Lobbying and Rebuilding Lost Connections
By: Ellie Ford
As technology became essential this year, lobbyists encountered the reality of a virtual world and what it would mean for Youth and Government. Lobbyists Areej Khan, Shruti Patel, Nawaal Butt, and Esha Aggarwal from the Lake Park High School delegation are working hard to adjust to the isolation and lost connections.
This year, lobbyists are faced with a new variation of an old issue: finding people to lobby for. Khan explains, “It’s even harder to lobby for a legislator and meet up with them … if you were in Springfield, you know, you just go up to them.”
Technology has allowed Youth and Government to take place this year, but it has also led to serious difficulties. Khan says, “The hardest thing was probably coordinating things via the Internet.” However, Butt sees an advantage to this virtual format: “I think the easiest thing this year is coming on time to your committees, being organized, and ready to speak.”
Many of the lobbyists see connections forming despite most participants being so far from each other. “As people, we’re all going through the same thing right now, so we all can connect in that manner,” Aggarwal says.
Patel feels that Zoom provides great opportunities, but it isn’t the same as in-person meetings. “I do feel connected. We had a real life lobbyist come in and talk to us.” However she continues to say, “Being on Zoom can take away the connection.”
In the future, Khan wants to keep the motivation from this year. “Something I’d like to keep is just that drive and determination to like keep going even in times like this.” Aggarwal has similar ambitions: “I really hope this experience teaches us to really value social interaction.”
Everyone has experienced the impacts of this virtual year, but the hope for the future is strong, and the pursuit of democracy through Youth and Government remains persistent.