Advocating for something that matters to you is an act of personal definition. As educators, every one of us has the opportunity and the instinctive drive to help others achieve broader and deeper understanding. By definition, educators are perfect advocates! Yet our voices are often muffled by the layers of bureaucracy and the pressures of requirements in our daily work. So how do we find a way to highlight multilingualism as a pivotal characteristic of our nation? What must we do and say and show to help others see this?
Working together is the key. The true impact of advocacy is seen when we activate our collective voice and speak one clear language. We align the way we talk, the tools and words we use, and we designate a set of goals that allow us to share all of our diverse stories and experiences to catalyze change. Then, we take our culture of multilingual perspectives and we teach others. We share again and again until the needle moves, and the change takes hold. Advocacy is a long process, but one with long-term impact if we persevere.
With the consistent energy and support of our member organizations, our coalitions, and every one of our dedicated advocates, JNCL-NCLIS works to provide the space, the resources, and the connections necessary to help us see multilingualism flourish in our nation and grow in our schools. When we all paddle in the same direction—no matter how many challenges we face—we can grow and build successful pathways to a multilingual future for all Americans—a future that respects everyone.
To be an advocate is to show up each day with will. To be an advocate is to speak intentionally and listen attentively. The greatest thing about being an advocate is that everyone and anyone can be one. The most important thing about being a language advocate is that the change you create can have a ripple effect that ultimately uplifts every person in our nation.
AT JNCL-NCLIS, for over forty years, our mission has been to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn English and at least one other language. It is our continuing charge to strive to do all we can to support you as advocates and to connect you to people and possibilities through policy and legislation.
By Amanda Seewald, Executive Director of JNCL-NCLIS