By Alexandra Puffer
The Social Justice League at Bridgewater State University is a club described as “dedicated to educating and promoting social justice on local, national, and international levels.”
Last week the group held a panel in the Moakley Auditorium titled SED Talks, modeled after the popular Ted Talks, a set of not for profit conferences dedicated to spreading ideas worth sharing.
SED Talks had student speakers who have been in foreign and specialty classrooms in the United States discuss their experiences creating a portrait of the global classroom.The SED Talks panel hosted speakers from Ghana, Haiti, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Free the Children.
Marion King, a member of the class of 2015 majoring in Sociology with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, also presented at the SED Talks. She raises two children and is on the board of directors of SPEDwatch, a nonprofit organization fighting to secure the educational rights of all Massachusetts students with disabilities, ages three to 21.
For King, one of the most gratifying experiences in being involved in SPEDwatch is spreading awareness of the needs of so many Massachusetts families, including her own, have when working with a child who is on the autistic spectrum in public education.
“When I knew that I had shown a perfect stranger the realities with which so many families live, it was a very special feeling,” King said. “I believe that we change the world one person at a time.”
King also enjoyed learning about different education experiences from other panelists at the SED Talks.
“I learned how similar the Saudi Arabian system is to the American system, and how different things are in Haiti and Turkey,” King said. “It was saddening to hear about fears of violence and actual incidents of violence disrupting what we so take for granted here.”
Jocie Coombs, a member of the class of 2014 and an art and sociology major, is the President of BSU’s Free the Children Chapter. Free the Children is an international nonprofit organization that works to build schools and advocate for children’s rights in poor nations.
Coombs spoke at SED Talks on the injustices children experience globally when it comes to the scarcity of adequate education and the long-term impact education has on individual lives and global communities.
Coombs became involved with Free the Children two years ago after taking a course on global social problems. She loves Free the Children’s message that anyone can make a positive impact on these issues.
“The best part is holding events that really move people and cause that little spark to ignite inside of them,” Coombs said. “To see the moments of realization and students eager to ask more questions and ask how they can get involved is so inspiring because you never know where a person will go with that newfound knowledge and curiosity.”
Both SPEDwatch and Free the Children are determined to change the way education is approached in communities locally and globally. There are many opportunities to volunteer and get involved in their fight for social justice within education.
Alexandra Puffer is The Comment’s Digital Editor. Follow her on Twitter at @AlexandraPuffer or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.