Peace Building and Dialogue: Prophetic Call for Peace

This past August I had the privilege of attending the “The Prophetic Calling for Peace: Ecumenical Students and Youth for Sustainable Peace in the Korean Peninsula” peace conference put on by WSCF. Gathered with students and young adults from across the Asia Pacific, including Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Taiwan, we discussed the future of peacebuilding not just on the Korean Peninsula but in our home countries as well.

Peacebuilding is counterintuitive to our neoliberal nation-states, which use intimidation and coercion to ensure “negative peace,” meaning peace without forms of direct violence such as a literal end to the war. However, “negative peace” is not true peace. Looking at South Korea, we saw how the legacy of war, colonialism, and the military-industrial complex has plagued Korean society. We saw how women and other marginalized groups are effected first and the most, both directly and indirectly, by these forms of violence. We spoke with new friends whose families have literally been divided by the division of the Peninsula, whose family histories carry large blanks. We spoke of the misogyny propagated by Korean society, looking at the Comfort Women’s struggle as forced sexual slaves by the Japanese military, how it contributed to the #MeToo movement prominent right now in the country, and how the mandatory conscription of young men feeds the patriarchal powers.

“Positive peace” is a world free from all forms of violence. It is anti-oppressive, feminist, and grassroots. We truly believe, by rejecting the destructive powers of anxiety, fear, control, and greed, that true peace can be achieved on the Peninsula. But, why stop there? How can what our Korean siblings have to teach us to be applied to our relationships with the Indigenous communities of North America? How can we work towards a new relationship between People of colour and “white” people?

True peace is intersectional and unwavering; it is not satisfied with partial justice. It is also built over a long time, with the intention of lasting. It requires challenging conversations with allies and enemies. It requires not just the oppressor to be changed, but the oppressed as well. The scariest thing about true peace is that no one is left unmoved by it.

I encourage you to read the communiqué by the delegation. It speaks to our learnings and dreams in a much fuller way than I ever could alone. It is also my hope that it may inspire you, to learn more about the issues on the Korean Peninsula, to connect with WSCF doing amazing work worldwide, and to begin to see the opportunities for conversation and relationship in your own community. Peace worker requires passionate, determined dreamers who can look ahead to the future we can build together. Hopefully, you’re one of them.

Selina Mullin

SCM Canada student leader 2018

February Good News

We are starting a new year with the faith and the commitment to ensure the WSCF-NA continues to be a community of students and young adults committed to embodying the radical and prophetic voice for peace, social, economic, gender and ecological justice. 
 
We will send a monthly update of what we have done, what we are planning and what where we are going to do. However, we pray that this newsletter is not just a one-way street of communications, but also you will be in touch with us. Send us your stories, accomplishments and upcoming events so that we can share with the wider community communications@wscfna.org. Also, we encourage you to follow us on our social media channels Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
 
So far we are off to a flying start as we celebrated our Board Meeting January 5th through to the 6th in Ottawa, Canada. In addition to discussing plans and ideas for the year, the time was spent sharing in fellowship and growing a deeper connection throughout the board.

In Solidarity,

Yenny Delgado
Regional Executive for North America
Global Program Director for Advocacy and Solidarity

Your Faith on Feminism Program Report

Your Faith on Feminism was a conference held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in October 2017 that brought together people from countries including Canada, the U.S., India, and Mexico to explore the intersection of faith and feminism.

Read the Program Report for reflections on workshops held, a conference schedule, resolutions, thank yous, as well as the WSCF-NA Statement on Gender Identity and Sexuality.

Read the report here.

Introducing Yenny Delgado

Yenny Delgado - WSCF

Yenny Delgado is serving as the new Regional Executive and Program Director for Advocacy and Solidarity for WSCF-NA.

WSCF North America Welcomes new Regional Executive and Program Director for Advocacy and Solidarity

The WSCF-NA Regional Committee is delighted to announce that Yenny Delgado has accepted the position of WSCF-NA Executive and Program Director for Advocacy and Solidarity. Yenny joined the WSCF North American Region on January 4. In her new role, she will continue the work of Luciano Kovacs, who served in this position for the last 10 years.

