Path to Social Justice & Food Justice

Help support my trip here: https://risingviolets.nyu.edu/project/4078

Food Justice: “the right of communities everywhere to produce, process, distribute, access, and eat good food regardless of race, class, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, ability, religion, or community.” -Brooklyn Movement Center


Context

I guess before I dive into my trip to Vietnam, I should probably give you all a little context into how I got to love what I do and why it was important for me to take this trip.

High School

I won’t try to dwell too much on this part…(But comment if you want more of a look into this part of my life!)

During my middle school years and early junior high years, I knew that helping people was something that I loved to do. My parents are very generous with their love, money, and time, and that eventually trickled down to both my twin brother and me. I’ll talk about my two biggest experiences in high school that helped shape the path that I’m walking on today and molded me into the person I am becoming:

My junior year in high school, I landed my first internship at Hands On Nashville. During my internship, I had the opportunity to plan and teach my own arts curriculum to school-aged kids at an after-school day care program. It was such a fun experience!

Crown by one of my students
One of my favorite projects was making crowns. One of my students made this for me!
After a great day where the HON interns set up a "fair" with all types of workshops for a local woman & children homeless shelter!
HON interns set up a “fair” with all types of workshops for a local woman & children experiencing homelessness. I got to do this alongside one of my closest friends, Emma ❤ 

One of the most memorable experiences at HON, was leading my first service site, for the Nashville community. BOY was I terrified! It was for Global Youth Service Day and my assignment was to lead a garden site in one of Nashville’s neighborhoods. We created a community garden that, once it flourished, would provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the families of the community. This, without knowing, would really be my first taste of my journey to with food outreach and justice, and social justice in general. 

Back in the daaaaayy, jk this is my junior year in high school leading my FIRST project on my own, focusing on growing healthier food in the local Nashville community. hmmm? foreshadowing my love for food justice maybe?
Back in the daaaaayy, jk this is my junior year in high school leading my FIRST project on my own, focusing on growing healthier food in the local Nashville community. hmmm? foreshadowing my love for food justice maybe?

Also, during my time at HON, we tried to start a movement #HypedonHelp:

My senior year, I landed my second internship with Bank of America. Although we had various financial/business training and sessions, the majority of my internship consisted of me teaching high schoolers about college and helping them learn about all the different opportunities out there. I loved this internship because I got to have my own classroom and design it. Also, I got to work closely with The Oasis Center in Nashville which I absolutely loved every moment of it and meeting the rest of the Bank of America interns from across the nation in D.C. was an experience I will never forget!

Making care packages for Veterans
Making care packages for Veterans
Me & the Nashville 2015 BOA crew in DC! Miss y'all so much!
Me & the Nashville 2015 BOA crew in DC! Miss y’all so much!

College

Moving to NYC over a year and a half ago has allowed me to expand my love of helping others into actively taking action and exploring my role in social justice. In high school, I’d just take part in community service but never really fully discuss what that service means to the community and how I can make sure my support for that service doesn’t stop there. Since my first step on the NYU campus(literally), I’ve been actively involved in Project Outreach, initially a week-long pre-college experience for incoming freshman exposing them to different social justice issues and community service opportunities in NYC. That week-long commitment personally turned into a year-long commitment and before I knew it, I was mentoring my second year. I hope to continue with it over the course of my four years here as this program did more than just mold me into who I am today, but also I feel set the course to who I am going to for years to come after college. Over this period of time, I’ve explored numerous social justice issues with a lot of focus on food outreach, homelessness, and education.

It was a cold day, but that didn't stop us from doing some service in Queens with some of my freshman year best friends that day!
It was a cold day, but that didn’t stop us from doing some service in Queens with some of my freshman year best friends that day!

Overview

Wherever I am, I want to learn about the community and figure out how I can be of help. When the opportunity to go abroad for a week to learn about other communities internationally, I jumped right on it. I sent in my application to NYU’s Alternative Breaks and was so excited when I was accepted! You’re not supposed to know where you will be going until after you have picked your social justice issue, and at Reveal Night, our group found out that we were, in fact, going internationally to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam! *cue SCREAMS*

I have never been further than the DRC and the west part of Europe, and it was going to be my first time in Asia! The price tag is high $1500, but for broadening my knowledge of food justice, and having the experience of a lifetime, I just knew in my heart I had to go.

Details emerged fast. And between the time we found out about Vietnam and the actual trip, it was about 3 months of preparation to go. We’d volunteering with IVHQ. During our week in Ho Chi Minh City, we would help provide up to 500 lunches daily to people from various backgrounds including poor elderly, low-income earners, disabled, poor students and children. More and more I became excited and nervous. I wanted to watch and study everything about Vietnam, but also I didn’t want to over analyze everything because I didn’t want to go into the trip with a closed-mind. When I embarked on this trip, among various things, I had studied the cultural manners of the country, the food we would be eating, and the history between Vietnam and the US. My biggest priority was that I was going to this country and being respectful towards the area and their culture.

Help support my trip here: https://risingviolets.nyu.edu/project/4078


“Food Justice is communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food. Healthy food is fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally-appropriate, and grown locally with care for the well-being of the land, workers, and animals.” -JustFood

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