Adrienne Lee | Week 1 – Finding Solutions to the Problems That We Face

I learned, a long time ago, when the naivety of my childhood began to fade, that there were several problems on this Earth – slavery, inequality, environmental degradation, oppression, war, genocide, disease…  I found these issues weighing me down; where do we begin to deal with such injustices?  A good friend of mine once told me that, “to realize there is a problem is to also realize that there is a solution.”  It is my continued belief that in order for us to be part of a solution, we have to collectively work together and find innovative answers to the problems that we face.

I have recently graduated from my Master’s program in Environmental Applied Science and Management in Toronto, Canada.  Over the next six months I will be taking part in a 6-month non-academic based fellowship in Half Moon Bay, California.  The Not for Sale Campaign is a global organization, which works towards developing innovative solutions to re-abolish slavery locally and abroad, by equipping smart activists around the world to utilize their own skill set to be part of this movement.  The concept of unity, collectiveness and one’s own agency is what drew me to this organization, as no matter what your background, everyone has a role to play in being part of an answer towards solving modern-day slavery.

I am a firm believer that you learn from experience.  When these injustices started to break me, I searched for an answer.  I found it in working with student groups, becoming informed, getting involved, and volunteering my time while always listening to others.  For me the answers were in the journey I had set out for myself, and the people that I would meet along the way would be my roadmap.  The same friend that had told me to search for a solution was also the compass to my path for social justice.  Together, with a group of friends, we started a student club.  What we all thought would just be a student club developed into a Canadian registered NGO that sends over 200 students a year to school and university in vulnerable communities in Africa.  This taught me that no matter how small your initiative; it can develop into measurable change, and to never diminish your efforts with the word “just.”

This same friend also recommended the book Not for Sale to me.  After reading the book, I affirmed that this is where my passion belonged.  The Not for Sale Campaign has given me great confidence, that I could see one of the many problems that weigh down our society, solved within this lifetime.  To idealize that my children, or my children’s children, may grow up in a society that has one less problem to face, only reemphasizes how important it is for us to work together to address this cause.

I am very excited for the next six months.  I am taking part in a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to work with a group of dedicated, likeminded individuals that are all working towards the same movement.  I am very excited to collaborate, discuss, debate, and learn from the NFS staff and the other fellows as we each bring our own unique backgrounds to the table and find our path to the solution that is out there.

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