This past school year, 20,000+ young people delivered original Soapbox speeches on the most important issues facing their communities. Peers, teachers, parents, community members, and local representatives listened closely as youth in 28 states stood up and spoke out. Through regional events and a digital video competition, 20 of those students qualified to give their speech in Washington, DC at the Newseum during a visit to the Capitol in July. The trip was put on as part of Soapbox Nation, a partnership between Mikva Challenge and Facebook Education. 

From Los Angeles, CA to Wilmington, DE; Akron, OH to Atlanta, GA, and many places in between, everyone arrived excited – and a little nervous! – to meet the other speakers. Over dinner and ice-breaker games at the Facebook DC offices, they made fast friends. The two day trip was jam-packed with opportunities to explore the city and learn from civic leaders. Some highlights included drawing a crowd outside of the White House while practicing their speeches, touring the Capitol, sitting down with Congresswoman Jan Schakowski, and getting to know other powerful young people from all over the country. 

The trip culminated with a youth speech showcase event at the Newseum. Each young person bravely stood in front of the crowd to take a stand for what they believe in. Topics included global warming, Islamophobia, mental health and school shootings. There were tears, laughter and a lot of learning happening in that auditorium. Luckily, if you weren’t in the room that night, you can still hear those winner speeches. Watch the C-SPAN broadcast.

It was a whirlwind and impactful trip. At the closing dinner, one participant reflected, “I felt empowered, inspired, heard and grateful for the opportunity.”