Yenny is a psychologist, theologian, activist, writer, and educator. She first became engaged with advocacy work through the student Christian organization in Peru (AGEUP) where she participated as a student, leader and later as a staff member.

Yenny earned her Masters in International Development, a Public and Nonprofit Management Certificate, and has more than a decade of experience working with young movements, local organizations, and churches. She has co-founded Umbrella Initiatives Foundation, a non-profit has been focused on social justice issues, equal opportunity, and access to education in Latin America and the United States.

Yenny hopes to see WSCF recognized with a growing number of churches, universities, and nonprofits throughout North America, as well as see more leadership and global perspective development for young leaders.

“I would like to thank the Search Committee for their hard work and dedication selecting our new Regional Executive. Yenny comes to us with years of experience and will help the North American Region and the WSCF implement our strategic short-term and long-term goals. On the behalf of the North American Regional Council I look forward to working with Yenny throughout her tenure and welcome her to the WSCF Family.”

Logan Boese NARC U.S. Co-Chair & Chair of the Search Committee

Our Stories: Zillah Wesley II

Inequality is everywhere, if we look closely enough. At least, that’s what Zillah Wesley has experienced, and what has motivated her to get involved in faith and social justice work with the World Student Christian Federation.

Growing up in Washington D.C., Zillah Wesley saw inequality first-hand in the school system. When she went to work with her father, an inner-city art teacher, she noticed a very different environment than she experienced at private school.

“I saw disparities,” she explained. “I had the epiphany that because of money, people were having different surroundings and different outcomes.”

Something stirred inside of her.

Fast forward to today, where she has joined in the struggle for equality both in the United States and abroad through her work with WSCF, as Communications Chair on the WSCF-NA Regional Committee.

It was just over one year ago, when Zillah and a team from WSCF travelled down to the United States and Mexico border in solidarity with Latin American migrants.

“The Border Solidarity trip gave me a new view on immigration – it’s not really a black and white issue,” she said. “They have taken the humanity out of a whole group of people.”

During the trip, she joined with hundreds of others to hold a vigil and rally outside Eloy Immigrant Detention Center, a private and controversial jail in Arizona known for holding Latin American migrants. The vigil was in memory of the 15 people who died while in detention at the facility since 2003 – with a rally in solidarity with the prisoners.

“It was intense. Thousands of people were there. You could see the shadows [of the prisoners] through the windows. They were waving their blankets and making noise.” She also attended a vigil on the US-Mexico border. As participants gathered together from both sides of the border, she joined the vigil from Mexico,

“A lot of people are about their own country, and nationalism. We are a global society, it shouldn’t be like that,” she explained. “WSCF has helped me get an international perspective on issues.They are working for love and humanity.”

“Social justice through a Christian lens is important, and I feel a lot of people forget about that. Jesus was out on the streets, you know. Jesus was with the people, about the people.”

We’re looking for a Fundraising Chair

Letter of Call and Application


Fundraising Chair for Regional Committee/Board of Directors

Letter of Call and Application (PDF)

The World Student Christian Federation-North America Regional Committee, the highest decision body of the WSCF-North America in between Regional Assemblies and board of a nonprofit organization registered in the State of New York, is looking for the Chair of Fundraising to join our leadership. We are looking for an individual who is highly motivated, willing to work with a team and on their own, and detail oriented. Working with the regional leadership team the Chair for Fundraising will have an opportunity to help enact social change, learn and lead with ecumenical partners, and assist in the development of Student Christian Movements.

The Fundraising Chair is responsible to support the Regional Executive, the Program Chairs and the North American Regional Committee in identifying potential financial sources for the region, writing grant proposals and appeal letters and planning a fundraising strategy for the WSCF. The chair of Fundraising is elected for a two years’ term.

Position: Chair of Fundraising
Organization: The World Student Christian Federation-North American Region, Inc.

