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Empower Students Present at Harvard!

Our Vision, Community

February 20, 2019

Imagine you're 13 years old. You're in 8th grade and you just spent the last year building your dream high school from the ground up. Suddenly, you're standing in one of the most prestigious universities delivering your story and articulating your thoughts brilliantly. Just another day for Devina! 

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Earlier this month, Empower student leaders, Devina and Jalil, boarded a plane for the first time. They were headed to Harvard's Graduate School of Education where they were asked to speak about their vision for liberatory education and the importance of Ethnic Studies at Empower.

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After arriving in Boston, we spent hours reading, discussing, and analyzing so we were prepared to speak truth and share our genius. 

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We arrived at Harvard with butterflies fluttering heavily in our stomachs. As we waited outside the doors of Dr. Aaliyah El-Amin's class, Educating to Transform Society – Preparing Students to Disrupt and Dismantle Racism, we could hear graduate students watching the last few minutes of the documentary Precious Knowledge. This course is intended for educators in any position (policy, school leadership, teaching artist, non-profit management) who want to position students to act against racial injustice. Jalil and Devina were ready to inspire them!
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Devina told a story about her grandfather to explain why she is determined to learn her own history.LRG_DSC01297 She explained, "For me, building Empower is about making sure my community is critically consciousness. That makes them aware of their worth and the power of their voice. I want them to find the missing pieces of the map of their history so they know which path leads to our liberation." As she finished her story, the room erupted in applause. 

 

 "Hello Harvard, I just want to say thanks to your learners for their input and questions pushing us to dig deeper. Special thanks to your teacher who orchestrated this wonderful experience through the network of Empower's staff. I'm thankful for this great opportunity to visit an unfamiliar world. Special shout-out to the individuals who spoke with me personally (especially my guy with the dreads and glasses). What you said gives me hope beyond comprehension." -Jalil Carter

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Graduate students were eager to talk to Jay and Devina one-on-one after the class ended. As we packed up and headed out for ice cream in Harvard Square, Devina smiled and said, "It's good for me to be here today, at Harvard, that way they're ready for me when I attend as a Freshman in four years."

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Whose world is this? At Empower, there's only answer to that question: "The world is ours." And you've got to see the world to believe that. Looking forward to more powerful trips with our founding class of 9th graders.