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SOMOS Hosts Social Justice Conference at MIT

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This week, we hosted a social justice-themed youth conference titled "Your Voice, Your Choice, Your Power" at the Mathson Institute of Technology.  Students from the school's Youth Leadership group are the ones who suggested the breakout session topics, and then helped emcee, host, and organize the day's events.

The excitement and energy in the multi-purpose room was high, as hundreds of middle school students poured in and took their seats. Dr. Victor Rios was the keynote speaker, and shared his inspiring life story of immigrating to the States at a young age, growing up poor, and turning towards education as a way to overcome obstacles and create his dream life. The students were captured by his passion, and it set the tone for the day-long conference focused on empowering young leaders. Students eagerly listened to the remarks that followed from Superintendent Dr. Hilaria Bauer and community organizer Victor Vasquez, and student emcees Kimberly, Cassandra, and Nestor kept the energy up.

After the opening ceremony, students broke out into smaller sessions to learn about topics ranging from "Positive Body Image" to "Understanding DACA," and "College Culture" to "Direct Action." Volunteers and local leaders stepped up to the plate, and facilitated hour-long conversations, workshops, and activities to engage with students on issues that kids in the Mayfair are thinking about every day, even as middle school students. Everybody swapped classrooms once the hour was up, and all got to participate in a second workshop.

It was so rewarding to hear students excitedly tackle these big issues, and even more impressive to remember that the entire event started from a push by MIT students, who were asking to learn more about social justice and other relevant issues.

Thank you to the inspiring young students who made this happen, the staff at MIT for so graciously supporting this vision, and all the amazing guests and speakers who volunteered their time to share their insight and lead an incredible array of breakout sessions.

Chelsey Cartwright