My name is Kassidy Baptiste, and I’m a senior in high school and an intern at the ACLU of Delaware. This blog is not only to inform you about the ACLU Advocacy Institute – this blog post is to boast about this awesome experience and opportunity.
The ACLU Advocacy Institute is a virtual convening of young civil liberties advocates. The resources and information that I accumulated over such a short amount of time was nothing short of extraordinary. The scheduling discarded the factor of boredom because they offered so much to learn. Info sessions never lacked interest because the student chose what they learned. The teachers were engaging, and the students reacted to the energy being given.
The timeframe of the program is under the duration of one week. During this program I participated in multiple sessions focusing on some of the major issues our nation faces. These sessions and most of the schedule is framed by the student. Some of the sessions I chose were “Public Narrative: Storytelling for Change,” “Know Your Rights,” and “Student Free Speech.” Personally, I chose these workshops not only out of curiosity, but also to be a resource to help me build my own advocacy skills.
These workshops helped to formulate the base to my own common goal to move forward towards a better future. For example, we learned SMARTIE, which is an abbreviation that stands for Strategic, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, Time, Inclusive, and Equitable. Students were given guides and advice similar to that, in order to help us achieve a strong plan to make positive change. Some of those guides included, “How to Organize Your Own Goals,” and “How to Reach Out to Current Leaders and Voice Your Own Concerns.” The program created a place for safety and inclusion, while engaging participants in crucial issues.
A particularly memorable experience was the interaction between students. Every person I spoke to gave a lens into a world I had never seen. Students spoke on our different political views with respect. Others spoke of their tragic experiences of discrimation, gender inequality, and abuse in all shapes and forms.
The best part of the ACLU Advocacy Institute was being around others who wanted to be there and sharing knowledge. It truly made me see that youth, when together, can do and create the unthinkable.
To learn more about the ACLU Advocacy Institute, visit the National ACLU's website.