Summer Institute for Student Organizers (SISO) is a six-week leadership training with the intention of bringing political education with hands-on training for English Language Learner (ELL) immigrant youth in the District.
SISO brings local organizers, educators, storytellers, media artists, and most importantly immigrant student organizers who play an essential role as experts on analyzing issues faced by ELL youth in the DC Public Schools. SISO is the only initiative in DC which is outstanding to a future generation of ELL immigrant leaders who can not only critically analyze but also act on issues of importance to their communities. By participating in SISO, youth are able to identify the foundation causes of education imbalance being faced by ELL youth, research and analyze the potential target "audiences" to whom the ELL youth can share their stories and solutions, and learn how to use direct action organizing and media engagement to further Y.A.T. campaign.
The first week of SISO focused on the “story of self”, the youth got to learn about one another and explore their identity through storytelling and ice breakers. The youth also developed the definition and practice of a safe space, which then they implemented throughout the rest of the institute. The first week ended by having the youth take a trip in Mt. Pleasant, to get to know its history and meet the business owners.
The second week was dedicated to learning about the “-isms”, the youth learned that different people have different privileges and power and sometimes they take advantage of such privilege to discriminate against a group of people. The youth then gave presentations about six particular -isms that affected them; racism, heterosexsim, abelism, ageism, sexsim, and classim.
The third and fourth week was solely focused on youth organizing. The youth got to learn about the power that they have, and how to cultivate it in their own communities. During these two week they collaborated with the Zero Hour Youth Climate March and participated in a march to demand for a cleaner future.
The fifth week was focused on campaign development. Through story sharing, the youth were able to identify three things that they will push for this 208-19 school year, one will be better school counselors, expanding the ELL program, and healthier school lunches.
The last week of SISO was focused on closing, and evaluating the program. We had 25 youth who joined us this summer. We had a total of 8 nationalities including: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Haiti.