I saw the energy. And energy is contagious. And I have a lot of it to give away too, so I just really like the passion for these issues all around social justice and environmentalism. I was really excited about the Convergence that was happening pretty soon after I got back from Thailand and wanted to check it out. It sounded like people were really motivated and they had solid connections even though they weren’t all in the same place, and they were doing amazing things, and I just wanted to learn about what other people were up to. It’s just a very comforting place I think, to re-energize through Convergence and just through being involved with the network with all the people that are in ENGAGE. It’s a nice comfort and support no matter where you are, I’ve found.
What are you currently doing and getting involved with?
I finished my degree in International Studies and Environmental Studies, and I kind of went towards the racial justice route instead of environmental. And then I got a job at the Urban League. national non-profit organization based around racial justice issues specifically for African-Americans and I’ve just become engulfed with the issues. As a volunteer coordinator, the main part of my job is coordinating tutors in schools with Middle School students, one-on-one in the classroom. We work with students of color and economically disadvantaged, just trying to close the racial achievement gap which is really significant in our county particularly. Working with kids has been really amazing – who can be steered in so many different directions and by so many different influences – trying to get them to see where they can go in life, and what they can do. I have really enjoyed working on this issue and I feel really passionate about it.
How has ENGAGE supported you in your journey?
I’ve found that in my own organization sometimes people aren’t aware of the language they’re using – sometimes oppressive language – or they’re just not aware of other issues besides this racial justice issue. Which is interesting. So ENGAGE kind of reminds me that some people really try to look at a lot of different social issues and be very conscious about inclusivity and to be intentional. And I really find comfort in that.
We have noticed your involvement with Convergence planning and we would love to hear more about it! Why are you passionate about Convergence and the planning process?
I’m involved because I love hearing people’s voices and hearing that they’re really interested in talking about anti-oppression and all these things that you don’t necessarily talk about when meeting new people. And while we may not always know each other face to face, when we’re planning you get to know someone surprisingly well over how they plan and how they organize themselves and get stuff done. I’m passionate about it because we all need support, we all need that reviving energy and I love Convergence for that reason.
How does Convergence positively affect the network as a whole?
I think it shows that there are still people who are committed to something, because they know it can help people. Often times ENGAGErs are in challenging jobs or are engrossed in a non-profit that might make them have to work their asses off all the time while being activists. And to have Convergence as just a space of comfort and accepting people who are passionate about the same things, is really powerful.
What does planning a Convergence actually look like?
It looks like a lot of phone calls on Sunday nights, and a lot of Google notes, that’s for sure. But of course with ENGAGErs we’re always trying to be intentional about what we do, why we do it, and how we make it the best it can be. It’s a really cool way to develop some skills in coordinating and logistics and sequencing for a one-weekend event. We make progress little by little and get to know each other along the way.
What advice do you have for the next generation of ENGAGErs?
I would say that as hard as it may be sometimes, diving into a new issue, feeling like you don’t know a lot, and you’re around all these really fired-up activists, is to just keep your ears open and know that it’s OK that you don’t know everything yet. It takes time and that’s the hardest part I think for us young people, is we are so used to things changing so quickly. But know that you’ve got support through ENGAGE, which is amazing and hard to find.