This was the last week of the internship program, and it could not have ended better! After spending the week in Atlanta, where the interns were able to visit the National Civil and Human Rights Centre and the King Center, we kicked off the week with focusing Art Camp on outer space and a nonviolence training in Greensboro with a local housing nonprofit. The rest of the week included trainings with Selma school teachers, Southern Poverty Law Center workers in Montgomery, Wallace Community College campus police officers, and Greensboro community members.
While I wasn’t at all the trainings, I heard extremely good reports on all of them. The non-profit and SPLC workers were extremely interested in the nonviolence curriculum, and the campus police officers were given the opportunity to talk about their jobs and the violence they see on campus. It’s been really beautiful to see the interns grow into their training positions and to get closer to the principles. They’ve really had an experience of self-discovery for where in their lives their values don’t line up with their behaviors and the places where they have internal violence. It’s been a really great experience to watch the nonviolence interns and the art camp interns work through some areas where they’re struggling and have the principles of nonviolence come to life for them and push them toward those areas.
This week was also full of Hairspray, as it was tech week and our performance was on Saturday night. This show has always meant a lot to me because of what it represents in the Civil Rights Movement, but also because it depicts a new level of freedom from oppression. So many people are bogged down with judgment and insecurities because of how they look, whether they’re bigger or black or whatever it may be. This show talks about the integration of Blacks and Whites, but it also shows the world that you don’t need to fit in to be extraordinary. Tracy never once believed that she didn’t deserve something because of her weight or because she believed in equality. I’ve struggled a lot throughout my life with my weight and appearance; I never truly believed that I deserved love or respect or whatever else because of how I looked. But playing this role really challenged me to lose that bad judgment and love myself for who I am. Tracy really challenged me to believe my worthiness and I was able to break free and listen to her.
We’re taking the show to Wisconsin to do at one of our partner schools there, and I’m so excited to show the freedom of RATCo, a freedom I’ve gained this summer, to a group of college students. I know what it’s like to constantly judge ourselves the way a college environment teaches us to. We’re worthy because of our grades, parties, dates, looks, the club or group we’re in, and it’s all lies! Those things do not dictate our worth, and there is a freedom that is taken away from college students because of that pressure. It’s a freedom that was taken away from me, until this summer, and I’m so excited to show Tracy’s freedom to a group of kids in a very similar environment to what I’ve experienced!
Sam Lee ’16