A Once in a Lifetime Journey: Our Young Leaders Went to D.C. To Meet Congress, Witness Supreme Court Ruling on Roe, and Learn Through Experience
"Building strong, engaged, and inspiring leaders requires more than a classroom," said Faizan Syed, Executive Director of CAIR-TX. "Real-life experiences are essential for deep understanding and to build strong activism."
Alhamdulillah, on the last week of June CAIR-Texas Austin & DFW brought 13 passionate Muslim teenagers and 5 dedicated parents with us to experience how our Nation's Capitol works.
Our "home base" in D.C. was the CAIR National headquarters, located just a couple of blocks from the U.S. Congress Building. Here, students got to meet and learn from CAIR staff such as national government affairs manager Robert McCaw and legal assistant Ahmad Kaki, who explained how CAIR defends and represents the Muslim community in the courts and in the offices of our elected officials. They also had the amazing opportunity to meet CAIR national director and co-founder Nihad Awad, who gave an inspiring talk and Q/A session on the importance of Muslim engagement in the American political system.
In all, our youth delegates met with over a dozen legislative offices throughout the week, including those of senators John Cornyn, Bernie Sanders and representatives John Carter & Colin Allred. In these meetings, they advocated for issues ranging from gun reform to the Afghan Adjustment Act, and it was amazing to see them become more confident and assertive as they realized how easy it can be to connect with the men and women who make decisions that impact us all as Americans. Students also got to personally meet representative Ilham Omar, and even bumped into senator Ted Cruz outside his office.
We had a busy few days on the hill, but our D.C. trip wasn't all "work"! Our team also got to tour the U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress, see iconic monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, as well as visit some of the incredible Smithsonian museums located in our nation's capitol. Most important of all, young people from different grades, cities, and schools came together to form enduring friendships that will last beyond the five short days that we spent together in D.C. Several of the students who joined us even said that they are now inspired to seek careers or internships in government in the future based on their experiences this past week.
The education and inspiration of Texas Muslim youth is one of our greatest missions at CAIR-Texas, and it was truly an honor to have such an incredible group of dedicated young leaders join us for our 2022 D.C. trip. With COVID-19 restrictions easing around the country, we eagerly look forward to returning to D.C. next year for another life-changing youth trip!
Young Leaders Testimonials
The CAIR-Texas Washington D.C. trip was a life-changing experience through which I gained knowledge and built long-lasting connections. I practiced lobbying, which showed me that reaching the government to discuss issues is much easier than I anticipated. Visiting Washington, D.C. with CAIR-Texas was an amazing way to experience D.C. and develop oneself through the experience.
The DC Trip was honestly such an amazing experience, both educationally and in terms of fun! Throughout the week, we were able to meet up with numerous congressional officers, and then later on tour different museums and buildings even of our choice. I feel like I genuinely may have made a difference, even if small. If I had the chance to go a second time, I wouldn't hesitate to go on this trip again.
The 2022 Summer D.C. Trip with CAIR was truly a rare opportunity to meet with my local representatives and senators to discuss specific issues affecting my community. I never knew that it was so simple to get my ideas out there and heard, and I was able to accomplish that through this trip. It gave me a glimpse of a future where I could be a leader in the Muslim community.
As a parent chaperone I had five goals I hopes CAIR could accomplish:
1-Safety 2-Collaboration 3- Training 4-Autonomy 5- Exploration
As a parent chaperone I was amazed:
- At all times the participants had an adult with them. The adult was committed to being present and ensuring every point, and every place the student groups were safe.
- The students worked together on deciding what topics they would bring to the representatives and who would discuss what.
- The students were taught how to make appointments with their representatives, practiced what to say, and coached each other on how to improve.
- The students had direct say in how the meeting would be conducted. Each had their own style and each was accepted. The students felt empowered and post meeting reviews were beneficial in reflecting, improving, and celebrating.
- The students experienced Washington representatives in an entirely new light. They were able to see in a tangible way they could be change makers in the future. They also enjoyed the experience, bonding and exploring a whole part of history and feel they too are part of what makes this country great.
Thank you for an amazing experience as a chaperone and parent.