Write your Members of Congress
Write your Members of Congress in support of international exchange programs by following just a few easy steps. Personalize the letter before sending with a fact about why international exchange programs matter in your home district and state and/or an anecdote from your own abroad experiences. Focus on two main points:
- Exchanges have local impact—they matter at home and they matter to constituents.
- Exchanges provide a great "bang for our buck"—they are a minor investment that pays major dividends by increasing American economic competitiveness in the global economy and increasing U.S. national security.
Members of Congress need to hear directly from YOU, someone who provides leadership on exchanges in their district/state. As your work not only facilitates international exchange and engagement, but also drives academic advancement, business partnerships, and economic growth, your testimony on the specific presence and impact of exchanges in your community is a crucial component of the Raise Your Voice campaign.
Want to do more? Write a handcrafted letter!
Write a detailed and specific "handcrafted” letter that includes facts, statistics, dollar amounts, and programmatic outcomes specific to your state or community and may also include the signatures of others in your area who support or participate in exchanges
What do we mean by handcrafted letter?
We mean a letter that goes beyond general rhetoric and specifically details facts, statistics, dollar amounts, and programmatic outcomes. It is a letter that gets its start from the talking points suggested in the following pages, but that ultimately comes from you, detailing how exchange programs are valuable to your community, and are valued by constituents in your district and state.
Who should write a Handcrafted letter?
First and foremost, you, as a leader in the international exchange field in your community.
You may also wish to engage other leaders in your community to write their own letters, or add their signatures to yours. Look to your board members, your volunteer corps, and other nonprofit, business, and academic leaders who can speak from firsthand experience about the tangible benefits of exchange programs in your community.
How long should my letter be?
We recommend you keep your letter as concise as possible (while still making all your relevant points). No more than two pages, including signatures, is a good rule of thumb.
How do I submit my letter?
DO NOT send your letter by postal mail. Since 9/11, all mail sent to Capitol Hill goes through a complex security process that can delay delivery for weeks or longer.
Instead, FAX or EMAIL your letter. Most Congressional offices in Washington have systems in place to receive, catalogue, and respond to the constituent communications they receive via fax and email.
You should also send a copy of your letter to the Member’s district office.
To find your Members’ fax numbers and email addresses, it is best to visit their websites:
- Quick links to all Representatives’ websites can be found here: http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml
- Quick links to all Senators’ websites can be found here: http://senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
- To identify your Members of Congress, visit http://capwiz.com/alliance-exchange/dbq/officials/ and search by state, zip code, or name.
What should I include in my letter?
When thinking about the content of your handcrafted letter, consider the following questions:
- What is the most important economic impact of exchange in your district/state?
- If you had to prove the impact of the exchange programs in your district/state, what would you say?
- If a skeptic said international exchange programs are a waste of federal dollars, what would you say to prove that person wrong?
Some general talking points you may wish to consider in your letter include:
- Exchanges as a component of U.S. national security;
- Exchanges as a vital tool for increasing U.S. economic competitiveness;
- Exchanges help to prepare the next generation of leaders;
- Effectiveness of exchange programs through concrete data;
- The local impact of exchanges through compelling stories.
The following page contains some additional ideas of information you may wish to include in your handcrafted letter, as well as how you may wish to structure it.