Qualifications:
• Knowledge of the Mission, Values, and History of the WSCF
• Experience/Affiliation with a Student Christian Movement (SCM) or Church Youth/Young Adult Organization
• Experience serving on an executive level team Collegiate level or above Position

Description:
The Chair of Fundraising of the World Student Christian Federation is a volunteer position and serves as a legal board member of the Corporation. The Chair of Fundraising sits on the board together with three officers, two Global Executive Committee members, four other regional programmatic chairs, denominational at-large members and the Executive for North America as ex-officio.

Duties and Expectations:
• Responsible for chairing the WSCF-NA Fundraising Working Group and for helping implement regional and global fundraising strategies.
• Responsible for production of fundraising material for WSCF-NA events and programs
• Responsible for identifying intersectional working areas with other programmatic chairs
• Expected to attend all-conference calls and meetings of the board (in average online meetings every two months and one in-person meeting every 18 months)
• Expected to contribute to decision making of the board of the NARC.
• As a full member of the WSCF Regional Committee, the Fundraising Chair will be able to become involved in programmatic work of the WSCF, which includes Leadership Training Programs, Regional and Global events as well as regional and global thematic working groups (i.e Advocacy and Solidarity, Bible and Theology, Eco-justice, Interfaith Engagement, Racial Justice, Gender and LGBTQ rights, etc).
• Expected to contribute financially to the WSCF based on means.

The North American Regional Committee of the WSCF is responsible:
a. To provide a forum for the development of a North American Regional identity;
b. To provide leadership and support at the Regional level for work within the Region;
c. To support struggles for justice, liberation, and human fulfillment that are going on within the Region and to interpret these struggles to the churches in North America and to the rest of the WSCF;
d. To serve as a channel of communication among the various student movements in the Region;
e. To provide a means for expressing solidarity with the work of other movements and regions of the WSCF;
f. To initiate projects which involve concerns of member movements in both countries of the Region

Selection Process
The selection process will be handled by the WSCF-NA board, which will examine the applications and interview the shortlisted candidates. According to the NARC internal guidelines, members of the NARC should strive to reflect differing gender identities, sexualities, races/ ethnicities, denominational and geographic backgrounds and no more than two members of NARC may be 35 years or older and those over 35 must be part-time or fulltime student at the time of their election.

Application Due: November 15, 2017

Application information is including in the following document:
Application Form & Letter of Call (PDF)

The Un-Settling Work of Indigenous Solidarity: A North American Perspective

By Jacqueline Sookermany, SCM Canada

For four days this June a small group of students and WSCF/SCM staff members gathered in my resident city of Winnipeg, Canada for the Indigenous Solidarity Program, where we spent time learning about Indigenous culture from Indigenous members of the community and explored what it means to stand in solidarity with our Indigenous neighbours. Winnipeg is not a common travel destination and has a reputation for being cold and inhospitable for much of the year (with a nickname like Winterpeg there isn’t a lot of tourist draw), but with the highest provincial population of Indigenous people in Canada, and 40% of that population living in the city of Winnipeg, it is a unique space well suited for a conference of this nature. With the mix of cultures and communities in this small city has to offer, there are rich resources for learning about Indigenous culture, learning from Indigenous communities, and exploring the ways in which settlers and the Indigenous communities have come together to work toward reconciliation, as well as to hear from the communities where we, as settlers, have more work to do.

Our group was a diverse mix of settlers born in North America (6 from Canada, 1 from the US) and more recent settlers (from the UK, Italy, and Nigeria), each bringing their own perspectives and experience from their personal, educational and professional backgrounds. The diversity of our group allowed us to expand our definition of what Indigenous culture and solidarity looks like and to make connections slightly beyond the North American Indigenous scope to look at Indigenous issues in Nigeria and issues facing the African-American communities in the US. These stories added depth to our discussions about what solidarity and activism looks like beyond our immediate context, while also showing the ways in which each community faces their own distinct struggles in overcoming colonization, corrupt power structures, and discrimination.

