Letter: Bos-Lun motivated to 'do something' to address systemic problems

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Editor of the Reformer,

Last year I thought I was complimenting one of my students in the Governor's Institute of Vermont program for Current Issues and Youth Activism when I said, "Working with students like you gives me hope because I know your generation will figure out ways to fix the messes that mine made." She thanked me and added after a pause, "That's a lot to put on us. Why don't YOU do something?" The words of that student inspired me to restart the Westminster Town Democratic Committee last summer and now to run for office as a legislator in the Statehouse myself. I hear Una's voice reminding me, "Why don't you do something" and it motivates me to keep going, there is much to do! This year GIV's Youth Action program on line has been an invaluable opportunity for students and it has also deeply impacted my life, like the in-person institutes have each summer since 2016.

I again had the honor to work with high school students in the Governor's Institutes of Vermont program this year. Though our program was online for the first time, it was still deeply inspiring for all of us, both because of the student activists we worked with and the speakers who addressed our group. Vermont legislators interacted with our students, as did community leaders from organizations in our state and around the U.S. such as NAACP, Sunrise, and CASP. In addition to speakers such as Kesha Ram, Steffen Gillem, and Assadullah Akhlaqi from Vermont, we had guests from around the U.S. join us around LGBTQIA issues, housing insecurity, climate change, and racial justice. Students from Iraq, who had visited Vermont in youth exchanges I worked on, addressed the needs of refugees and IDPs as well as a program some of them started in Kurdistan to meet food needs that has reached over 1000 families. The past ten days were powerful examples not only of the challenges faced by our world, but of many actions individuals and communities, often led by youth, are taking to bring change and justice.

The students in the GIGIYA program were primarily Vermonters, but students from Ireland, Spain, and Iraq also participated. Together we talked about issues facing all us wherever we may be located. Students listened, asked questions, processed, and shared what was learned in various ways. One student wrote an article about his experience at a protest in Manchester after a journalist spoke to us and the student learned how to submit a press release. Other students made videos, wrote personal stories with universal messages, took photos, and created dramatic responses to process their varied experiences.

With the pandemic now and elections in August and November, there is enormous uncertainty for all of us in 2020. I am grateful to have spent the last 10 days working with youth who give me hope that we can and will find solutions to the giant systemic problems we are facing in Vermont and in our world. Change is possible when we all work together to make it happen.     

Sincerely,

Michelle Bos-Lun

Candidate for WIndham-4 House of Representatives Seat

Westminster, July 8

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