Building a Foundation for Social Justice

By Joseline Araujo
March 17, 2016

My name is Joseline Anne Araujo, and I am a Junior at Trinity Washington University (Class of 2017), majoring in Sociology and minoring in History. This summer I was very fortunate to be accepted to an exciting program called Just Advocacy Week by NETWORK here in the heart of the District of Columbia.

About five months earlier, Sr. Mary Johnson, a Trinity sister of Notre Dame, who is one of my favorite professors at Trinity Washington University, introduced me to this opportunity NETWORK was offering for a week in the summer. I was excited because Sr. Mary’s honors Theology course had me very interested in the social justice movement, and what better way to join than with a famous organization right here in DC! Sr. Mary provided me with the steps to apply and spoke to me about other opportunities that she had in mind. However, she strongly encouraged me to apply to the NETWORK program; I did and was accepted to participate in June.

There were 16 students from all over the country this year: Chicago, South Carolina, Georgia, Washington state, Maryland, and more. From the beginning of the program, there were many inspiring people like Rachel, Sarah, Allison, Collin and Sr. Simone Campbell to learn from and share our views about different social justice topics. Automatically our group was united, motivated, supportive and fun!

The entire goal of the week-long program was to become prepared with knowledge, personal experiences, and practice to lobby on Capitol Hill.  The issue we would lobby on was tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit . Our task was to speak to our senators and representatives from our home state about making the tax credits permanent and why we supported them personally and statistically. Aside from this main objective of the week, we also were able to see the D.C. monuments and the nation’s capital inside and out.

Advocacy, lobbying and spiritual awareness were all taught in this program. I learned how to spread solidarity and to create a change through the political world and bring this knowledge back into my own community. Anyone is able to lead and make a difference with strategy and passion.

At the end of the week, I learned about a possible internship at the NETWORK office during the following year. And gratefully I am now completing a wonderful internship with the Grassroots Mobilization Team and organizing the 2016 Just Advocacy Week program for NETWORK.

Our social justice work did not, however, stop at the end of the week. We were all instructed to envision a topic for a project to work on back in our hometowns and follow up with our NETWORK mentors in January. I am continuing to form this project and work on social justice issues with my community. All of the support, knowledge and experience earned from Just Advocacy Week were breath-taking and made me wish the program was longer than just a week. There is much to be done in the community and this opportunity to build a solid foundation changed my perspective on how to fight for social justice.

“When No One Else Stands, You Stand.” –Reverend Frederick D. Reese

Joseline Aruajo is a current NETWORK intern and a Junior at Trinity Washington University 

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