Love Among Those Seeking Voice

Students in São Paulo occupy a school. #ocupaescola
Students in São Paulo occupy a school. #ocupaescola

 

In these strident times when big headlines constantly dash across the news, it can be hard to see the love. The media paints every protester as angry and every different person as foreign. Locally, we argue over outcomes while we fight for the same pots of money.

Today, I got an update on a project I’m following in São Paulo, Brazil. You might remember that I spent some time there last year. I was brought there by the spectacular Lilian L’Abbate Kelian to talk about youth power, and thankfully, she’s kept me up to date on what continues to grow there.

This month, students throughout the state of São Paulo have occupied their schools in a large scale effort to get students a seat at the school reform conversations underway there. Taking over more than 90 schools, students are taking care of the spaces, continue providing services, and are attempting to negotiate with government education leaders. A judge has ruled their actions constitute a policy dilemma and not something for police to worry about; unfortunately, this hasn’t kept police away everywhere, and some of the students have been threatened.

All that is a simple, dry account of the work of the soul that these students are engaged in. They are feeling passionate, engaged and empowered to take drastic steps. They are demonstrating their sense of ownership and belonging in places they care deeply about. They are showing us love for their schools!

It gets better.

Today I received news that there is love among those who are struggling to find a voice. The MST, a movement of rural workers without land in Brazil, has decided to donate 1.000 liters of milk, 500 gallons of grape juice and 1.000 packets of chocolate milk to the students in order to support their occupation. At least five schools will receive the products of these farmers.

In São Paulo today, they are saying,

Long live the struggle of the students!
Long live the agrarian reform!
Long live the public school and free of quality!

That is love among those seeking a voice.

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