Community involvement and the Midwest Academy Experience

Posted on: November 3rd, 2014

Midwest Academy intern and international studies major Carolina Escobar, ’15, writes about the importance of community involvement to social justice.

In the 2012 presidential elections I did not vote. I believed my vote would not make a difference and that voting could not change the social injustices our country and city faced. Sadly, I did not realize the significant correlation between voting and policy change that directly correlated with fighting social injustices until this past summer when I became a Midwest Academy intern. Through Midwest Academy my perspective on how social justice can be achieved changed greatly, as I was also introduced to community organizing.

Midwest Academy is a training institute that works to train organizers for social, economic, and racial justice. As a Midwest Academy intern, my experience was to learn what it meant to become a community organizer and how to interact and mobilize people in a community to encourage them to demonstrate their power to overcome social injustices. My placement for the internship was at Jane Addams Senior Caucus, which is part of a greater citywide effort of various community organizations to increase voter turnout for this November election. To increase voter turnout, it was necessary for the people who are directly affected by social injustices to be involved in the electoral process so they could have a say on issues that affected their life personally, therefore we had to reach out to communities to make sure that they were registered to vote.

This past summer, I learned what it meant to be a community organizer fighting for social justice. I learned that being a community organizer might be one of the most exhausting and time-consuming jobs. I learned that being a community organizer takes dedication, passion, and persistence. I also learned that it might be the most rewarding jobs, because there simply cannot be anything better than getting to know the stories and work closely with a community to win a victory, whether it be a policy or something else, that will better their life and provide better opportunities for them and other communities.

Being a Midwest Academy intern was a life-changing experience that changed my perspective on how to approach social justices issues. Community involvement is essential because you have to be able to connect faces to an issue, and the people represent electoral power. I learned that the electoral process is significant to fighting social injustices that are embedded within policy or law, and that working closely with communities that are targeted by those unjust laws or policies is essential to creating a more just community.

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