People often ask me, “where are you from?” to which I reply, “Albuquerque, New Mexico.” Most of the time, those who ask are shocked to hear my response. While New Mexico is (contrary to common belief) in the United States of America, it is difficult for some to conceptualize why someone my age would be drawn to an opportunity like the one I’ve chosen to take on. This opportunity I am referring to is my work with the leading Jewish non-profit human rights organization in the world and living alone in a five-story walk-up apartment complex in Midtown West Manhattan, spending my summer 2,000 miles away from home. The appeal is more than the independence I have in this beautiful city that I am experiencing every day. The appeal is more than the sights, sounds, tastes and smells that are so unique to Manhattan.
The appeal comes from the lessons I am learning about myself, and the responsibility and the work I’m doing here at AJWS that contributes to the greater good of people who are living around the world. The attraction comes from the idea that ambition is self-guided, and it only takes one person to have the confidence within themselves to know where they come from, and where they are headed.
That is what motivates me to wake up, strap on my heels, walk to the subway, grab my coffee and indulge in the meaningful work AJWS promotes daily.
The motivation behind my decision to come to Brandeis was built on the idea that social justice is fostered by generations who take pride in advocating and fighting for others. I am very passionate about finding innovative ways to network with people and learn more about where they come from and what they stand for. The work I am responsible for here is relevant to the AJWS social justice model: “[Advocating] for U.S and international laws and policies that help overcome injustice; [conducting] research to learn about and strengthen our work and advance the field of human rights; and [using] strategic communications to amplify our grantees’ voices and influence policy makers in the U.S and around the globe.” Through networking and communication, we can build stronger connective bonds that allow us to understand one another and strengthen our relationships. These conversations, presentations, proposals and travels are the crucial pieces that make up AJWS. The transparency and fluidity within each of the departments is what fosters the success of the organization.
Similarly, at Brandeis, we as a community use inter-connectivity to make our community stronger. If we as a community, nation and world are open-minded and tolerant of other points of view and perspectives, we can begin to open a dialogue that is positive and meaningful. Words are powerful, but so are actions. Regardless of our backgrounds, our hometowns, or our soon to be destinations, we are all traveling and living in this world together. Peace, love, unity and respect are the four elements that make up a successful thriving community and if we continue to instill these values within ourselves and those who come after us, we will uphold the social justice model and build a better future.