We began our conference learning about the land we would be calling home for the next four days, Canadian Mennonite University. Our first speakers, Annika Reynar and Michael Veith, shared the history of the land we were on with us, a history spanning from its original inhabitants– the Saulteaux and Cree Nations– and the earliest settlers of the Selkirk Treaty to the present day University and its adjoined urban farm. We also discussed the problems of placeness and story when taken out of context or prescribed unfit meaning; how truth can get lost when we lose the collectiveness of storytelling and history keeping and instead focus on our own perspective fragments of the whole. Starting our time together sitting on the University’s farm, hearing part of the story of how we came to be there, parts of the story that we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, set the tone for the rest of the week-understanding that our stories as settlers goes far beyond the spans of our own lives. In addition to our introduction to the land, the following morning we were graciously welcomed to the land by Elder Theodore Fountaine, who would later share his own story of residential schools, as well as his vision of what Canada’s reconciliation should look like.

Through the remainder of the week there was sharing from other conference participants including the journey of the Christian Peacemaker Teams’ Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights and a bible study focusing on reconciliation (from the text: 1Kings 21:1-1). We also heard from our other guests, such as Indigenous artist Heather Bjorklund, who led our group in Indigenous storytelling, drama, and dance exercises and Adrienne Leitch, who spoke to us about the documentary project she collaborated on, Reserve 107, which looks at community facilitated reconciliation efforts between rural Saskatchewan settlers and the Young Chippewayan Nation members whose land they live on. During our conversation cafe and Senior Friends event facilitated by Elder Fountaine, we heard about Elder Fountaine’s experience in Residential schools and how his time there
impacted his family and relationships throughout his life. He shared with us some reading from his book, Broken Circle, and told us about his vision for repairing relationships between Canadian settlers/government and Indigenous peoples. The conversation cafe was also a time for people to share their experiences, ask questions, and to showcase an art project featuring the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission embroidered onto Canadian flags. This session was very moving and it was an honour to listen and share with Elder Fountaine.

One of the most impactful experiences for me was walking with the Bear Clan Patrol- a group of community members who patrol Winnipeg’s North End every evening to pick up drug paraphernalia and check in with community members. We started our evening attending a weekly event called Meet Me at the Bell Tower- a community check in where North End community members rally together to end violence and poverty in the community. We were able to participate in a smudge and drum song there, before heading out on patrol.

Walking through a part of my city that I rarely go to, with people who are invested, passionate, and knowledgeable about their community was inspiring. Seeing how Bear Clan members make a conscious effort to reach out to every person they pass while on patrol and how trusted they are in their community as service members and friends was a prime example of what it means to be an active member of community and how we can create change through relationships and intentionality.

Sharing in these experiences and learning along side each of the amazing people who participated in the Indigenous Solidarity Program was a blessing. Being able to take on the role of listener and learner as part of my journey of activism and social justice work was so important, as these roles can sometime be put on the back burner. This experience renewed my commitment to stand beside and not in front of my Indigenous friends and neighbours, creating space for them to speak into our shared community and advocating for their leadership in solidarity work.

Request for Solidarity after Hurricane Irma hit Cuba

A message from WSCF-LAC:

On September 7th, Hurricane Irma, the most powerful on the Atlantic according to the the Saffir-Simpson Scale (category 5) with winds at its center ranging between 250-295 km/h, arrived to the Republic of Cuba after generating material damage and loss of life in several countries and Caribbean islands.

DONATE TO WSCF-LAC HERE

In Cuba, 12 of the 15 provinces were affected by the hurricane. Damage stood out in infrastructure of housing, losses which affect food due to ruined crops and poultry complex, problems with food and electricity supply systems due to damage from power plants, as it is the case of the Matanzas’ thermoelectric, being this one of the most affected regions in the island along with the provinces of La Habana, Ciego de Ávila and Villa Clara in the west central Cuba. Losses and serious damages are also reported in the north coast that affected the hotel-touristic complex of Cuba, which is one of the main sources of economic income. This in addition to the crisis and mobilization of evacuated people that the hurricane has caused.

“Ten people dead, destroyed towns, thousands of fallen trees, serious damages in the generation and transmission of electricity, in the supply of drinking water and in the housing, besides strong flooding from storm surges, left the powerful hurricane Irma in Cuba, between Friday 8th and September 10th,” SEMlac reported in their newsletter.

