As the final stages of the US presidential race get underway, 20 sixth-formers from five UK schools have joined campaigners for Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and a number of the Republican congressional races. The students are part of the Inspire US 2016 programme, run by education charity The Transformation Trust, which offers opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them develop new employability skills and grow in confidence. TES will carry a report each day from the students.
Reporting from Florida are Rubaiyath Reza, Tanya Hossain, Tasnia Abdullah, Sanjida Mustharen, from Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, East London
Today we started our journey on the democratic campaign trail for Hillary Clinton: the woman who hopes to be the first female president of the USA, breaking "the glass ceiling".
Kin, a young Democrat, welcomed us into the Clearwater volunteers' centre and told us how she had been inspired to come over and work on the campaign and was really excited that we were there to help.
Armed with our clipboards, badges and excitement, we headed off to local residential areas to "get out the vote" (GOTV)! As volunteers, we were tasked with door-knocking, to encourage voters to go out early and exercise their right to vote. This gave us a chance to engage in face-to-face conversations with the citizens who will decide the fate of this election.
Florida being the "swingiest of the swing states" has intensified the need to hit the road and encourage voters to go out and vote early. The intense heat did not detract from our drive to get out and get people out of their houses and excited about voting early.
It was great to meet first-time voters eager to cast their vote on election day. At one door, we spoke to a mother and daughter: the daughter was voting for the first time. Her mother told us how proud she was, because she had campaigned to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, so that young people could participate in the political process.
The empowerment of women
Being from an all girls’ school which is passionate about the empowerment of women and about our own futures in the political process back home, we were really struck by how female-led the campaign team was at the Clearwater base. Almost all of the volunteers we met were women; some recent college graduates, some middle-aged professionals and a 16-year-old, who canvassed with us, who aspired to study international relations at university. It was exciting to see such a diverse group of women working together, motivated by a common political purpose.
It seems that Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and the prospect of having the first female president of the US, has encouraged women to engage with the political process, and we hope this will be reflected in voter turnout at the polls on 8 November.
Having also worked on the Republican campaign, we quickly became immersed in learning how the Democratic Party functions. The exposure to US election campaigns has given us real insight into the world of US politics, which has provided us with skills we can use in our own campaigning in the future.
Through this experience we have learned that there is strength in numbers and our grassroots contributions to the campaigns are having an enormous impact on the direction of this election.