Lights, Camera, Action Corps!
For those of you who have been following the blog you will know that in London I met Oxfam GB volunteers who worked in several different parts of the organisations. On visiting Philadelphia I had a very similar experience, but this time with Oxfam America volunteers. I found out what Oxfam activists were doing in the USA. Here Cheryl tells us more about it:
Oxfam has been a huge part of my life since 2006 when I heard Chris Martin say for the 100th time “Please look at Make Trade Fair dot com, and please more chocolate, and please listen to more Coldplay” in the beginning of “Amsterdam” from their live album. So I went to MakeTradeFair.com and I got lost in all the information Oxfam had about Fair Trade vs. Free Trade.
On Oxfam’s website I saw the opportunity to volunteer at a Coldplay show, so I signed up for the North Jersey show. After writing a long speech about how much I love Coldplay, Oxfam, and how passionate I was about the campaign in my application, I found out I was chosen to volunteer at the show. Working that first Coldplay show and talking to people about Oxfam was incredible. I couldn’t believe I could help one of my favourite bands make such a huge difference in the world, and get to talk to so many other awesome fans and get them passionate about it too.
There I met a member of the Oxfam America team who contacted me about volunteering at the Warped Tour in NJ. I jumped at the opportunity. That day we were collecting petition signatures asking the government to change how the Farm Bill was written to help small farmers have an opportunity to compete. Around that time I was feeling a little overwhelmed with global problems, I was feeling really small and started doubting whether I, as one person, could really help. That day, not only did we get over 100 petition signatures from music fans, I had two girls come up to me and thank me for what I was doing. They lived on a small farm and said that if the bill passed as it was currently written, they would lose their farm. That moment moved me. I realize that I could really help change the world as one person, because as one person I can collect over 100 other voices, and those voices can tell other people, who can tell more. We need more people to make these voices heard and show our leaders that we are paying attention and we do care.
Two summers later I applied and got accepted to be one of 50 university students around the US to go to Boston for Oxfam America’s CHANGE program. For a week we went through training on campaigning, advocacy, and lobbying as well as Oxfam’s work and how we can help. We learned the tools we needed to go back to our campuses and run a group focused on social justice. I started “Students for Social Justice” at Philadelphia University. During the training I met people from all over who are so different but completely connected on one thing, the want to change the world for the better. I highly recommend it for all Freshman and Sophomores in university!
Oxfam America also have the Action Corps programme, these are groups of volunteers who represent Oxfam in their local areas.I joined the Philadelphia Action Corps. and since have volunteered at countless concerts, local events and marathons, and met incredible people. We meet at different members houses or local universities and watch short films on global issues and have letter-writing parties to our local representatives. After five years of being in the Philadelphia Action Corps. I am a co-leader with my friend Lindsy for the next year.
Lindsy and I volunteered at the Philly Coldplay shows and had the opportunity once again to talk to their awesome fans about the GROW campaign. Seeing Coldplay live again just made me so grateful that they were the ones who introduced me to Oxfam and all the great work they do. Seeing their thousands of fans in that arena watching Chris jumping and dancing around the stage with the Oxfam logo on his tee shirt made me so proud that one of my favorite bands are still using their voices to raise awareness about important issues, encourage their fans to do something about it. So please go to OxfamAmerica.org, please eat more chocolate, and please listen to more Coldplay..s.it may change your life, and the world, for the better! Thanks, Cheryl