FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Nanook Diversity and Action Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks hosts student led discussions surrounding issues they feel are important and the community should know about.
On Thursday January 16th, the center held a meeting in the UAF Wood Center focused on the culture of activism and the misconceptions that come with it.
Samantha Feemster, the host of the conversation, led the group of ten using her recent volunteer work in Greece as an example.
“There’s this really strange understanding in our culture that the only type of voluntarism that makes sense is the kind that happens really far away,” Feemster said, “and for some reason that’s awarded extra status.”
According to Jo Malbert, the center’s Diversity and Inclusion coordinator, Feemster impacted the group by bringing attention to a global issue through a local lens.
“This is the first time that we have had a discussion about Syrian refugees,” Malbert said, “It’s very easy for us to feel siloed in our own little bubble.”
Feemster looks back on her experience volunteering for a refugee aid group in Greece with mixed feelings.
“Going to a foreign country and trying to solve the problem, it doesn’t recognize the infrastructure that is behind those problems,” she explained, “a dollar a day is not going to fix poverty because it takes more than just a dollar.”
The main point Feemster wanted the group to walk away with: “recognize that local advocacy and local change is global advocacy and global change.”
For black history month in February, Malbert says the Nanook Diversity and Action Center invites speakers to discuss a variety of issues including race, sexuality, and faith.
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