By Marc Eliot Stein, November 2, 2020
Episode 19 of the World BEYOND War podcast is a unique roundtable discussion with five young emerging activists in five continents: Alejandra Rodriguez in Colombia, Laiba Khan in India, Mélina Villeneuve in UK, Christine Odera in Kenya and Sayako Aizeki-Nevins in USA. This gathering was put together by World BEYOND War’s education director Phill Gittins, and it follows upon a video recorded last month in which the same group discussed youth activism.
In this conversation, we focus on each guest’s personal background, motivations, expectations and experiences relating to activism. We also ask each guest to tell us about their own starting points, and about the cultural circumstances that may present unseen and unrecognized differences in the way activists work and interact in different parts of the world. Topics include cross-generational activism, education and history curriculums, legacies of war, poverty, racism and colonialism, the impact of climate change and the current pandemic on activist movements, and what motivates each of us in the work we do.
We had an amazing conversation, and I learned a lot from listening to these emerging activists. Here are the guests and a few hard-hitting quotes from each.
Alejandra Rodriguez (Rotaract for Peace) participated from Colombia. “50 years of violence cannot be taken away from one day to the next. Violence here is cultural.”
Laiba Khan (Rotaractor, District International Service Director, 3040) participated from India. “The thing many people don’t know about India is that there exists a huge religion bias – a minority suppressed by a majority.”
Mélina Villeneuve (Demilitarise Education) participated from UK. “There literally is no excuse to no longer be able to educate yourself. I kind of hope this will resonate across the world, across communities, and across populations.”
Christine Odera (Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassador Network, CYPAN) participated from Kenya. “I was just tired of waiting for someone to come and do something. For me it was the self-actualization of knowing that I am the someone I have been waiting to do something.”
Sayako Aizeki-Nevins (Westchester Student Organizers for Justice and Liberation, World BEYOND War alumna) participated from USA. “If we create spaces where youth can hear the work of others, it can make them realize they do have power to make changes they want to see. Even though I live in a very small town where a drop of water would rock the boat, so to speak …”
Much thanks to Phill Gittins and all the guests for being part of this very special podcast episode!
The monthly World BEYOND War podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play and everywhere else podcasts are available.