human rights

Introducing Our Newest Board of Advisors Member: Scott DeLisi

We are so happy to welcome Ambassador DeLisi onto our Board of Advisors! DeLisi served as United States Ambassador to Uganda, Nepal, and Eritrea and now heads the Soarway Foundation. In a reflection on joining Team MCN, DeLisi wrote:

"In countries across the world today we hear people voice concerns about the 'ticking time bomb' posed by the youth who comprise, sixty, seventy or even eighty percent of their national population.  In many of these nations the young people who comprise the bulk of society are excluded from political leadership and remain marginalized.  They struggle to live lives of dignity and productivity and to have their voices heard.  Inadequate education, health care, and job opportunities fuel anger and disillusionment.  Often dismissed or discriminated against because of their age, gender, race, ethnicity, or faith, they believe that the narrative of their future will be one of hopelessness and despair.

We know that we must help to change that narrative but the problems are daunting and if experience is a guide, beyond the ability of governments alone to solve. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are a step in the right direction but more is needed. As global citizens we need to build new partnerships, become more entrepreneurial in our problem-solving, and recognize that youth are not a problem to be solved or a force to be feared but a resource to be engaged and encouraged. 

The Millennium Campus Network understands this and I am inspired by their effort to harness the energy, innovative thinking and passion of young people to meet the challenges that will define their generation. MCN empowers young people across the globe to become constructive agents of change in the effort to tackle social and economic development issues that transcend national boundaries.  Action oriented, and recognizing the importance of ethical and value-driven engagement, MCN is helping to build a generation of international leaders and partners who understand that our shared effort can make a difference.  We can touch lives, change lives, and save lives.  We can break cycles of poverty and despair.  But it will take energy, passion, determination and vision.  That is what the Millennium Campus Network offers and that is why I am honored to be part of the MCN movement."

Welcome to MCN, Ambassador DeLisi!

 

Millennium Fellow Spotlight

Kayle Valdez is a sophomore at Miami Dade Honors College, studying English and education. In the future, Kayle hopes to establish a middle school that no only focuses on academic education, but that is also rooted in world issues, grounded in an environment that encourages community involvement. As the Outreach Director of Human Rights Alliance at Miami Dade, Kayle has already demonstrated a passion for global issues and her unwavering dedication to more wide spread education regarding social issues...

LGBTQ Asylum & the Global Refugee Crisis

 by Alex, AsylumConnect Secretary

On October 20th, the Millennium Campus Network (MCN) hosted a webinar with AsylumConnect on LGBTQ Asylum and the refugee crisis. I am the Secretary for the AsylumConnect team, which is part of the Millennium Campus Network's Peace Campaign. We had two fantastic speakers for the webinar, both of whom are advisors to AsylumConnect.

Fernando Chang-Muy is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and an expert in refugee law and policy. He gave attendees an overview of how the U.N. and the U.S. defined a refugee as a person who is unwilling or unable to return to his or her home country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion. LGBTQ asylum seekers cite the “social group” part of the definition as to why they have a fear of persecution.

Missed the live forum? Watch the recording here!

Chang-Muy took several questions from the audience, and one person asked if there is a refugee cap that the United States is willing to accept. Chang-Muy explained that the cap is 70,000 people divided between the 5 parts of the world (South America, Africa, etc.). The President said he would raise it to 80,000 people for the next year, and 10,000 spots will be reserved for Syrian refugees. It is the President who determines this cap. And the allotment divided throughout the world is fluid. If more spots are needed for a particularly war-torn area, the allotment for a peaceful part of the world can be minimized.

Trying to prove you are actually LGBTQ can be a challenge. Sometimes the only evidence is your own word.

Chang-Muy also spoke to the particular challenges LGBTQ asylum seekers face. Trying to prove you are actually LGBTQ can be a challenge. Sometimes the only evidence is your own word. For example, if you were in the closet in your home country, you do not have anyone to testify on your behalf. Also, it can be hard to prove you will be persecuted in your country of origin. Perhaps a country may seemingly be LGBTQ-friendly in its urban or tourist areas, but LGBTQ people could be severely discriminated against in rural areas.

Jacque Larrainzar, another AsylumConnect advisor, also spoke to her experience as an LGBTQ Refugee/Immigrant Outreach Specialist at Seattle Counseling Service (SCS). Larrainzar is the first lesbian from Mexico to receive asylum in the U.S. due to sexual orientation, and knows first hand how hard the process can be. She applied in 1997 and it took three years to be completed. Her current work includes creating specific training for mental health providers on the specific needs of asylees or immigrants or undocumented immigrants.  Larrainzar gave a great anecdote about her conversation with a girl in her 20's who is an asylee from Somalia. One thing she wants people to understand is that LGBTQ asylees are resilient, and should be acknowledged for their strength in overcoming adversity.

LGBTQ asylees are resilient, and should be acknowledged for their strength in overcoming adversity.

Finally, Katie Sgarro, Co-founder of AsylumConnect, spoke about what her organization is working on. AsylumConnect is a volunteer initiative that will seek to provide LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. with lifesaving online informational resources. We are working towards creating the first website and mobile app to feature an online, centralized database of service providers useful to LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. The AsylumConnect catalog will help persecuted LGBTQ people find basic human needs resources upon their arrival in the U.S. It is estimated that our work will benefit 300,000 LGBTQ asylum seekers. We are currently working on a model of the catalog focused on services in Seattle, Washington.

Stay tuned for the next MCN webinar by AsylumConnect and visit www.asylumconnect.org to learn more about us.

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Solidarity Share - Human Trafficking

This "Solidarity Share" was presented as part of a Keynote Plenary at the 7th Annual Millennium Campus Conference. Solidarity Shares were created by pairs of Delegates from different communities across the globe working together to find shared points of struggle, joy, and connection. We hope their stories inspire you to connect across borders, to see the ways that struggles in your community might benefit from solidarity with another.  

Alejandra Colmenero and Laura-Jane Watkins

Denver, Colorado and Bloemfontein, South Africa

My name is Alejandra Colmenero, and I am from Denver, Colorado. In my community, human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is a challenge.

The Center for Public Policy Studies has stated that from the year 2010 until now, law enforcement investigates an average of 100 cases annually in the Denver metro area.

Statistics from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center show that there have been 19 cases of human trafficking in my state this year alone; these include labor trafficking in Northern Colorado, and sex trafficking throughout the state.

We can fight this issue by first being educated on the subject, and taking simple steps such as being prepared to help by calling the national human trafficking hotline.

And we must remember that the roots of human trafficking are a result of many injustices combine that leave people vulnerable to becoming victims; poverty, discrimination, and lack of opportunities for people, especially women and girls, are some of them – and all these injustices can be prevented.

My name is Laura-Jane Watkins and I am Bloemfontein, South Africa. Mine is a community where privilege and poverty walk side-by-side but rarely hand-in-hand. South Africa's history of gross race and gender based discrimination  has entrenched socio-economic disparities.

Poverty is a breeding-ground for violence and when a sever lack of education co-exists in this environment it exacerbates inequality, fueling estimates such as every 36 seconds a woman is raped countrywide.

Mine is a community where the exploitation of common customary practices such as 'ukuthwala' have produced a society that stereotypes women as expendable commodities.There is hope however, in solidarity. Through education and awareness we can protect the vulnerable members of society and empower communities to dismantle discriminatory norms.

 

Our respective locations may be far removed, but our passion to see justice and equality for all humanity is as close as our hearts will carry us.

Together, we have the power to challenge our everyday actions, and bring equality and justice to our lives, our community, and the world.

Our challenge is your challenge.