By Jacob Newman, Pacific Northwest II 2016 Participant
Last week, I had the privilege of leading two activities during our time at the IRC’s summer camp, one for my fellow Mitzvah Corps Pacific Northwest participants and one for the entire camp. The first activity that I lead was what is known as a privilege walk, an activity from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance. During a privilege walk, participants are asked to all start on a line and either step forwards or backwards depending on whether they benefit from or are hurt by a privilege that the statement details. At the end of the activity, the participants are asked to look around and observe where they stand compared to others. Although the group that we are a part of might be considered a collection of people with a lot of privilege, after completing the activity, there were stark spaces among the individuals in the group. This goes to show that especially as we work with children who have faced tragedy and struggle, we must always be aware of the amount of privilege we have, as well as how fortunate we are to live our lives the way that we do.
I also got to lead a large game of Red Light, Green Light. As silly as the game itself might be, I felt fortunate that I was given this opportunity. These games serve as unifiers for a group of kids from around the country and world. As I watched the campers themselves lead individual games, I got to see them empowered to take ownership. Seeing them lead a group of their peers was something that I cannot put into words. Not only do these refugee children deserve more of these opportunities, but children at an economic disadvantage living in all of our cities across this nation do as well. When I return home from this experience, I am hoping that I will be able to channel this realization into action in my own community.