Hello world, Goodbye Amnesty? - no way!
Amy Chen is a recent graduate of University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where she was active in her Amnesty International student group for three years. AIUSA caught up with Amy to learn what she's been up to and share her advice to other recent grads on staying involved with Amnesty after graduation.
Works at: Association for Psychological Science
Interests: Education & Women's Rights
University of California, Los Angeles - Class of 2012
One of the biggest challenges AIUSA faces is keeping activists after they graduate college, how did you stay involved after graduation?
It can feel really overwhelming after graduation; you are not sure what lies ahead. There are so many different paths to working in the human rights field. Taking a job with the Association for Psychological Science, allows me to tap into so many resources and still volunteer with Amnesty. I am able to balance my work life and take on Amnesty projects as a volunteer, like helping with Regional Conferences, local actions and so much more.
You are currently getting the Young Professionals Amnesty International (YPAI) up and running in DC, how is this different from your experience as a Student Group Coordinator for UCLA?
I was nervous about taking this on because the stakes are higher. I'm not just marketing to a school community but to a city. I used every tool I learned as a student activist when organizing the YPAI-DC, including structuring meetings, having goals, and motivating people. It has also been incredibly valuable working with Julie Southwell, (my Field Organizer) and other Amnesty local group activists, who have really been there every step of the way. DC is a really active city that loves to network, and I'm looking forward to connecting young people and young professionals involved in Amnesty. Every city is different so you will want to explore what works, what brings people together and how best you can build your group to contribute to human rights.
What advice would you give to amnesty activists about to graduate?
First I would want every grad to remember that they are still part of the Amnesty Family (aka fAmnesty) even after they graduate. You have Amnesty organizing skills, networks and an understanding of human rights that is very valuable to the organization and your community.
Stay connected to your Field Organizer - Every city has a designated Field Organizer so make sure to reach out to your FO or the Amnesty office to get in touch and learn how you can stay involved even if you move to a different city or state.
If you do decide to start a YPAI in your area, it's important to have a realistic first event, know your budget, and have a goal to build your network. Think about having your event at a local bar and ask if you can have a signature Amnesty drink (and split the proceeds).
Starting a YPAI may not be for everyone so it is important to stay on Amnesty's mailing lists to find out other opportunities to get involved or at least to lend your name to our life saving work to end human rights violations. Before jumping into YPAI, I volunteered to help organize the offsite action this past Mid-Atlantic regional conference. Next year, I plan on phone banking for abolition in Maryland, and attend Get on the Bus and local group planning meetings. I still follow the Amnesty group at UCLA and support them as needed.
Learn more about the Young Professionals Amnesty International networks.