By Southeast Regional Organizer Hannah Finnie
By Sunday morning, STAND Campers were exhausted but excited—exhausted by the countless trainings and late night bonding sessions, but excited by the prospect of another day of leadership and advocacy training that they could bring back home to improve their chapters.
We started the day off with a policy briefing from Advocacy Coordinator Daniel Solomon, who delved into the nuances of the conflicts in Sudan/South Sudan and Burma, as well as more general comments on foreign aid and genocide prevention. Throughout the briefing, STAND Campers asked informed, complex questions. Some asked about the role of the Rohingya population in Burma, and others wondered about the effectiveness of foreign aid.
Up next was a lobby training session designed to to teach everyone the critical skill of lobbying to bring back to their chapters, as well as to help those participating in Tuesday’s lobby day prepare for their meetings. I led the session and emphasized that lobbying can be thought of as relationship-building, and as such, leaving a one-pager, providing contact information, and following up are important steps in creating a successful lobby meeting. Education Coordinator Mac Hamilton and Student Director Mickey Jackson then role-played a bad lobby meeting, where Mac drew off of past bad lobbying experiences (like being late) and Mickey pretended to be a staffer who had no interest in the subject. Grassroots Outreach Coordinator Ashley Jowell saved the day with an example of a wonderful lobby meeting with Daniel Solomon, who made it as hard for Ashley as possible.
Before breaking for a much-needed lunch, STAND’s National Student Coordinator Ashley Kroetsch led an introduction to campaign development, which provided STAND campers with effective tools to plan campaigns at their chapters and within their communities.
Lunch was filled with hilarious storytelling and jokes, such as a recap of Saturday night, when one student believed he was dreaming about an awesome rock concert. In reality, someone was knocking on his door. Another student talked about how he was forced to hop out of the shower to open the door, and the hilarities that ensued.
Afterwards, we reconvened for a management crash course led by the founder and former Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network, Sam Bell. Sam provided us with the tips on how to effectively lead and guide STAND chapters, such as the importance of delegating and designating one person as the “owner” of a project. Many students told me this was the most helpful session all weekend, as they were given tangible worksheets to help them act as more effective managers. Student Director Mickey Jackson also found the session useful, and said that he wished he had received the training immediately upon his appointment as Student Director (we still think he’s been doing a pretty okay job!)
We then broke out into small groups by region, where the Regional Organizers led a session on best practices with regard to recruitment and sustainability in STAND chapters. My breakout, however, was more of a conversation in which STAND campers discussed past successful and unsuccessful attempts at recruitment and sustainability. One student mentioned going to freshman classes and talking about STAND as a successful mechanism to increase membership. Another talked about the difficulties in creating visibility for STAND at her public school because of all of the bureaucratic red tape.
Next, we had a briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Fabrice Musoni, a UEG policy analyst, spoke with first-hand knowledge, as he had been born in the DRC. He also mentioned his resentment of the description of the DRC as the “rape capital of the world,” especially when there are largely non-violent areas of the DRC. The session was mostly “Q & A” style, with students asked informed questions, such as the role of M23 and Rwanda in the conflict in the DRC. Finally, we heard from engaging panelists about the Conflict Free Campus Initiative (CFCI), which informed chapters of the possibility of making their campuses and/or communities conflict free.
From there, STAND campers were free to go to sleep, but most ended up bonding with other students. I played STAND Hangman for a long time, with words such as “wonk” and “yarmulke” (a reference to Daniel Solomon’s watermelon yarmulke) appearing. Afterwards, we played “Keep it Up” while sitting and narrowly missed hitting people multiple times. Another group of students went for a dip in the lake at one in the morning, where there was an obstacle course that they somehow completed in the dark of night.
At the end of the day, I left with many new tools and resources and even more new Facebook friends. All in all, it was a very successful day at STAND Camp.