The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

STAND Retreat at Smith College

The STAND chapter at Smith College in Massachusetts held a retreat this past weekend to engage students in the northeast region. It was an intimate weekend where 15 high school and college students from seven different STAND chapters learned about Sudan, Burma and the Democratic Republic of Congo and how to use their individual passion to entice others to stand up too.

The SmithSTAND chapter began planning the retreat this past summer after Student Director Andrea Hong and Outreach Coordinator MacKenzie Hamilton attended STAND Camp in July. Their experiences at STAND Camp inspired them to give students the same training they received. The retreat was held on Columbus Day Weekend to symbolize that in America, we get a day off to celebrate the genocide and imperialism Christopher Columbus committed in 1492.

The retreat was jam packed with training sessions and events to give the attendants a well-rounded perspective of activism. Attendants learned about government activism, old media and social media strategies and updated information on STAND’s areas of engagement. New York artists, Alsarah and the Nubatones, performed as well, demonstrating that activism cannot be placed in box. Alsarah is originally from Khartoum, Sudan, but she fled to Yemen when she was eight years old. In 1994, Alsarah moved to the U.S. due to the Yemen civil war.She uses her passion and talent to reach out to others. Attendants on Saturday and Sunday learned how to share their stories through the powerful rhetoric President Barack Obama used during his 2008 campaign. If you want others to stand up with you, you have to develop a relationship with that person. The best way to do that is through stories. Retreat planner Mackenzie Hamilton said that the biggest highlight of the retreat was hearing the student’s stories, “It was incredible hearing them develop their stories and how they used them to empower everyone at the retreat. I know that they will be able to take their stories and empower others later on.”

Being an upstander is not an easy task. That is why passion is a must. We can keep our passion inside, but that would be a waste. We all have talents, skills and resources we can filter our passion through, but it is far better to use our passion to motivate others and help them find their way to stand up. That’s what the SmithSTAND chapter did. How are you going to use your passion?

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