The Derechos Humanos Endeavor

The climax of my DukeEngage placement this summer is tomorrow.  I have been working with the nonprofit organization, la Coalición de Derechos Humanos, or the Human Rights Coalition, to plan a community forum about the housing rights of tenants in apartments, mobile homes, and rental homes.  Each of the four Duke students placed at Derechos Humanos, Camille, Ji, Michelle, and I, have worked on creating a booklet detailing tenants’ rights under state and federal law.  However, I quickly realized that I was largely responsible for the logistics of the event, which will summarize the booklet and include panelists from community agencies and organizations.  As a result, each day on the job for the past month, I addressed a few of the small tasks necessary to prepare for the forum.  While the delayed gratification of waiting until June 30 might not be worth it for some people, the dual task of planning and publicizing events is one of my greatest thrills.  June 30 is the day of the big game, the day of the show.  

Since I have yet to mention anything about Derechos Humanos in my blog posts, here’s a list of most of my tasks to prepare for the forum, “¡Conozca sus Derechos Sobre la Vivienda!,” or “Know Your Housing Rights!”:

  • Make a flyer for the forum, to be held at Armory Park Community Center in Tucson, AZ.
  • Help the other Duke students research housing laws to locate the most relevant provisions to include in the new booklet.
  • Research several public and private resources in the community to which tenants can turn when their rights have been broached.  Camille added information about these resources to the developing booklet.
  • Contact these community resources to arrange speakers for our forum.
  • Identify public libraries, a social services center, a soup kitchen, a medical clinic, a day labor camp, and the Tucson branch of the Mexican Consulate as places where people who could benefit from the forum might congregate.
  • Deliver flyers to these locations or coordinate distribution by other interns.  The press attaché at the Consulate even spoke about the event on the radio.
  •  Write a press release in Spanish to send to local Spanish tabloid, La Estrella de Tucson.  Rejoice when our announcement comes out in print.
  • Join experienced Spanish speakers on local Spanish radio station, La Raza, to promote the event.  Nervously deliver a sentence or two on my own.
  • Create a script for the forum, sharing the master of ceremonies role among the four students.
  • Create a PowerPoint presentation for the forum.
  • Touch base with forum speakers several more times to make sure all are on the same page.

I’m proud of completing these bullet points, to be sure, but certainly the most important part of my work at Derechos Humanos has been my interactions with people: the Duke students with whom I’ve prepared for the event, the other staff in the office, and the speakers whom I’ve contacted have all made incredible impacts on me.  Hopefully, I have enriched their work and their experience too.  The best compliment I’ve received yet was when one of the speakers thanked me for my “warm courtesy” and “patience” in our communications.  Wow, I was touched.  I pray that the audience tomorrow will likewise benefit from the prolonged efforts and teamwork underlying this forum.


~ by Jonathan Amgott on June 29, 2009.

One Response to “The Derechos Humanos Endeavor”

  1. sounds like a great resume builder.. .hope to hear more about how your work effects those you are supporting in the next post


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