There was a time when I felt alone.
That the opinions I had, the ways I viewed the world, and my beliefs, were strange and unfitting for reality. That the way in which I believed the world should exist and function was unrealistic and unattainable.
Until the National Student Power Convergence (NSPC).
For the first time, I met and was surrounded by hundreds of other students who proved that the desire to create a world that is just and humanizing isn’t some absurd fantasy. No, after meeting these students and organizers from across the country, I never believed such a vision was so important and could be more real.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks now, but with the recent verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, I’ve been particularly moved to get this post out there. Because, although the verdict made my heart heavy, and made me feel the inevitable feeling of hopelessness for ever reaching a just society, I was able to keep my spirits up. It was seeing the hundreds of other students I met at the NSPC sharing their thoughts, hope, and immediate readiness to organize that kept my spirits as high as they can during such a swallowing dark time.
Which is where I’ll begin on why it is imperative you attend the National Student Power Convergence in Madison, WI from Aug 1-5.
Reason #1: The People You’ll Meet and The Family You’ll Have Afterwards
I went to the convergence alone last year. The only other people that I “knew” were attending were a few wonderful people from New York Students Rising (NYSR) and Maxwell John Love. I put “knew” in quotation marks, because I only talked to them via Twitter and e-mail. So, with that being said, I was of course, just a tad bit nervous walking into a large-scale event knowing barely anyone. So what was that like?
I’ve never been surrounded by so many welcoming and open-hearted people in my life.
There are really no words to fully describe how beautiful and unique each individual I met at the convergence was. I met people who made me smile, laugh, and cry. I met people who would move me with stories such as why they are a part of and believe in the student movement. The idea that only a few people knew the importance for asking for others’ preferred gender pronoun was immediately dispelled. For the first time, I even met dozens of other people who understood why Teach for America perpetuates educational inequity. I was humbled to every possible extreme by seeing what on-the-ground, actual “activism” looked like. I was convinced I was permanently going to have the goosebumps after hearing dozens of students sharing their stories. Not only the stories of themselves, but stories of their years of community organizing and demonstrations they’ve taken part in.
The people at the convergence taught me about a world I didn’t even know existed.
What I found different from this event in comparison to other student “conferences” I attended was the fact we all kept in touch afterwards. My news-feed on Facebook became increasingly filled with things that actually stimulated my mind intellectually, and moved my heart emotionally. When Students United for Public Education (SUPE) was preparing to be launched, I was able to easily get in touch with my friends from the convergence to get their advice. And of course, they help spread the word to other organizers they knew (and one person I met from the convergence is actually a chapter leader for SUPE!).
Also, I’ve got to say, it’s pretty awesome running into people you met at the convergence at other actions\events such as LegCon, Get Out The Vote, Occupy the Department of Education, the mass demonstration in NYC this past Sunday, and even my school board election!
GAH, I JUST LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH.
Even further, many of them have helped me continuously grow as a person and an activist, probably more than they will ever know. You don’t only gain friends and allies from the convergence, but you gain a sense of self. You gain courage. You gain support. You gain a family who inspires you every single day without them even knowing it. They are a family who not only inspires you to take action against injustices you personally come across in your daily life, but a family who inspires you to continuously become a stronger and better person.
To me, they–the students you meet at the convergence–make the convergence as powerful as it is.
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Reason #2: The Entire Convergence Itself
I could go on forever on this point, but I’ll try and keep it short. Basically what makes this convergence unique from other “youth focused” conferences is that the entire event is organized for and by students. That means the programs and workshops that are offered at the convergence are on issues we as a student movement care about. If you’re interested in learning more of the specifics of some of the programs from last year, please visit my post where I documented my experience here: My Experience at the National Student Power Convergence.
To give you a little idea of what took place at NSPC last year, here’s some pictures!
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Reason #3: The Person You Are Afterwards
“As the convergence moved on, I called one of my best friends from home saying, “I feel like I’m turning more radical as each day goes by, after each person I talk to, after each personal story I hear, and…I don’t know what to do! I’m scared!”
It’s so funny to think how I perceived the word “radical” about a year ago.
I had no idea what to expect going into NSPC. It was the first year it was happening, and like I said, I barely knew anything about any of the other students going into it.
NSPC will push you out of your comfort zone. And, I don’t know much about Neale Walsch, but he said something pretty wise: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
The entire event, the workshops, and of course, the people, all presented opportunities that forced me to challenge the way I thought. There was no forcing opinions on anyone, and I think that’s something else I loved about NSPC. Sure, maybe we didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything, but that didn’t cause them to respond with: WELP, SORRY YOU CAN’T BE A PART OF STUDENT MOVEMENT, BYE.
Haha, no, they had open minds as well as open hearts, and made their best efforts to meet people where they were at. I told a lot of them that I wasn’t an organizer, and after meeting all of them that I would barely even identify myself as an “activist.” It was hard to swallow at first because prior to NSPC I thought I already was an activist (of course, I still believe blogging on critical issues is some sort of activism and super important, but they pushed me to take it further–which I did). Yet, it was that constant challenging of not only how I thought of society and its current structure, but how I thought of myself was what made NSPC as powerful as it was for me.
When you become radicalized, you never forget when or where it was, and who you were with.
I consider myself lucky to say that all of that started at the National Student Power Convergence.
Well, those are my top reasons I believe every student who believes in fighting for a better world should be rushing to register for NSPC right now. I know this blog post doesn’t even come close to conveying what NSPC has to offer. Nothing can replace actually being there. So, again, I can’t emphasize enough how much I hope any student reading this considers registering (especially since housing, food, and registration is all FREE).
Let’s converge our struggles together and collectively create a stronger student movement.
Here. Us. Now.
Also, I strongly encourage you all to check out some of the powerful work and organizations students and organizers who attended NSPC last year are currently working on\with
And I just want to send extra love to the incredible student organizers for all their hard work making sure NSPC is happening again.
Please check out and read about the students who are making this all happen.