By Doo Yong Shim | NAKASEC Communications Intern
From July 26 to August 5, youth leaders from NAKASEC’s affiliates, the Korean Resource Center (KRC) in Los Angeles and the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC) in Chicago, gathered in Washington, D.C. to participate in NAKASEC’s first ever Social Justice Camp and Maryland DREAM Summer program. The program, coordinated by NAKASEC and its affiliates, provided the youth leaders with trainings on movement-building, storytelling and civic engagement activities. As a young person as well as a NAKASEC intern, I had the opportunity to both help facilitate and participate in the program with the other youth.
During the Social Justice Camp, the youth participated in activities where they explored their identity and how that informs their leadership as young people, power and privilege, the immigrant rights movement and the power of storytelling as a call to action. Perhaps the most popular of all the activities during these two days were the storytelling activities as it gave us an opportunity to understand why all of us have been called to social justice work but at the same time, allowed us to get to know each other outside of the activist work we do.
After the two-day camp, we were thrown into 7-day intensive civic engagement activities for the Maryland DREAM Act. Everybody was able to learn organizing and how to do outreach first hand. During this week, we made phone calls, canvassed in the Maryland suburbs, and tabled outside of Korean grocery stores. Through these various activities, we were able to reach out to Maryland community members and inform them about Maryland DREAM Act and ask for support during the upcoming November 2012 election. In addition to reaching out for support, we also registered voters.
In the middle of Maryland DREAM Summer, we also had the opportunity to attend one of Casa de Maryland’s youth committee’s weekly general meetings. This was a great opportunity for us to talk about the work that NAKASEC, KRC and KRCC does as well as connect with other youth who were also advocating for the Maryland DREAM Act.
On the last day of Maryland DREAM Summer, we attended Casa de Maryland’s rally in Silver Spring, Maryland. There, Carla Navoa, a youth organizer at KRCC, spoke about NAKASEC and its affiliates, all the work we did during our visit to Maryland, and the importance of the Maryland DREAM Act.
Over the entire 9 days, we learned so much from each other and accomplished exceptional outreach performances. We made over 2000 phone calls, reached out to at least 210 families, and received over 100 pledge cards to support the Maryland DREAM Act. As both an intern and youth participant, it was a great opportunity and privilege for me to be there with youth participants throughout the program and to be part of a larger movement for social change.