Write to Change the World: Chicago February 22, 2015

FullSizeRender (4) A range of experts gathered in Chicago last week for the Write to Change the World seminar. The program took place at the Illinois Humanities Council, an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities.

The program was inspiring and thought-provoking. The experts in the room ranged from an award-winning human rights journalist, to the founder of an organization that aims to transform the educational experience of students in El Salvador, to professors, research associates and graduates of Northwestern University.

There is a special back-to-back intensive Write to Change the World core program in Chicago coming up on the weekend of April 11 & 12. Registration details can be found here.

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So What’s it like to be a Public Voices Fellow, Lynn?

Lynn 2I have to say, this experience has far exceeded my expectations in a number of different ways.

First, it has provided me with some general “life skills” that I was not expecting. Skills around how to present myself publicly, how to wear my credentials and my expertise proudly, and skills around thinking about the bigger message and what is important to get out there. Second, these meetings have truly been convenings. Webster’s dictionary defines ‘convene’ (and this was always my favorite way to start my college application essays!) as ‘to come together in a body’ and that is truly what these meetings have felt like. They feel like they have brought together an extraordinarily talented diverse group of women as a single cohesive body. And I honestly am not sure we would have met had it not been for this program. That is sad to say given that we all likely work within a one mile radius of each other (except for Diana but what a wonderful excuse to be able to see her lovely face every few months!).

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This has been such an added benefit of this experience. I have had the opportunity to meet women who work in the Departments of Linguistics and Pathology, from the Law School and Academic Affairs. I have re-connected with friends and colleagues from the Med School that I don’t see often enough and I have (re-) connected with someone who I actually graduated with from high school in Los Angeles (unbeknownst to us–we figured this out at our last convening as we sat next to each other chatting!).

I have had the pleasure to learn from all of you—from sitting in these meetings with you and from reading your words and “hearing” your voices. The leadership from our conveners has been amazing—inspiring, driving, but with humor and kindness. Both the “fellowship” and the learning have been wonderful.

Lynn Fiellin is Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and a practicing HIV physician and Addiction Medicine Provider. Lynn is pictured above. 

Write To Change The World, NYC February 7, 2015

Katy Rubin was one of the experts who joined us last week at the ‘Write to Change the World’ seminar in New York City. Here are her thoughts on the day:

Katy Rubin

Katy Rubin

“Hello, my name is Katy Rubin, and I’m an expert in fear. Wait, no, that’s not right – I’m actually an expert in engaging radically diverse communities in concrete social action through theatre. And I have a lot to say about how the innovative “Legislative Theatre” process can generate creative policy change around homelessness and the criminal justice system, and truly democratize the democratic process. If you catch up with me after a performance by Theatre of the Oppressed NYC, the organization I founded in 2011, I will be happy to tell you all about it.

But I’ve been mostly afraid to write about it – intimidated by the permanence of putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and unsure that my ideas are worthy enough to share so publicly.

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This past Saturday I participated in The Op-Ed Project’s Write to Change the World Seminar, and I learned a few things. One: I have a responsibility to share my ideas, both as an engaged citizen working for social change and as a woman, whose perspective is underrepresented in the “world’s conversation.” Two: I am already an expert in something, and I better not wait to write until I’m 100% certain, because that day will never come. I knew already that there are many brilliant thinkers whose voices are underrepresented in media, and on Saturday I met 15 of them. Therefore, Three: I want to read the op-ed of every participant in the workshop, from school principals to Quaker environmental activists, and maybe they want to read mine too.

I also took home a notebook full of practical tools for constructing an argument and communicating effectively with an audience of both supporters and skeptics. The Op-Ed Project pushed us out the door with a gentle threat: they’ll support our writing with a mentor-editor within the next three months, but if we don’t write our first op-ed by then, we lose the opportunity. They know how to confront my fear head-on, and I intend to meet the challenge: to fulfill my responsibility to join the conversation.”

The OpEd Project will be back in NYC on March 7. Registration information for Write to Change the World can be found here.

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Write to Change the World, San Francisco – February 7, 2015

FullSizeRender-2Experts in a range of fields convened at the ACLU of Northern California on Saturday for our first Bay Area seminar of the new year. The program brought together a civil rights lawyer, a critical care physician, a best-selling author, a political cartoonist, and others for a fun and highly productive day around expertise, credibility, and how to use your knowledge for maximum impact.
Participants are working to change the conversation around the need for universal preschool, gender equity in sports, economic empowerment, and racial equity in higher education. We can’t wait to see their voices influencing the public debate this year.
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Write to Change the World, DC – January 31, 2015

Chloe and Fouzia DC 1.31.15 (1)Recently we convened an exciting group of thought leaders in Washington, DC. The seminar was hosted by International Labor Rights Forum, a human rights organization that is dedicated to achieving dignity and justice for workers worldwide.

Participants came from a diverse range of institutions, including Islamic Relief USA, Brown University, Aspen Institute and National Coalition of Girls’ Schools and varied from journalists to attorneys to a rehabilitation neuroscientist to a brand ambassador. They discussed how to cultivate and own one’s expertise, and worked together to see how to find a voice and make an impact.

The OpEd Project will be back in Washington, DC on April 11. Registration information for Write to Change the World can be found here.

YNOW’s Amber Fang on opportunities for international students

At our second Youth Narrating Our World (YNOW) convening, emerging thought leader and Marie Curie Metro High School student Amber Fang shared her thoughts on culture, opportunity, and how open-mindedness influences learning.

Amber recently appeared in Teen Voices at Womens eNews, with a powerful piece about her experience with childhood trauma. Amber said:


Kids and parents, too, can be taught to recognize trauma and stress so they can learn how to develop hopefulness, according to researchers. One technique is learning how to breathe deeply to process stress. Other one is to teach caregivers, such as parents, doctors and teachers, how to react to kids who have suffered trauma.

Read the full op-ed here.

YNOW’s Tariq Portis on advancing his ideas

At our second Youth Narrating Our World (YNOW) convening, 14-year-old Tariq Portis spoke with his mentor about negative (mis)perceptions, and why they are the driving force behind his ideas.

Tariq recently appeared in The Chicago Bureau’s Student Voices, with a piece on racial profiling. According to Tariq:


A new analysis out recently by the ACLU shows that African Americans and Latino drivers were more than four times as likely to be stopped by Chicago police for traffic stops than white drivers. Seen as classic racial profiling, the analysis shows that for 100,000 traffic stops, more than half were to black drivers.

Stay tuned for more from Tariq and his YNOW peers.