Leaving on a jet plane for a life-changing experience

by Carson Chavana

September 26, 2012

When I got on the plane to DC to start my Greenpeace Semester adventure, I remember how excited I was about the idea of living in a big city for a while and maybe expanding my grasp on what the environmental movement was all about; I really had no idea how much the Greenpeace Semester (called the Greenpeace Organizing Term back in my day) would change my life.

I know it may sound cliche but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that doing the Greenpeace Semester was the single most important thing I’ve ever done. Learning to climb, traveling across and/or out of the country, and meeting Greenpeace campaigners (people whose names I’d become so familiar with from the inundation of emails about signing this petition or what have you) were the superficial highlights I had been anticipating before actually starting the Semester. But what I gained from it was so much more substantial; learning how to run a real effective meeting on my campus, feeling confident being interviewed by a local news station, gaining skills to efficiently build a group or organization, knowing when and how to use non-violent direct action, drafting campaign plans, powermapping, learning what powermapping even was, and recognizing that I, that we, have the power to take on corporate injustices and truly create a safer, cleaner, greener world.

On my campus, the University of Texas at Austin, I was involved in many groups, many that weren’t creating any real change. When I went back to school after the Semester, I joined the Greenpeace Student Network as a Campus Coordinator and worked on the Unfriend Coal campaign. Months after students participated in actions across the country to convince Facebook to switch to 100 percent renewable energy, the company announced its plans to do so. After working on several other campaigns as a student, organizing effectively, and then winning campaigns, I feel empowered and inspired to know that I, that we, can create such change.

Recently (as in really recently, as in several days ago), I became the Greenpeace Semester Recruitment Coordinator. (THAT’S how much I believe in this program!) Joining the Semester made me recognize the obligation we have to the earth and protecting it. I feel confident the youth participating in the Greenpeace Semester are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

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