Efren Ramirez: 2012 Freedom Fellow & Growing Activist

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My name is Efren Ramirez Jr. and I grew up on the south side of Chicago and currently live in the Brighton Park neighborhood. I am a junior at Lane Tech High School by Addison and Western. During the Summer Leadership Institute, I was so excited to continue my involvement with Chicago Freedom School by applying to be a part of the Youth Leadership Board. I was interested in joining the YLB because I wanted to facilitate workshops and be on panels to share my experience on being a Freedom Fellow. I had such an awesome experience during the program that I wanted to share my experience with everyone! Plus, it would also look good on my college resume.

Since my time on being on the YLB, I have felt proud of the work I’ve done with the other YLB members. I’m surprised that I’m helping build next summer’s institute by interviewing and selecting the 2013 Freedom Fellows, as well as helping decide what workshops and sessions will take place this year.

In one way or another I have always loved social justice and am extraordinarily happy to have been given the opportunity to go to Louisville, Kentucky to participate in the Youth Rights Conference organized by the Muhammad Ali Center and the American Civil Liberties Union - Kentucky.

Members of the Youth Leadership Board were invited to facilitate an anti-oppression workshop for over 80 youth! We started prepping two weeks before going. We went over the workshop, defined terms we did not understand and prepped with our co-facilitator. We also got advice from CFS coordinators and peers on our strengths and how we could improve.

Facilitating was absolutely amazing. Yes, I was nervous at first, but it felt right-it felt natural. I want to be a music teacher when I’m older and this IS teaching. This was my first time doing a workshop and to have a lot of people tell me I did a great job was amazing! It made me feel great. I look forward to the opportunity of facilitating more workshops. I learned that I have the potential to do a lot with what I’ve learned at CFS, especially when I’m so passionate about something. I feel like I have gained confidence to stand in front of small or large groups and speak about social justice issues that need to be addressed in order for our country and world to become a better place. I have CFS to thank for; they instilled this passion of mine.

It was nice meeting youth from Kentucky and the Muhammad Ali Center Council of Students. They were all very friendly and passionate about social justice. I felt at home in their presence and thank them for their kindness and laughter. I also want to thank everyone who made our trip possible.  The passion and wonder in people’s eyes was a life changing experience that I will always remember and hold dear to my heart for future workshops and events. Thank you.

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AuthorChicago Freedom School