could now finally be initiated into the world of global education advocacy. To say the least, the experience exceeded my expectations: I returned with knowledge and an expanded world-view, but also with the realization that my voice can actually impact the world.
Upon returning from DC, I was also initiated into my duties as a Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School. I certainly have felt that I have an advantage as an advocate, because I better understand advocacy strategies including networking, authorship, contacting people in other groups or positions, and combining data and personal anecdotes to prove a point. These strategies are not unique to education-related issues, but will help me as I decide to advocate for other populations and other ends as well. I also, of course, returned grateful to have expanded and developed a talented network of individuals, frequently young, all concerned with the same cause.
However, the most valuable piece of wisdom that I gained was that I should not be hesitant to speak up and add my opinion to the preexisting social and political discussions of the world. In aspiring to be an international lawyer, I have often been worried that my own actions could never be enough to accomplish the change I want to see. A lesson implicit in the GCE advocacy training was that no change is accomplished without the cumulative force of advocates everywhere, regardless of age or experience. I remember taking notes during the training’s panels and highlighting the most inspiring or thoughtful instruction from the guests – with their help, I, too, now have this information, and will, most importantly, be able to use it effectively.
Photo Caption: Aja with fellow advocate Kim during a GCE-US training breakout session.