Vibrant Beginning

First Stop: New York

A little over two weeks ago, I landed in New York for the first day of my Human Rights Program. I was quickly bombarded with the typical bumper to bumper traffic, a montage of smells, and loud noises. I was also welcomed with rich diversity, vibrant street art, food trucks, and a rustic industrial landscape. I hopped out of my Uber and entered my first orientation gathering where everyone was already discussing definitions of human rights, hope, peace, and activism. It was pretty exciting! 

A beautiful day on the streets of New York City!

After mingling for a few hours, we headed back to our hostel. For my first time staying in a hostel, I have to say it was a lot of fun! The hostel’s walls were painted with huge colorful abstract paintings. There was a game room, a living room, and a kitchen. Time at the hostel consisted of attempting to rest amidst very packed days, getting to know the twenty eight other students, cooking together, doing homework in the main room, and even watching a free and somewhat cringey comedy show in a small study area.

Me and a few other students in the program, on a beautiful sunny day!

We have class about four to five days a week. Class is quite unconventional, and I love it. We usually sit in a large circle, instead of behind desks, to engage in in-group discussions, participate in various activities, and wrestle through the assigned readings. Sometimes this looks like creating short plays, illustrating concepts on posters, sitting in silence or even journaling. 

Artistic mural on the side of a building.

In addition to class, we have done many group activities to help us prepare for the tough subjects we will be facing. This includes anti-oppression, mental health, and resilience trainings. Our group leaders continually emphasize the importance of both self-care and community-care. Also, we are learning how to be in touch with our emotions and our body through mindfulness and self reflection, helping us stay present through tough or potentially triggering conversations. Talking through human rights issues can be difficult and heavy. I am really impressed with the amount of training and preparation we have had upon entering this program, and am very excited to continue on!

Published by Kelly Fuhs

Class of 2020 SIT Jordan, Nepal and Chile Spanish, International Studies w/ minor in Peace and Justice

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