Senior Rosa Lozano sits upright on Jan 29 in a narrow office filled with books about the negative effects of globalization. As she places a sticker on a book order form, Lozano lists her plans for upcoming tasks: hold auditions for the Sankofa production for Black History Month, email SGR members about the Saturday-night vigil in La Mont Park for the El Salvadorian protesters and finish filing book order forms for her job at the Ecumenical Programs in Central American and the Caribbean (EPICA), an organization dedicated to fighting social injustices in Latin America and the Caribbean.
And this is only for the end of the week. Although during school Lozano blends into the diverse mass of Blair students, after school she stands out as an activist, fighting for social justice.
Taking a stand
Much of Lozano's inspiration for activism comes from her mother, Irma Umanzor, who became a nurse for the socialist guerrilla fighters during El Salvador's Civil War in the 1970s. She was forced to flee the country because neither herself nor her family was safe. "The military was looking for me, and I had to go," she says.
Lozano says that understanding her mother's sacrifices has led her to become involved in activism and not simply sit on the sidelines.
In November, Lozano went to Cuba for a week to attend a conference through her job with EPICA. There, she discussed alternatives to neoliberalism and the privatization of necessities such as health care and water.
The highlight of the trip, Lozano says, was observing the Cubans' depth of knowledge, because in Cuba higher education is free. "It's just so amazing to see the level of education of the people there," she says. "I hope that one day that people everywhere, not just in El Salvador but in the U.S. as well, would not be denied a higher level of education."
Kathy Ogle, co-coordinator and publications director for EPICA, compliments Lozano on her maturity. "She considers herself a citizen of the world," she says. "It is unique for a high-school student to be at that level of understanding of what's happening in the world."
Lozano's passion shows in her willingness to take a stand against injustices. "I have a lot of pride in taking action because it's me knowing that something is wrong but doing something about it," she says. "Anyone can talk about something, but it's those who do something about it who, in the long run, make a difference."
Protesting is not the only way Lozano takes a stand against social inequity. She also informs youth about global injustices.
On Dec 19, Lozano gave a presentation to SGR about her trip to Cuba. She remembers feeling slightly intimidated by the number of people listening to her. But her tension eased when she saw the sincere interest of her peers. "They were very open to what I was saying. They asked a lot of questions," she says.
Lozano also informs youth through her involvement in Sankofa, a club that educates students about black culture. When she joined last year, she was the only Hispanic girl there. This year, Lozano is co-president and the club boasts four other members of different races.
Whether it's planning a production for Sankofa or protesting in the streets, Lozano observes that fear is the number-one cause for people not to take action. "Fear cannot stop us from doing what is right, what is just," she says. "I don't let fear stop me."
Using herself as an example, Lozano encourages her peers to have faith that by taking action, they can accomplish anything they want. "I'd rather die tomorrow knowing that I did something than live for 100 years and know that I just stood by and did nothing," she says.
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