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Arriving in Washington, DC

Posted on 03/27/2011 @ 01:17 PM

Today we flew into DC. Everyone started out in one room and it was awkward at first. Later when we began to mingle with people, we met people from across the country. It was fun pointing out peoples' accents and talking to them about our culture from where we live compared to where they live. The guest speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless really impacted us and our opinions on how we view people in society. Although we are all exhausted, it is evident how much this trip is going to affect our lives for the better.

Bradyn McLean, Wisconsin Region BBYO

If you thought they would take it easy on us the first day, you were sorely mistaken. Immediately, everyone was forced to mingle and socialize, and were asked the hard questions right off the bat. Our first text study about the origin of our names opened up our eyes on how we need to view ourselves, and the ice breaker introduced the major themes of the seminar - education, and the Middle East. The guest speakers from the National Coalition for the Homeless really set a precedent for the rest of the week - as teens we are the leaders of today and we need to make positive changes in the world. The madrichim (support staff from local universities) were very knowledgeable resources and leaders who shared a lot about the city of Washington, DC, and about life. Although Obama didn't make a guest appearance during our visit to the White House, the White House can still stand alone with its history and power. Even if we were all tired, it is clear how much of an impact this trip could have on our views of the world as a whole, and on each of our individual communities.

Samantha Zacher, Wisconsin Region BBYO

The first major program we experienced was a panel and Q&A with Steve and John from the National Coalition for the Homeless, who taught us about current issues for the homeless community, ways that we can help change the system, and how we should interact with homeless people we encounter. After that session we walked to the White House. The walk was nice in the cool air. When we arrived I was surprised by how small the White House was. It looks bigger on TV. After we returned back to the hotel we met with the staff from our home community. They previewed the remainder of the seminar, particularly focusing on our upcoming visits to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, when we'll have the opportunity to lobby our members of Congress.

Kenny Coulter, Congregation B'nai Israel, Orange County, CA

Today we listened to formerly homeless people form the National Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy organization focused on addressing both the causes and symptoms of homelessness. It was really, really interesting, and a lot of people were crying after they spoke. Steve's story was especially touching, and I'm sure it made people re-think the way they saw and treated homeless people.

Tiffany Rafael, Congregation B'nai Israel, Orange County, CA

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