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Testimonial: how FCNL’s Annual Meeting set me on this path

October 7, 2010

Five years ago this November, I stepped into a room filled with more Quakers than I had known in all my life. It was just over a year since I received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. I was not sure what to expect from this gathering, which I learned was called “Annual Meeting.” Nor did I know how I would be received by this group of Quakers who embraced the “War Is Not the Answer” slogan.

In truth, my initial interest in coming to Annual Meeting was the free trip to Washington, DC promised by my professor, Neil Snarr, at Wilmington College (Ohio). I became very intrigued shortly after my arrival; I was amazed by the overwhelming uniqueness of this group. It wasn’t the silence or the woman spinning yarn in the back of the room at the fancy Georgetown hotel that intrigued me; rather, it was the dedicated group of legislative advocates working for—of all things—peace which grabbed my attention. I had absolutely no familiarity with this concept, which I believed to be a 1960’s era practice. Little did I know!

Over the course of the next four days, I felt the humbling embraced of people I did not know who accepted me—the most distant kind of outsider—into their community. I was astonished by the work these wonderful people were doing. The “We Seek” statements instantly captivated me; they spoke to an experience I could not yet articulate and aspiration I longed to see in the world around me. I finally felt as if I fit somewhere.

So, I came back—again and again. I brought others with me. I learned how to organize buses of students and brought them to Washington, DC to learn how to lobby Congress. In 2009, upon graduation from Wilmington College, I applied for and accepted a position a Campaigns Program Assistant. Now in my second year and in a new role, I look back to that chilly November in 2005 with fond gratitude. There are few moments in life that many of us can pinpoint as transformative, but my first Annual Meeting was nothing short of life altering. The people I met and things I experience led me to a path I would not have otherwise walked.

The sense of community offered among young adults-Friends and friends alike-is well worth the journey to Washington, DC this November. We’ll have some great events planned for the YAF community this year, including some guest speakers who will undoubtedly impress their young adult audience. Don’t hesitate, if you have not yet registered, now is the time!

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