On Saturday we took our biggest group, which included undergraduate students and one Brandeis alum, to Cradles to Crayons in Brighton for our last service project! Cradles to Crayons provides school supplies, clothes, and other necessary items in packages to kids in need. They rely heavily on donations, so we all brought materials from Brandeis to donate to the organization.
Cradles had a bunch of service groups there that day who were helping out on various projects. Our Brandeis group was sent to sort clothes. Cradles has a saying “Quality = Dignity” that informs the way they package materials. We were one of the many stops at which clothes were sorted by quality as well as by size. We worked on clothes for boys, girls, and even babies. Students had a great time going through all the clothes and sorting them into the appropriate spaces. During our reflections on the way back, participants expressed how much they enjoyed the event and their desire to volunteer more in the future. Everyone really seemed to enjoy enacting social justice through service, and I’m glad that there are so many opportunities on campus for people to get involved in service throughout the school year!
Written by Sneha Walia
On Thursday evening, a group of 12 Brandeis students and one staff member (our Director of Community Service, Lucas) set off to the Chill Zone, a community center in Waltham for middle school-aged kids on weekends. The Chill Zone has spaces for games, crafts, a gym, and even a roller rink for the kids to use on weekends. It gives them something positive and fun to do that also helps them stay out of trouble.
We started our visit with a tour around the facility, which ended with a private tour of some new attractions by the mayor of Waltham! She told us about the history of community areas in Waltham and about the Chill Zone itself, which is pretty young! We then split into groups and helped clean and organize different areas in the space. We moved around furniture, cleaned tables, organized games, and disinfected everything we could find! Our group had a lot of fun and seemed to really bond during the event.
Written by Sneha Walia
On February 4th, February 6th, and February 8th, Brandeis students and staff came together on a series of service projects to More than Words, the Chill Zone, and Cradles to Crayons respectively!
On Tuesday, our group took a Waltham Group Van over to More than Words to volunteer for a couple of hours there. Our numbers were a little bit small, but we were still able to get a lot done! We started off with a tour of the site led by one of the youth staff there. We then split up into groups. Each group spend an hour sorting books to be shelved, sold online, or rejected in the basement of the store. We were able to sort over 500 books! The woman we were working with let us know that their goal for each day is around 700, but they usually don’t get much time to sort on Tuesdays because they are busy working on other things. We brought them almost up to their goal!
Upstairs, groups spent time sorting through comic books, a new section at More than Words. We were able to complete that project as well as help the store get a start on cleaning up and reorganizing different sections of the store. They take a lot of pride in the store layout and the huge array of books out there, and it was really great to be able to help keep the space in good shape!
During our reflection discussion on the way back, most students said that the experience helped shape their opinion of service as social justice. Even though we were just helping with organizational day-to-day tasks, we still made an impact on the store’s day. They certainly made an impact on all of us, as well! It was a great kick off trip to Brandeis Unites in Service!!
Written by Sneha Walia
At the Kickoff, one of the posters left for students to comment on was titled, “Social Justice Work To Do.” It’s important to reflect on what injustices exist and to realize it’s possible to correct these wrongs. It’s also motivating to get everyone thinking and talking about what needs to improved in the world. Comments on this poster include…
1. Stereotypes and labeling are still prevalent! Must make steps towards improvement!
2. End violence in Syria.
3. The stigma of mental illness needs to be erased.
4. The homeless need to have homes.
5. Children are abused.
6. Stop sexual assault on women in the military.
7. Women and children being safe at home.
8. Equal pay for equal work
9. Sex trafficking and sex slaves still exists (in America too!)
10. Stop Kony
11. (In response to “Stop Kony”) + Justice, for victims, democracy, and gay rights in Uganda.
12. Communist America
13 (In response to “Communist America”) No, capitalism needs further implementation (It causes TRUE social justice).
14. Not your body, not your choice! Reproductive freedom for all women!!
15. Black Namibian families are at a major socioeconomic disadvantage, resulting n lower paying jobs and less children in school.
