July 9, 2007
TCP group hosts
U.S. Social Forum
attendees from N.Y.
by Carol Clark
Iranya made coffins and served in the military in her native Nicaragua. She now works to ease health care disparities. Donielo is a high school athlete who loves basketball and is a whiz at impersonations, particularly Forrest Gump. He helped create a bill of rights for students at his school. Jose is from Ecuador. He is using his bilingual skills to help prevent labor abuses of immigrants.
The three were among the group of about 40 travelers from Make the Road by Walking, a social action group in Brooklyn, N.Y.,
who came to Atlanta for the U.S. Social Forum June 27 to July 1. They were housed during their stay in an Emory residence hall on the Clairmont Campus. Their hosts were members of an Emory Transforming Community Project community dialogue group, who welcomed the visitors with a catered barbecue dinner and a lively discussion.
Everyone in the room had a unique story to tell. What united them was the shared passion and energy to get involved in their communities, and to work toward making them better places for everyone to live.
“We just want people to hear each other and learn from one another,” said Sara Giordano, a graduate student in Emory’s department of neuroscience, who spearheaded the effort to host the visitors.
During the spring semester, Giordano was part of an Emory TCP group, which brings together people from across the campus to discuss issues of race and diversity. At the end of the semester TCP participants can apply for $300 mini-grants, to invest in a project to help transform the University’s racial dynamic.
When Giordano heard that Make the Road by Walking needed housing in order to attend the U.S. Social Forum, she proposed pooling some grants to come up with the needed funds. Ten members of her TCP group joined the pool, providing $3,000 to host the visitors.
“I kind of pushed this project because I think it’s important for Emory students, faculty and staff to see ourselves as part of a bigger community, and think of ways to share our resources,” Giordano said.
“This is one of the larger grants that we’ve given out, and we’re really pleased,” Jody Usher, co-director of the TCP, told the visitors from Brooklyn. “We’re delighted that you’re here.”
Ted Pettus, an instructor in the Emory School of Medicine and a TCP participant, was one of the hosts at the dinner, which included high school students who had formed a youth action group.
“Whether or not you’re interested in Emory, you should try learning about college admissions and applying for financial aid. You’d be amazed at the opportunities available,” Pettus told them.
He offered to give the visitors a tour of the admissions office and campus. When he asked how many would be interested, a dozen hands shots up.
Letitia Campbell, who is studying Christian ethics in Emory’s graduate division of religion, was one of the TCP members impressed by the visitors’ stories about how they are working to transform their Brooklyn neighborhood. “If you guys leave New York, you’re bringing great strength and knowledge wherever you go,” she told them. “You have these amazing experiences of organizing and you are a great resource.”