Saturday, February 23, 2008


Did I ever tell you about the time I lobbied in Olympia? Well, once upon a time, two weeks ago, I skipped work and got on a coach bus and went to Olympia to support refugee and immigrant rights. Aren't I noble?

I've been volunteering with an organization for refugees, tutoring refugee and immigrant school kids (elementary through high school). I couldn't imagine being in their shoes, up against the odds they face.

I accompanied the youth program teachers on their visits to state senators. It was a disappointing experience. They were scheduled to meet with two senators, but both senators were MIA, so we had to meet with their lowly aides instead. We went in there with information sheets about what our organization would like to see (general changes in some laws, more funding for ESL programs in general, changes to WASL testing that would help immigrant students, etc) but the aides just wanted to know specific dollar amounts or bills to support.

"So, how much are you asking for?" they asked. "What bills are on the floor right now that you would like the senator to support?" They were speaking a different language from us, and missing the point. We wanted general change for the better, and they wanted specifics. It's a different world, politics.

It was also disheartening to hear this: "Well, these are things everyone supports, but no one wants to foot the bill." Or: "This isn't going to change in this session. Maybe a few years down the road." Reality checks suck. So do politicians. But I already knew that.

*Sigh.* What would Bono do? Or Paul Farmer? Paul Farmer would probably tell them that they were selfish a-holes and they need to change the way things work in the capitol dome. Bono would have more diplomacy, I'm sure.

1 comment:

  1. Go, not because you will be heard, but because it is right to speak up. I am so proud of you for going. Don't stop speaking up.