Valerie Musyimi, 17, is one of my biggest fans, and in this 4-part series, I get to show her that I’m one of her biggest fans too. I met Valerie towards the end of 2015 at a church camp, but it wasn’t until 2017 that we really connected, given our shared experience of moving to the North American continent at the same time, I to the US for school, and she to Canada permanently with her family. Immediately, we just clicked and have been the best of friends since. Part of the reason why we’re such good friends is our mutual passion for social justice and human rights and our strikingly similar personalities — it’s crazy how alike our minds are; for example, multiple times I’ve watched or read something online, found it interesting, and forwarded the link to her, only to find that she had already sent me a link to the same or a slightly similar post. Crazy!
Because of our shared passion for social rights, we look forward to collaborating on amazing projects in the future, and are currently working on one together that will hopefully launch in 2020. Until then, however, in a 4-part series, I wanted to share with my readers some of her challenges with and thoughts, experiences, and advice on self-love, social rights, and her budding high fashion commercial modeling career through an interview, hopefully inspiring others in the process as much as she inspires me each day. In the first post of this 4-part series, she begins by sharing with us her passion for human rights:
You’re planning on studying social conflict and human rights in university next year, is that right?
Yes, that is correct. I plan on pursuing an Honors Bachelor of Social Sciences in Social Conflict and Human Rights COOP program at the University of Ottawa.
When would you, thus, say your passion for social rights began?
My passion for social rights began about 2 years ago when I began to gain keen interest on how politics plays a significant role in our lives, how some policies that have existed since time immemorial continue to discriminate and annihilate the rights of certain groups of people in society, how liberation movements gain momentum and create a societal or institutional shift that cements itself within a certain demographic. As I developed more interest and gained knowledge on this matter, I realized that I actively want to be part of the shift in mentality and in culture that our society needs in order to progress with long lasting peace and the realization of human rights for all regardless of ethnicity, social demographic, sexuality, religion, literacy, etc.
How have you then fostered and developed this desire and passion?
I have fortunately had the privilege of participating in a number of initiatives that coincide with my passion for the achievement of conflict resolution through human rights:
I recently had an unforgettable opportunity when I attended a United Nations training conference on Sustainable Development Millennium Goals, where I engaged with UN delegates as we discussed some goals that are of great interest to me: quality education, gender equality, racial equality, peace, justice and strong institutions. The training left me with a lot of knowledge, which I am looking forward to apply in as many opportunities as life hands me. I also obtained a certificate — I feel honored and accomplished to be a UN certified SDG advocate.
I have also developed my passion by being an active member of my school’s indigenous awareness group, which uses different interactive strategies throughout the school year to raise awareness on the discrimination and neglect of the indigenous Canadian population by the Government and other Canadians. Through this group, I have been able to interact with indigenous Canadians in their reserve communities, receive first hand knowledge about their culture and history, and get their insight on the steps that should be taken on the way towards full compensation for the indigenous communities. This group was started in our school as an active show of support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established by the government of Canada to acknowledge the injustices and harms experienced by indigenous people and the urgent need for healing.
Additionally, I develop my passion by participating in forums where discussion is directed towards important issues like social justice. I achieve this by being an active debate club member in my school where I can confidently say that I have gained a substantial amount of knowledge through hearing other people’s perspectives on different matters and getting the opportunity to firmly express my beliefs when challenged by others. I also constantly make sure to update myself on current affairs by watching the news, reading news articles, and reading content that pertains to my area of interest.
Very inspiring, right? I’m sure she’s destined to do great things for society in the future, and I just can’t wait. For more, stay tuned for part 2 on Valerie’s experience as a young model of color next Friday, August the 23rd.
– Dashushka ♥