The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

UpSTANDer of the Week: Outreach Coordinator Zachary Ackerman

 Zach’s UpSTANDer Story

I see my life as having two phases: pre-STAND and post-STAND. My life prior to STAND was a life limited in scope, a blind existence in which mass killings were something the world cleaned up after, but never prevented. I was always conscience of these atrocities unfolding, but the idea of preventing or even ending genocide was just too distant for me to grasp. And with this limited view, the stories of these killings became words on a page, pictures on a screen. To me these were problems without a solution and I was very wrong.

STAND was my vehicle for understanding. I joined as something to do, but like a good book I had trouble putting it down. As I got more and more invested, I began to realize that the STAND model had it right: build a permanent grassroots constituency to end genocide. I was not a voiceless head in a sea of voiceless heads, but a member of a community that together could reach tangible, meaningful goals. I lobbied Congress three times and every time the legislative aids sat there writing down every fact and figure I gave treating me as though I was an expert because I was. STAND opened my eyes and enabled me push for change something I will always be grateful for.

So I start this year with a simple goal: allow others to share in my experience. For me, this year is not about making individuals feel empowered, but ensuring that they are empowered. Each of us will have our own role to play and as an Outreach Coordinator I am eager to solidify this community and movement that we all hold so dear. I invite everyone to join me in being part of the permanent anti-genocide constituency because even one more voice makes us louder.


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