16. Cultivating compassion (individuals). Recognizing and appreciating students’ efforts in having a meaning[ful] dialogue across campus (such as ‘DEIS Impact)
Written by Heather Spector
During our Kickoff event, we had two large posters on the floor with markers left by them. One of the posters had the title, “Social Justice Accomplishments.” Too often people focus solely on what needs to be done in the world, and don’t stop to think about what has been accomplished. Some of the comments on the poster are…
1. More states allow gay marriages
2. The US has its first African American president
3. The American Revolution
5. The Dream Act
6. Jehuda conducting literary research on donkeys
7. Whitehead recognizes and defines health disparities/inequities/inequalities to bring attention to the problems of health care.
8. Women are more respected in the work force
9. People are much less often judged based on the color of their skin
10. Less slavery – the slave ship, ball & chain kind.
Written by Heather Spector
The event was well attended and a variety of people from the Brandeis community overall. As people were talking into the event, the movie version of her book, Dead Man Walking, was playing. Sister Helen Prejean was an incredibly passionate speaker that used her real-life experience to craft a first-person narrative that takes the audience from her first encounter with the inmates to his eventual death and then the making of the Academy Award-winning movie. Afterwards many students approached her to get her to autograph their books and talk about how her story had affected them. Overall the event was successful and was extremely well received.
Written by Flora (Yuan) Wang
About 25 people attended the event.
Overall goal of the event was to educate the audience about LGBTQ sexual violence. There was a presentation by a couple of BARCC (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center) volunteers on topics like sexual violence, sexual orientation, LGBTQ sexual violence issues, rape crisis, prevention and many more.
As a part of the presentation, there was an exercise where the audience was broken down in groups and given scenarios involving sexual orientation, violence. The audience then was asked to share how they act in that situation.
For more information about BARCC goto: http://barcc.org/
Written by Avishek Neupane
17 people attended the event. The goal of the event was to give the audience some practice in a certain style of story telling that helps in Leadership for Social Change.
The main three component of the story telling was ‘Story telling of self, us and now’.
The ‘self’ focused on exploring your motivation and expressing in an engaging way. The ‘us’ focused on relating your story and activism to your audience and the ‘now’ focused on drawing the audience to a concrete action.
Throughout the day we broke down into different groups to work with coaches on each type of story telling, the self, us and now. The energy of all the coaches were top notch and all the participants shared that the full day workshop was really beneficial for them in exploring their motivations and practice effective story telling and public speaking.
To find out more please visit: http://leadingchangenetwork.com/
Written by Avishek Neupane
Ideas, Intentions, Actions. Or rather: Intentions, Ideas, Actions. Social justice depends on an idea with intent, but it takes an action to become more than just talk. Both of Mandela’s grandchildren emphasized the notion that “if we speak with enough voices they’ll have to hear us.” It takes actions to spark change. In addition, they mentioned the value of speaking to someone in their native language. “If you speak to a man in his language you speak to his heart.” I find this especially poignant because it ties into my ISSP (Immigrant Support Services Program) work and teaching ESL. We are giving immigrants the ability to speak in English which will hopefully enable them to open new doors in their life.
Written by Galen Karlan-Mason
Have you ever seen the cooking network’s Chopped? Well the Harry Potter Alliance decided to take that idea and give it a twist. Students were challenged to make full, nutritious meals on the average budget of a low income American household. They were judged by Jamele Adams, Gordon Fellman, Kate Moran, and Exec. Chef Dave on their ability to make a well balanced and nutritious meal that also looked tasty. While the contestants were cooking, Marilyn Lee Tom from the Community Day Center, Jaclyn Kellner, and Elena Huang of the Natural Living club all spoke about their opinions and experience with food equality. This event taught students not only how hard it is to make a well balanced and nutritious meal on a low budget, but they also learned more about how to realistically do so.
Written by Lindsay Mitnik