Summary of My Summer With BEJA
This summer I was given a great opportunity through Generation Citizen called the Community Change Fellow program. The Community Change Fellow program is a chance for young people to be a part of a real organization, and to teach them how to make change in their communities. Generation Citizen was introduced to me through my classroom, they would come in once or twice a week and we would work on a common issue in our community that we would like to change. This was a pretty fun thing to do other than just sit through another day of English class. After this program was over in our classrooms, about a month later I was called to the office and received a form to fill out for a summer job for Generation Citizen. I took interest in this because the class room project was a fun thing to do, and if I enjoyed it would make a good summer job. So I sign up and I eventually was paired with my supervisor Marlena Rose, and became a Youth Organizer for Boston Education Justice Alliance, and met my co-workers Maidalys and Alanni.
Being a Youth Organizer for BEJA (Boston Education Justice Alliance) so far has been a wonderful experience that has opened my view on the community. Before I started working for BEJA I did not really know how to put my voice out there, but now after being with BEJA for a month that with my voice I can create change and bring justice for the things that I believe in. With BEJA this summer we have been out canvassing. Canvassing means to go out to a busy area of your community and talk to people walking around in the area, with a message or to inform people about things you are doing. Canvassing is the most direct way to connect and talk to your community. Another thing I have learned with BEJA this summer is how to do screen printing. Screen printing is a way to make flyers and posters with your message on them, and they are one of the most cost efficient tactics to get your message viewed by the public.
I had the pleasure of working very closely with BSAC (Boston Student Advisory Council). With BSAC we went to the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Center, and we went around their neighborhood and saw some of the tactics they have used to improve their neighborhood. We have also gone to the Artists for Humanity building and learned about how their building is sustainable and how being sustainable helps the world to be cleaner, and can be cheaper than traditional buildings that hurt the environment. These experiences of going around the community and see what other people are doing to make a change in their community have taught me that if you do your part and make an effort to make a change, it will not only benefit you but the people around you creating a tighter knit community.
One of my favorite things that I have done with BEJA and BSAC this summer was creating a workshop to present to students to put light on the injustices there are in the school systems such as inequitable funding, the over use of standardized testing, and the discipline systems in some charter schools. After learning about injustices such like the unfair funding it made me upset because I have attended a public school all of my life and it makes me think “Has my education not been at its full capacity as long as I have been in school?” It really made me interested in my work because it related to me directly, and I had a great chance to make a difference and I think that informing kids just like me about that injustice, it will inspire more kids to be an agent of change in their community and look into local organizations and get involved at an early age. We met with City Councilor Tito Jackson, and he supports our work greatly, and has chosen us and BSAC to have monthly meetings with him.
With BEJA this summer I have learned that if you really believe in a issue, that you should fight for it and see what you can do in your community to become involved. I have also have been taught on how to use my voice effectively in a community, and I have also made some great contacts for future references. Being a Youth Organizer has really set me up to do a lot of great things in the future, such as if ever want to become any type of organizer I will already have some background knowledge.