Our youth leaders at Long Island City High School in Queens have been very active over this past month. Beginning on International Women’s Day in early March, they participated and performed at an event organized by Friends of the Congo that celebrated women in the Congo, Sudan and Haiti. Our Undesirable Elements troupe performed a beautiful dance, spoken word piece highlighting the work of people who inspire them including Wangari Maathai (MP and leader of the environmentalist Green Belt Movement in Kenya). During the celebration we also moderated a panel which brought together Haitian women activists Edna Bonhomme and Alice Backer and Sudanese activists and human rights leaders Dr. Medina Dousa (Director of the Center for Women and Development in Nyala, Darfur) and Bushara Dousa (Director of Darfurian People’s Association of New York). Dr. Medina literally stepped off the plane from Sudan and graciously joined our discussion. The panel challenged the portrayal of Darfurians and Haitians as helpless victims in both crises and talked about their role in leading rebuilding, peace-building and survival efforts. They also placed both crises within a larger historical context and addressed the need for people on the ground to be more in control of the resources coming into their communities.
A few weeks later, our Global Kids youth leaders Jessica Garcia, Mayank Kumar and Sukhjinder Kaur led an interactive workshop at the New York Coalition of Radical Educators conference. They facilitated activities and discussions with elementary school teachers on how to do effective solidarity work with children and youth on the continent, using their work in Darfur as an example. The workshop was very well received and got people thinking about how they could link directly to schools and children in other contexts using a solidarity versus charity lens by creating opportunities for learning and giving on both ends of the connection.
Finally our GK leaders Jessica Garcia and Rumman Syed during a college tour in Washington DC, joined me on the WPWF radio show Blackademics last week, hosted by the wonderful Shani Jamila. They talked passionately about what solidarity work means to them and how listeners could get involved in meaningful actions in support of Sudanese people and their struggle for justice and peace. They were naturals on the radio and made powerful connections to their own lives as immigrant youth (El Salvador and Bangladesh) and the international solidarity they have been involved in or have witnessed in other places.
There is much more to come from our youth including an ideas exchange with youth in Sudan…stay tuned…