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College of Social Justice
Submitted by Guest on Tue, 08/07/2012 - 8:16am.
Elias Estabrook was a recent UUSC grassroots mobilization intern whose work focused on engaging youth. In the following blog post, he reflects on his time as a UUSC intern and the questions that youth face as they try to make positive change in the world.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
— Rev. Howard Thurman
What does this mean for young people like me? Rev. Howard Thurman's widely cherished and respected words capture what I grapple with as I seek out opportunities to learn about the world and make a difference. Where and how will I discover what truly makes me come alive? And how can we help other youth discover that for themselves?
Over the past two months, after an eight-month immersion experience abroad, I've settled into UUSC's office in Cambridge as an intern for grassroots mobilization. Just as I did in my rural, Senegalese host community, I've taken on the challenge of examining the role of youth in social change — and formulating ways for them to engage as leaders and aware members of society. In particular, I've focused on youth activism with respect to economic justice, from fair trade to restaurant workers' rights.
In my final week, I had the opportunity to attend parts of the National Youth Justice Summit, a UU College of Social Justice program. It was a privilege to see how 10 young Unitarian Universalists — much like I was just a few years ago — are tackling fundamental questions about social justice and developing realistic visions for how they can be agents of change. During the week, the youth forged connections as they shared perspectives. They were united by not only their UU faith and their leadership qualities but also their joint motivation and aspiration to make a difference. And that week can serve as the jumping off point for something even bigger.
It was a blessing to end my stint at UUSC with such an interactive week. As we closed one of the sessions, assembled in a circle with joined hands, I voiced my gratitude for seeing my hopes for engaged young people manifested in the wisdom and determination of these eager leaders. Even though I spent much of my internship at a desk shaping important research and creative ideas into strategic information kits and workshop programs, being face-to-face with young UUs for a short time was ultimately the most gratifying. It made the youth-led social-justice movement I was envisioning and writing about incredibly real.
The world needs youth leaders to take on the complicated challenges of our time. But there are far too many for one young leader to take on alone. And so, as Howard Thurman believes, we need more youth who are intrinsically motivated and passionate about the good they can do in the world. As they explore, they will discover what they are most drawn to, whether it be campaigning for marriage equality or coordinating job-training programs for marginalized youth.
Bringing out this enthusiasm and conviction is, of course, easier said than done. Reaching and harnessing this energy was one of the greatest challenges of my work. How do you motivate youth to contribute to social action, to understand and get involved with an important human-rights campaign? These were the questions I pondered. Yet, after this National Youth Justice Summit, this task seems much more possible. Surrounded by lively, inquisitive, and invested youth, I find my optimism about our generation reaffirmed.
Submitted by Guest on Thu, 05/24/2012 - 8:27am.
In preparation for Justice GA in Phoenix, Ariz., (June 20-24, 2012) the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) have jointly organized three Service Learning trips to the U.S.-Mexico border with our partner organization, BorderLinks. In this blog post Rev. Eric Cherry, the Director of the UUA’s International Office, describes what is planned for the third trip which will begin on May 25th. The BorderLinks service learning trips are made possible through the generous contributions of UUA and UUSC donors.
It was a privilege to journey with Unitarian Universalists who are engaged in a diverse array of ministries during the BorderLinks delegation last January. And last month (April) a second UUA/UUSC delegation had an equally powerful experience. Together the people on these delegations grew in understanding the complex justice issues related to the US/Mexico border. They also found room for theological reflection about those matters. And, through the eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart connections with people living in this context, each returned deeply committed to the ongoing religious work for immigration justice.
The participants in this third UUA/UUSC delegation are also faith leaders engaged in diverse ministries: lay and ordained, in both parish and community settings. And, they are sure to have a deep and rich experience that will include visits with:
- Scholarships A-Z: A network of students and advisors working to make education accessible for all students. They help connect students to available resources and train them to be their own advocates.
- Grupos Beta: A Federal Mexican Organization that has offices along the northern and southern borders of Mexico and one in D.F. There mission is to protect the migrant.
- The Green Valley Samaritans: Volunteers who to into the desert on water runs and searches Their goal is to help protect any migrants they come across in the desert, in an effort to prevent deaths along the border region.
- Hogar de Esperanza y Paz (HEPAC): HEPAC is a sister organization to BorderLinks and a community center in Nogales, Sonora. Programs offered at HEPAC include adult education and training classes, and the Child Food Security Program, which provides lunch to children and education for their families on nutrition and gardening. HEPAC also is home to a women’s cooperative that produces jewelry that raises awareness about deaths in the desert.
- Observing Operation Streamline and analyzing its injustices with legal professionals who confront it constantly.
Further stories from the journey will be posted after the trip. Please come back to see the reflections of the participants.