Team SAWC attended the Midwest Academy Organizing training (Only If We Organize: Conversations on Social Change) at Tufts University on February 11, 2019. Thanks to Wylie Chang an undergrad student at Tufts for organizing this event and inviting the local community organizers to share their views and stories.
While Beth Hung highlighted the specifics of Midwest organizing strategies, participants gathered in small group workshops to address some of the very pressing issues we all are affected by in some ways.
SAWC’s coordinators participated in the group discussion on the ongoing negotiations by Tufts University dining hall workers to obtain affordable health insurance for their families, among other issues. Student activists commended the workers’ tenacity, while students supported the workers in any actions needed to get a fair contact, including a possible strike, even though this outcome would be difficult for the people involved.
Jean Dorce, a graduate student at University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB) and a SAWC volunteer, shared his view on the hike in tuitions, health care, and parking, which are huge burdens on working class students. Jackie (SAWC coordinator) appreciated the UMB community’s struggle against these hikes as she dreams of her daughters going to UMB one day and wonders if she can afford to send them to public university. She is not sure if UMB caters to the needs of immigrant community and their children. In the ensuing discussion, Jackie suggested car-pooling as one option to beat the hike in parking rates, with the added bonus that people could use this time together to do some strategic thinking about such pressing issues.
The point of the Midwest Academy training is not only that diverse people get to know each other, but that in doing so they realize that their problems, though different, have common causes and common solutions. Through meeting and strategic planning, people tend to see connections between their issues, their organization, and the economic and political system - a philosophy which SAWC follows in organizing the South Asian immigrant community in Boston.