From the Leadership Institute Symposium on Social Change
Author: Saba Hafeez
My name is Saba Hafeez, I'm 17 ( a junior) from Sioux City, Iowa- attending a public high school with about 1600 students. I attended the Brown Leadership Institute last summer & took Conflict Resolution. I had an amazing experience & I learned so much about so many different things. I'm messaging you because I think I'm supposed to be keeping someone updated on my Action Plan, & it seems you've been the most active on the facebook group.
So my plan at Brown, was definately not sustainable & it wasn't something I was STRONGLY passionate about. I wanted to fundraise @ my school to raise money to plant trees in Pakistan & build water wells. I would keep donation boxes in classrooms with trustworthy teachers & this summer I was planning to go to Pakistan to complete the project & take pictures & interviews in Pakistan, and show them to the school that way there would be verification that I had done appropriate things with the money.
This plan is something I cared about, however it wasn't the only thing I cared about. It was also difficult for me to do, since circumstances have changed & I won't be going to Pakistan this summer, however my mom and two brothers will be.
I changed my plan when I got back from Brown. I created a Peace Group at my school. I had about 15 people come to the first meeting & it was a wide range of people (freshman-seniors, different ethnicities, and different groups of people were represented). The Peace Group is aimed to achieving peace in any way, whether it be internally, at home, in the school, in the community, state-wide, nation-wide, or even world-wide. Participants discuss issues that they really care about, and we try to tackle them in any way we can. The first thing we did, was something I saw on youtube, a "Free Hugs Campaign." I used facebook to spread the word & I had signs at school. It got alot of attention. We planned on have the event on Black Friday at our one any only mall. I went there at 10 AM that day with my sister & stayed till 5 PM. Other members did not show up, which was okay. My sister & I, walked around seperately with signs offering free hugs & got alot of positive responses. We would give the people hugs (that were okay with it), and simply tell them to offer another stranger a free hug. The Campaign recieved quite a bit of media attention since much local news medias were there covering Black Friday, also caught us in the act of giving free hugs. We also got on the Front Page of the local newspaper the next day. This was the first event we did & it wa sa huge success even though it was only my sister & I. It has inspired many at my school to try things like it. I keep getting asked when I'm having another Free Hugs Day, because more people want to participate in offering the free hugs.
After that, I didn't get alot of people showing up to meetings so I was stuck on what to do next. I wanted to show that a person can do good with having very little resources- which I believe that Free Hugs Campaign accomplished showing.
Currently, I'm raising $ for earthquake victims in Haiti. I have 7 History teachers, & I've made donations boxes, and make announcements to the students to donate money. I pick up donations at the end of every Friday & give the money to the American Red Cross. Within the first 3 days, students donated approximately $75- which I thought was great! However, there has been a decrease. The total is amounted at $120 approximately. I'm going to start making more personal announcements over the intercom to try & get people more inspired or motivated, because there's a quote that "Every little action causes a chain-reaction" & I believe it is so true.
Now, we will be moving into more election-related events. We will be having speakers running against Congressmen Steve King come to speak to anyone interested. I don't want to be biased, but the office of Democrats that are running against Steve King offered to come talk to a group of high school kids so I thought it would be a good opportunity for everyone. I'm also going to try to hold several voter registration drives for the mid-term elections coming up this November. I've held a voter registration driv ein the 2008 presdential elections and am aware on how to complete and perform the task.
The next thing, I hope to do, is to actually go back to my original action plan but keep it under my current plan. I want to have donation boxes (again) except this time the money will be going to planting trees & building water wells in Pakistan- or maybe re-developing a children's playground near my grandmother's home, because the neighborhood isn't as clean as it should be. I'm still debating on which issue the donations should go too...
Sooo that's about it! :)