The Revolution Begins at Home: Lessons from South Africa

This is a program that runs annually. This year's theme strives to explore transformative change and justice, through a virtual platform. Rooting the conversation in South Africa, a popular case for understanding social movements, participants will consider how the personal is political. Participants will meet with international and domestic activists from all over the world over zoom to understand their methodology and movements. Part of this global program is to consider the transnational connections and movements between South Africa and places such as Palestine, the US, etc. We will consider how change begins with the self, thinking about how we embody justice in our own lives. As we embark on this program from start to finish, our driving question will be, “how do I live liberation?” We will work to understand and apply concepts such as the construction of race, restorative justice, and self-care as a political practice to ourselves and our society. The purpose of this AltBreak program is to learn from South African leaders to apply these lessons in our own lives and at American University.

Dates of Engagement: May 17 - 21, 2021

Aqsa Rashid is a junior studying Transcultural Studies with minors in International Relations and Sociology. Aqsa is interested in women’s issues, gender-based violence, transnational politics, and journalism. She cares deeply about the power of storytelling, and the way that people use words as a tool of resistance in both personal and political realms. Aqsa writes for the Blackprint Magazine at AU, and is involved in the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine on campus. After participating in the 2019 South Africa Alternative Break, Aqsa grew more interested in ideas related to decolonizing the academy and education. She has served as an intern at the Institute for Educational Leadership, and as a youth organizer at the Next Generation Coalition. Both roles allowed her to understand the power of community building initiatives in bridging systemic inequities. She is eager to deepen her understanding of these issues through the South African context.

Aqsa Rashid alt-break leader

Kiran Waqar is a junior studying Sociology with minors in Arabic, Transcultural Studies, and American Studies. Kiran has interests in studying social movements, especially in the ways praxis and faith intersect. She also has a passion for literature and the ways language has been used both to oppress and liberate. On-campus, Kiran is involved with Muslim Students Association, Asian American Student Association Advocacy Committee, Students for Justice in Palestine, and Intergroup Dialogue. Off-campus, she has served in several roles including as a youth poetry educator, an organizing fellow, and as an intern for organizations such as HEART Women and Girls and the Vermont Attorney General’s Civil Rights Unit. As a previous participant of the South Africa AltBreak program, Kiran is excited to dive deeper into these conversations.

Kiran Waqar alt-break leader

Day One (Monday): Begin by clarifying our intentions and goals for our program. Give an overview of how we will integrate self-care into our activities, and thinking about our social locations.

Day two (Tuesday): Discuss transnational social movements. Participants will learn from transnational activists, consider how oppressions & liberations are interlinked, and what that means for AU students. Students will do power mapping and issue mapping activities.

Day Three (Wednesday): Participants will learn from South African activists. Through interactive programming, we will consider different forms of resistance, how resistance changes, and what contemporary resistance looks like.

Day Four (Thursday): As we reach the end of the program, we will collectively ask: what is the world we want to live in? What is the world we could all thrive in? What do we need to get there? What is transformative justice & what does it look like?

Day Five (Friday): End our program with reflecting on how we will bring this knowledge home. Celebrate by breaking bread with our new community, watch an artist perform, and collect our stories of resistance in an archive to keep for the future.