Since joining Amnesty International USA in January of this year I have witnessed the incredible power of grassroots activism. I am moved by the great compassion of Amnesty supporters. From students to adults who have been activists for many decades, our members are the strength of our movement. In the past six months I have met with many of these members, and have witnessed their enthusiasm and energy effect great change in the struggle to improve and protect human rights around the world.
I want to highlight and applaud the work of one of our Student Activist Coordinators, Alanna Offield, a young woman whose accomplishments and energy for human rights have been an inspiration to me and to many of her peers.
Alanna's goal is to bring about change. Alanna recalled watching Aung San Suu Kyi receive Amnesty's Ambassador of Conscience award: "Watching Amnesty give her that award put it into perspective that what you're doing really makes a difference."
Alanna is intent on making a difference herself. As a self-described "action person," she always has an eye on results. She has taken great initiative to expand Amnesty's presence at her college, the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, by helping to organize large and innovative events. Once, her Amnesty group strung lines across the cafeteria and hung small pieces of fabric painted with images of what peace meant to students. The scene was a beautiful and highly visible show of support for human rights on her campus. This kind of creativity, audacity and enterprise is the reason our movement thrives.
In high school, Alanna knew she was interested in social justice, but she didn't know how to talk about it. Attending AIUSA's activist workshops gave her the confidence and skills to articulate a position on pressing human rights issues, and to lead others in this conversation. She recently organized and led training for other activists on how to lobby for the DREAM act.
Whether she is working on an at-risk youth program as a part of the Northern New Mexico Project for Youth (a nonprofit which she founded herself), encouraging undocumented students to seek higher education, or providing resources and guidance for Amnesty college and high school groups, Alanna's work is guided by a passion for youth. Her dedication to her work with Amnesty's youth groups is especially poignant – she meets with all of the groups she is responsible for in the southwest regularly, and when she can't travel the distance in person, she arranges for the group to meet by Skype. Alanna has grown tremendously as a human rights activist since becoming involved with Amnesty in high school. Now, she offers her knowledge and experiences to other young people – she is working to ensure the creation of a new generation of strong and informed activists.
I am amazed by Alanna's level of commitment to Amnesty and to the cause of immigrants' rights. I hope that her activism inspires and energizes many of us to take bold and creative action for a good cause.
--Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, 9/17/2012