Monday, March 28, 2011

If I Had A Trillion Dollars…

Last month five participants from the If I Had A Trillion Dollars Youth Video Contest went to Washington. Their videos - among almost 50 submitted - had received top honors from a panel of judges. We brought them to the nations capitol to meet with elected officials, policymakers, and the activist community to share their videos about how war spending could be better used on human needs. Their visit came days after the President submitted his budget for 2012.

Kyane Strother, Alia Holness, Anays Mercedes and Richardson Joseph from Boston and Briseida Montiel from the Bronx arrived in DC anxious, excited and nervous to be presenting their winning videos to Congress. After a lobby training at Friends Committee on National Legislation and a briefing on the federal budget from AFSC and NPP staff, they were ready to meet members of Congress and send their message of cutting the military budget.

After two congressional briefings at The Capitol and over 15 congressional office visits, the youth headed to the iconic Busboys and Poets coffeehouse in Washington DC. There, they met with DC-area youth and discussed the issues in their communities. Afterwards, the youth were honored and the winning videos were screened to an audience of nearly 100 people.

"I never expected to have my video shown to members of Congress and I never expected I would be in Washington DC," said 19-year old Briseida Montiel of Bronx, New York. Briseida found out about the video contest while participating in a young women's empowerment project at the Sadie Nash Leadership Project. Her video was the first this aspiring filmmaker had ever attempted to do. Now, Briseida is considering studying video production next year in college.

"We entered the video contest on a whim so it is amazing to have had this opportunity to share our video in DC," said Wesley Richardson, an adult mentor at Amplify Me, an after school media project in Boston.

"The most exciting part for me was getting offered an internship in Senator Kerry's office. It was amazing to be able to meet his staff in DC," said Alia Holness, a sophomore from Boston. Alia and the other youth from Boston had the opportunity to talk with staffers in their Senator's office as well as all their Congressman's office. Each staff member received a DVD of their winning video and information from AFSC and NPP on budget priorities.

To see the winning videos and find out more information on the "If I Had A Trillion Dollars" Youth Video Contest, click here.

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Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
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