Yesterday June 30, 2014 was our first day of our annual Summer Institute for Student Organizing (SISO) -- a unique opportunity for the District's English Language Learner and bi/multilingual immigrant youth to be trained in youth organizing. Yesterday's session started with a few welcoming words by our Executive Director, Sapna Pandya to all 15 DCPS and DCPCS youth participating this summer. SISO runs for 6 weeks, from June 30th – August 8th, 2014. Participants will meet three times a week; Mon. Thurs and Fri. from 1-5pm. SISO youth participants will explore and experience the power of youth organizing through action research, popular education workshops, re-affirming the Student Multiethnic Action Research Team (SMART)'s values and learning from allied social justice movements and campaigns. This year's SISO will focus on sharpening our research skills, in order to strengthen the SMART campaign Platform which is focused on English Language Learner (ELL) student outcomes.
Our first day started off with sharing and exploring the meanings of our names and identity. We were able to share how some of our names are long and difficult for others to say but we reclaim them and wear them with honor and power! It was great to hear stories about the names that are passed down from generations and the honor of preserving that family name and culture. As people of color and immigrants it is important for us to preserve what is ours. It is important to allow a safe space for young people to explore what it means to them and what that looks like.
Throughout the day we discussed, shared and explored what privilege and oppression looks like. Critical questions that were discussed by the participants of SISO included: "What are the systems of oppression?" and "Who has power and who does not?" Enlightening examples were shared, from experiences in public and public charter schools as undocumented students to the variation of resources and support that are given to students due to socio-economic status and academic development. At the end of the day words like "enlightened", "informed", "inspired" and "educated" were said to describe how the participants felt leaving the first day of SISO.
Find out more about SISO 2014 and how you can help make it a success! Email firstname.lastname@example.org, MLOV's Education Organizer, for more information.