Evacuees: According to reports from the authorities the passage of Hurricane Irma by Cuba forced the evacuation of 1’738.000 people, 86% of them in houses of relatives and friends. It was also reported that more than 26thousand people are still in evacuation centers.

Energy Sector: The strongest and most difficult impact to solve in the sector was suffered by the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric power plant in Matanzas, which house of circulation of sea water, key in the cooling system, was destroyed by the waves. Besides, 15 transmission lines suffered damage and more than 3600 poles and 2039 kilometers of lines were affected. Around 90 oil wells, located in the on the north coast of the west and center, were also broken by the strong waves which the hurricane caused. Currently, the restoration of the electric service will be focused in the provinces of Villa Clara and Ciego de Ávila.

Housing and Infrastructure: According to the Ministry of Construction, the major damages caused by the hurricane are concentrated in housing, especially by roofs that were flown.

Agriculture: It was found that the most serious damage in agriculture is concentrated in the poultry area, because dozens of birds destined to the production of eggs lost their sheds. Also according to the Ministry of Agriculture was explained that processing of feed, plantain and corn crops, as well as fruit crops have been affected. Currently, the work in reactivation of the countryside in several crops is being intensified, and it has been reported that there are seeds, fertilizers and pesticides are available for that purpose.

Public Health: It was reported that the health system maintained its vitality during the passage of the hurricane and to date there are no outbreaks of contagious diseases in evacuation centers or in any territory. It was announced that 516 health units were damaged and work is being done to restore them in the shortest time possible. Additionally it was announced that now priority will be given to environmental sanitation and vector control.

Tourism: on the damages to tourism when the hurricane hit the island there were more than 51 thousand vacationers, around 45 thousand of them were located in the north cost. The tourism sector is one of the most generating economic income and employment in Cuba, damage to infrastructure and recovery is one of the biggest challenges in the upcoming Cuban tourist season. This creates uncertainty thousands of employments and the direct source of income of the population of the most damaged zones.

Updates on the Students of the Student Movement of Cuba:

“It has been a habit of the Movement to mobilize us to offer help in areas most affected by emergent disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. This time will not be different, we are evaluating how we can get to the cities of the center of the island which had the biggest damages (North of Villa Clara, Yaguajay-Sancti Spíritus, and Ciego de Ávila) to work with people and affected vulnerable groups “Elderly people who live alone, persons with disabilities, children in situations of poverty, etc. ” (…) “In the same way, we are worried about what we are already experiencing in regards to food supplies for the population. Agriculture and tourism are two essential sources to generate money and food. The country will have to invest a lot in materials to re-build, while the unemployment generated by the stagnation of tourism services and the recovery of agricultural production will lead us to a period of scarcity and of rising of prices which will affect most of all to those, that as I was saying, represent the most vulnerable sector of the Cuban society.”

Tells us Dianet de la C. Martínez Valdés, president of the SCM of Cuba confirming also that there has been a calling to coordinators of the local groups who are in Sancti Spíritus, La Habana, Cienfuegos, Cárdenas, Matanzas, San Nicolás and Santiago de Cuba and it has been verified that they are all right, although some of the students and young people of the different local groups have had damage in their houses. Besides the SCM of Cuba is preparing for their next regional workshop on leadership training in the west of Cuba, in September 21 to 23, were they will plan the next steps in the agenda of solidarity and mobilization.

From the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), considering the consequences caused by the Hurricane Irma and the emerging situations that are rising in the reconstruction and recovery stage, we extend a call for solidarity to WSCF friends, Student Christian Movements (SCMs) and the fraternal organizations to participate in the collection carried out by the WSCF to assign to the work of the SCM of Cuba in the process of recovery, social and material accompanying in the zones that were damaged the most and in the 7 cities were the movement develops its work with young people and students.

All that is collected will be used to directly support affected communities, primarily by targeting the most vulnerable people including children, the elderly, people with reduced mobility and following the advice of the SCM of Cuba a possible way to contribute would be through food, personal and household hygiene pack.

DONATE TO SCM-LAC HERE

Read full PDF here: Solidarity Appeal Huracan Irma – Cuba WSCF LAC