2016 Tour’s last stop is squash with Senator Gillibrand

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Today marks the end of the 2016 Citizenship Tour, however we were able to squeeze in one final exciting activity. This morning, we hopped on court with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to play squash and to later speak with her about the issues she cares about. Sen. Gillibrand formerly played squash at Dartmouth and was eager to play two points per student. We were impressed! After time on court, the Senator held a Q & A session in which she discussed the ways she is fighting for the improvement of campus sexual violence, gender rights, and increasing the diversity of Congress.

Afterwards, it was time for all 24 of us to depart back to our home cities. We’ve made friendships that will last far beyond these 8 days together and learned so much from the leaders we met with in each Tour stop. We all leave the Citizenship Tour with a greater appreciation for public service and inspired to share our lessons learned with our urban squash friends and family back home!

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Supporters meet 2016 Citizenship Tour at University Club Reception

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Friends of urban squash in Washington DC gathered at the University Club to meet our group and hear about our Tour adventures. Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Islands gave an incredible keynote address that resonated with our guests and students about the power of athletics and public service. Our students shared trip highlights with attendees and then joined in a squash exhibition with pros Ahmad Alzabidi and Mubarak Mohsin.

It was a wonderful evening and we are so grateful to all of the supporters in attendance!

2 Senators in 1 day! Tour meets Sen. Heitkamp and Sen. Franken and explores the Capitol Building

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In a span of two hours, the Citizenship Tour met with two inspiring leaders in the Senate, Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

Senator Heitkamp engaged us in a meaningful conversation about her role in serving the Native American population of North Dakota. We discussed the needs of those living on reservations and learned about the mental health, education, and addiction treatment initiatives she is working passionately on.

Afterwards, we met fellow squash-loving Senator Al Franken who not surprisingly had us laughing right away. Senator Franken spoke about his background working at SNL as a comedic writer and even showed us some of his battle scars from his recent squash games. Next year, we’d love to challenge you to a match, Senator Franken!

Tonight is our special Citizenship Tour Reception in DC and we can’t wait to share our stories with all of our supporters.

Justice Kagan meets the Tour in historic day for urban squash

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Inspirational. Once-in-a-lifetime. Unforgettable.

These are the only adjectives that seem fitting to describe today, the day in which the 2016 Citizenship Tour met Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. In a nearly hour-long meeting with our group of 24 students and staff, Justice Kagan spoke with us about her role as a member of the Supreme Court. She spoke candidly about her position on the Second Amendment, about her relationships with her fellow Justices and openly answered our questions. It was an extraordinary meeting and all students left with wisdom to take back to their home cities and programs.

Prior to our trip to the Supreme Court, we visited the Department of Justice to meet with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Assistant to the Solicitor General Ilana Eisenstein. We learned about the work of the Justice Department and heard about the challenges and rewards of providing justice for all Americans.

Later in the evening, we had a fun hitaround at George Washington University, hosted by Coach Wendy Lawrence. It was a perfect way to cap off a historic day for our students and for urban squash.

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Philadelphia Welcomes Citizenship Tour

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The Tour departed New York City on Saturday morning for the City of Brotherly Love. After arriving to SquashSmarts, we quickly made ourselves at home as the member program would be our host for the night. Students worked on reflections from the New York City stop of the Tour and later got on court to play with one another.

The main highlight of our day in Philadelphia was a trip to watch the Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer team compete against DC United. Our group was hosted in a VIP club suite to view the match and treated to a generous dinner. To cap off the special evening, there was a fireworks display afterwards that only added to our students’ excitement.

A huge thanks to SquashSmarts Executive Director Steve Gregg for coordinating these incredibly special activities for the Tour!

A whirlwind last day in NYC – NY Times, City Hall and 9/11 Memorial

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Students gather in front of the iconic New York Times building

Our final day in New York City was packed with inspiring tours and meetings. Our morning began with New York Times reporters David Segal and Rachel Abrams, who led us on an exclusive tour of the New York Times building. We later met with Nikole Hannah-Jones, a magazine staffer for the Times, to discuss her latest piece on segregation in urban school systems.

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NY Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones held a roundtable discussion about urban public schools

The tour then shared lunch with Barbara Ortiz Howard, the co-founder of the Women on 20s campaign that fought to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Afterwards, we returned to City Hall for an engaging discussion on immigration with NYC Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal.

Our day concluded with a powerful visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and nice dinner downtown afterwards.

Next stop, Philly!

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Day 2 Adventures at City Hall and NBC Studios

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The Citizenship Tour with Lester Holt at the Nightly News desk.

How many people can say they met a Deputy Mayor, a leading news anchor, and a Pulitzer Prize winner all in the same day? The members of the 2016 Citizenship Tour can!

Our second day in New York City kicked off with a visit to City Hall, where we met with Deputy Mayor Richard Buery. We discussed his background and passion for public service, learned about inspiring NYC initiatives, and debated the ideal of the American Dream.

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Deputy Mayor Richard Buery was our first meeting of the Tour at NYC City Hall

Next stop was the historic NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. We were led on a VIP tour of the SNL, Late Night, and Today Show studios and got a glimpse of the control room where the behind-the-scenes producing takes place. The highlight was a 45 minute meeting with NBC Nightly News Anchor Lester Holt, who graciously answered all of our curious questions about his work at NBC. A big thank you to Brett Holey and Julie Cerullo who helped coordinate this special event for us.

We capped our day off with another trip to StreetSquash where we played some squash and spoke with Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter David Segal. Our group will meet back up with him tomorrow for our tour of the iconic New York Times Building.

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2016 Tour kicks off in the Big Apple

 

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24 students from 11 different cities made their way to New York City today to embark on the 3rd Annual Urban Squash Citizenship Tour.

First day highlights included a Central Park picnic and a hit-around at StreetSquash Harlem, where we learned about the history of urban squash from StreetSquash Executive Director George Polsky and NUSEA Executive Director Tim Wyant.

Can’t wait for our visits to City Hall and NBC Studio tomorrow!

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