Saturday, November 17, 2007

Meeting activists: young and old

While the Teach-In is mainly students, there are people of all ages at the Teach-In and of course at the gates. This morning I met a woman who just joined the 1,000 Grandmother movement yesterday with the birth of her first grandchild. Congrats to her! This movement aims to gather 1,000 grandmothers (and their combined 10,000 years of wisdom) at the gates.

Last year, the Loyola students said they loved seeing other generations at the protest, both the grandmothers and families with small children. They admire the dedication of people who have come for years without seeing much change and they admire parents who are teaching their young children the values of social justice. A few said that they participate in protests such as this one because their parents took them along on protests as children.

I am impressed with the high school kids that are at the Teach-In. Their experience is a little different from the college students. While the Loyola students reported that they knew about a lot of the topics talked about at the Teach-Ins from classes, a lot of the high school kids don't know much about social justice issues yet. (Some college kids are just learning, too, of course. I personally didn't know anything about the SOA until after college so everybody here impresses me!) A lot of the talks are directed to people who are starting to learn about immigration, the environment, the SOA, and other issues.

Also, there are a few large high school groups, but some of the high school students I talked to came in groups of five students or less. Two girls from Milwaukee came with another school group because they did not have enough for a group from their own school.

Students from Loyola Chicago talked of struggling with feeling accepted at their school, but I imagine the social pressure in high school is especially difficult to handle. It must be even more difficult when there are only a few others interested in social justice at your school. Three boys from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. learned of the Teach-In and vigil from a teacher, but reported that the rest of their school wasn't terribly progressive.

Of all the high school students I've talked, teachers seem to be key in inspiring kids to come down here, where they learn more, gain experience in activism, and meet thousands of others concerned with what they are concerned with. Thank you teachers!

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