The Sophomore NGO Panel

ngo pic
Photo Courtesy of Aaron Patterson

By: Aaron Patterson, James Garcia

New to the sophomore class this year, a panel of NGO workers came to speak to students. There were five guest speakers, all of whom spoke for 10 minutes on their specific organization. Once they were done, there was time for students to write questions, which the speakers would answer at the end.

The first speaker was Zina Besirevic, from Bosnia. She started off with a personal story about how she grew up during a civil war. The war affected her childhood and followed her into adulthood. This is what got Zina into an organization that focuses on helping human rights abuse around the world. When asked how she got through the difficult times during her childhood, Zina said “I’m going to get nowhere, I can’t survive. But I preserved and stayed strong and every moment was worthwhile.”

The second speaker was Lindsay Kauffman. As the granddaughter of a holocaust survivor, her cultural and religious narrative has a legacy of slavery and oppression, so she has made a lifelong commitment to fighting for social justice. The NGOs she works with focus on the trafficking of Eastern European women for prostitution, as well as the smuggling of African refugees. She wants to make a documentary on human trafficking in Israel.

The third speaker was Tina Shauf. Tina works with the community organization Babae, which is Filipino for woman. She has been in this in organization for the past four years and has participated in the formation of Gabriela USA. Their focus is on protecting the rights of Pinays and the issues of violence and the sex industry.

The fourth speaker was Cory Era-McGarvey who was born and raised in Ukiah, California. He works for two NGOs, one of which he helped start. He started his own NGO with a couple of his best friends, and he leads a yearly trip to Myanmar (Burma). Myanmar is a place where the government does not let citizens express their own opinions, especially where religion is concerned. The government tries to destroy the differences between communities. His goal is to build them back, because he believes freedom of opinion and belief is what sustains people.

The last speaker was Lyle Prijoles; he works for an NGO called BAYAN USA. He told a personal story about why he got into this NGO. He was a chauffeur for a Filipino woman, whom he became very close with. She told him that her son was kidnapped by Filipino soldiers. This kidnapping took place in the middle of the day at a mall. When the woman left for the Philippines, she said she wanted to see him one day, and suggested that maybe he could meet her son. To this day, her son still hasn’t been found, but she hasn’t given up. Many cases like this are happening in the Philippines all the time, and the government isn’t trying to stop it or help at all. That is why Lyle joined the fight, to help people like her.

When asked about the panel, sophomores Anna Franco and Paloma Wilkins said “it was informing, inspiring and great to learn about.”

Overall, this presentation was a great success and it helped sophomores think of what topics they would like to choose for their sophomore exhibition. Upcoming sophomores have something great to look forward to next year.

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