by Aditi Chatradhi and Vedya Konda
“Let us pray for peace, and let us bring it about, starting in our own homes,” Pope Francis once stated. That day he proclaimed that we should spot the complicated puzzles in our own homes and communities and find a way to glue the pieces together. This caught our attention, the students of Archbishop Mitty High School and members of the Mitty Advocacy Project (MAP), and we knew that we had to find a way to solve the burning problems in our community.
In preparation for our trip to the Capitol building to lobby for bills that we believed were extremely significant, we discussed four major issue in our society; human trafficking, the wage gap, criminal justice reform and housing. As we practiced our lobbying skills through mock legislative meetings and developed our understanding of the bills and issues through research, the team felt prepared for what was to come. Despite our preparation,however, we were still a bit nervous since it was the first legislative meeting for many of us. The juniors and seniors gave us inspiring and encouraging talks about their experiences, so our nerves transformed into eagerness.
Upon arriving at Sacramento, we first went to the cathedral across from the Capitol Building. After an enlightening mass preached by our own teacher, Mr. Herrera, Jacob Isaacs, the MAP president, delivered a magnificent manifesto detailing his own experiences with advocacy. Sophie Sharma then introduced the series of workshops where high school students from across California presented issues and bills that could help solve some major problems in our community. Austin Walsh and Aditi Chatradhi started it off by conducting a workshop about the wage gap. They gave a presentation and held an activity where they conveyed what the wage gap is and how it affects the entire population of America. Vedya Konda, Da Sol Kim, Catherine Peterson, Elizabeth Ericksen, and Brandon Milliken spoke about human trafficking and its impact on young people, how human trafficking rates had gone up in northern California due to the Super Bowl, and how young people can protect themselves and spread awareness about the issue.
Fully prepared for the legislative meetings, we went to the Capitol Building for our first session. Splitting up into groups of three, we went to the offices of Jim Beall, Evan Low, and Kansen Chu to advocate for the issues we believed needed to be solved as soon as possible. The groups that finished early also had a chance to watch the assembly and senate meeting sessions in motion. Finally, wrapping up the trip, we took a quick tour of the Capitol building and traveled back home.
This trip has definitely reformed our perspective on politicians and what they do. Advocating for the wage gap and human trafficking bills in particular has brought us to realize that the legislative system is in fact working to create and enforce change for the better. To summarize, this youth advocacy trip has not only led us to learning about the legislative system, but it has led us to have a stronger faith in advocacy.