Dept. of Treasury is the last stop on the 2015 Tour!

After 8 days, the 2nd Annual Citizenship Tour came to an end today, but not before a final great meeting at the Department of Treasury. Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Amias Gerety gave us a financial literacy lesson this morning during our roundtable. We got a glimpse into how the economy works and were encouraged to think deeply about how we handle our own personal finances. What a great way to cap the Tour – thanks, Amias!photo (1)

Student Reflection: Kevin Le

Kevin Le of the Access Youth Academy program in San Diego had lots to share about our meeting today with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Read about Wesleyan-bouIMG_8763nd Kevin’s thoughts on our discussion with the Secretary below!

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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s meeting with our group taught me a lot about the role of education in our society. From school food to equal access to quality education, our meeting gave me a lot to think about education’s role in our society today.

Growing up, I went to a charter school known as the Preuss School UCSD. Having this opportunity to be a student at the Preuss School allowed me to enroll into college because of its small population and college bound system where the students have easy access to a single college counselor. My other friends in other public schools barely got the chance to meet their counselor due to the insanely large amount of people in their class.

I realize that I have been blessed with the opportunity to go to the Preuss School. My position right now has been all due to a lottery pick, which is what charter schools use in order to select their students. This resonates with me because I know that it is really difficult to enroll in these types of schools because of their highly selective system and process. This fact makes me more motivated to become engaged in our society and try to help fight for education for all. I am very grateful for having an education at Preuss and this compels me to work harder at Wesleyan next fall so that the work I’ve done at Preuss will have paid off and to show the school what they worked for.

Duncan’s meeting made me feel more inspired to work hard to make sure hat everyone gains the education they deserve in the future. Nobody’s education should be determined by a lottery pick.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Hears our Views on Education

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This afternoon, Secretary of Education Duncan met with our group to hear the urban squash student perspective on the state of education today. This session was a part of the ongoing “Student Voices” series at the Department in which students engage with the Secretary and senior staff members to help develop recommendations on current and future education programs and policies.

We asked a ton of questions and gave Secretary Duncan an inside look on the challenges, successes and future recommendations to improve schools in our nation. With our common background in athletics and a passion for sports, the Tour had much to bond with Secretary Duncan!

White House Meetings for 2015 Citizenship Tour

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Obama watch out! Our group made an inspiring trip to the White House this morning for a tour of the East Wing and to meet with Michael Smith and Felicia Escobar. Smith is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother’s Keeper at the White House. He spoke to us about the exciting programming involved in My Brother’s Keeper, a federal initiative to help young men of color access equal opportunities. We later spoke with Felicia Escobar, the Special Assistant to the President for Immigration Policy to hear about the different federal task forces involved in bringing about reform.

A special thanks to Abbie McDonough for helping to set up these White House meetings!

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Senators Gillibrand, Heitkamp, and Franken Meet Tour by Day; Metropolitan Club Reception Greets 2015 Tour by Night

Day 6 on the Tour surely carried the most star power! After checking out the Supreme Court and riding the underground subway to the Capitol Building, we were able to meet with 3 US Senators. We first chatted about equal pay IMG_8611
for women with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota stopped by at lunch to speak about his transition from comedian to politician (and take some silly photos!). Our afternoon concluded with a fascinating talk with Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota on agricultural and food industry concerns in our nation.

The evening was incredibly special as we celebrated the 2nd Annual Citizenship Tour with our supporters at the Metropolitan Club. It was so nice to mingle and share some of our stories from the Tour! A huge thank you to Willie Gaynor, who made the event possible, and for all who came to show their urban squash enthusiasm.

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Congressman Cummings Addresses 2015 Tour at SquashWise Baltimore

The Tour met its first Congressperson today in Baltimore! SquashWise and the Meadow Mill Athletic Club hosted our Tour stop with speaking guest of honor Congressman Elijah Cummings. A U.S. Representative of Maryland’s 7th congressional district since 1996, Congressman Cummings gave a passionate speech and urged us to make the most of our potential. “You have been chosen,” he told us. “Whatever it is that you believe is stopping you from being all you can be, you need to change that right now.”

We then drove to Washington D. C., our final destination on the Citizenship Tour. The hot and humid temperatures didn’t slow us down as we went monument sightseeing and in the evening, documented our experiences in our journal on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What a day!

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Goodbye NYC, Hello Philadelphia!

The Tour woke up in New York City this morning and will go to sleep in Philadelphia tonight! In a continuation of our conversation about immigration, we took the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island this morning. We think our photo gives Lady Liberty a run for her money! After lunch in Battery Park, our group hit the road to Philadelphia where we arrived at Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies vs. Marlins game. Thanks to the generosity of SquashSmarts Executive Director Steve Gregg and SquashSmarts Board Member Tom Mashek, we were able to get on the field and meet World Series Champion 1st baseman Ryan Howard, 6-time All Star 3rd baseman Chase Utley, and other Phillies. To cap off the unforgettable evening, we watched the game from a VIP suite and cheered the Phillies on to a 3-1 victory!

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City Hall, 9/11 Museum, NY Times Building, and Stonewall Inn fill Tour’s 2nd Day!

What a whirlwind day in New York City! Our morning started off with a reflection on immigration reform with NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal. We then took in the experience of the 9/11 Museum and Memorial – very powerful! After lunch in midtown, the Tour had a terrific meeting at the New York Times Building where we met with Rachel Abrams, Danielle Ivory, Ken Belson and Hilary Stout. Our busy day concluded with dinner, ice cream, and an important visit to the Stonewall Inn to discuss the birthplace of the LGBT movement. Off to Philadelphia tomorrow!

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2015 Citizenship Tour Kicks Off in NYC!

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16 urban squash students from 10 different cities arrived in NYC to begin our 2nd Annual Citizenship Tour!

First-day highlights include squash at the Harvard Club, discussions with StreetSquash Executive Director George Polsky and New York Times journalist David Segal, and a pizza picnic in Bryant Park with NUSEA Executive Director Tim Wyant. We can’t wait for day two!

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