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A Deep Dive into Advocacy Week



Raghav Bhatnagar

February 7, 2024


From January 22nd to 25th, HKIS high school students experienced their first-ever advocacy week. Throughout the week, students showcased different social justice initiatives and organizations within our school community. It was spearheaded by the school senators for student life and citizenship, Issy Souleyman and Katelyn Horng, and the school's two main citizenship groups, the Sustainability Board (SUSBO) and the Diversity, Equality, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Council. JUNTO interviewed leaders of the DEIJ council and SUSBO to gain a behind-the-scenes look into the planning and reflection on Advocacy Week. 


Advocacy Week emphasized the importance of global issues and social justice at our school, including advocacy for members of the international community and the environment. This was done through several different initiatives. For instance, the sustainability board ran a clothing drive to donate essentials to the Salvation Army’s recycling program, and the library presented a collection of books on social and environmental justice. Additionally, various social justice clubs hosted booths on the Island during lunchtime on Wednesday. The week ended with a blast on Citizenship Day, the DEIJ council’s revamp of last year’s International Day, wherein students wore clothing they believed were meaningful and representative of their cultural identities. 


The event expanded to highlight various forms of diversity, including racial and ethnic diversity, neurodiversity, and more. The DEIJ invited the school community and guests to host interactive and informative Dragon Day sessions. These events included henna decorating and learning about hip-hop music with the Africa Center. Citizenship Day also included a community gathering, where Shloka Vishweshwar, leader of the DEIJ council, delivered a moving speech about the impact of advocacy on her life and the importance of making sure each member of the student body feels comfortable in their own skin. To top it all off, the island and rock were decorated with a kaleidoscope of bold color and energy, a celebration of the emotional highs and lively feeling of the week.


Although Advocacy Week itself went by quickly, the event took months of planning. To gain an insight into the effort it took to plan such an event, I interviewed the leaders of SUSBO and DEIJ. In these interviews, the leaders explained that the purposes of DEIJ and SUSBO are fundamental to advocacy at HKIS. The DEIJ council promotes a school environment where everyone feels safe to express themselves; SUSBO works to advance environmental impact across the high school by raising awareness on sustainability-related issues and pushing policy change throughout the school. Both councils hosted events throughout Advocacy Week, with the Sustainability Board leading the clothing drive. The board also had a climate simulation planned for Tuesday that was, unfortunately, canceled. However, SUSBO leaders Jane Poon and Jack Tanas believe that students at HKIS can look forward to experiencing the Climate simulation sometime in the future, hopefully very soon. 


The DEIJ council extensively planned Citizenship Day, including the International Food Fair at lunchtime. Both the SUSBO and DEIJ leaders agreed that the Food Fair was one of the best ways to engage the student body to celebrate diversity, with DEIJ council leader Montse Sambalido stating that “the food fair was a massive hit amongst High School students…everyone at HKIS loves snacks from different cultures.” She enjoyed taking charge of food fair planning, creating posters and advertisements for the big event, and meeting with Sodexo to plan the cafeteria MENU for Citizenship Day. 


When asked what event the leaders would add to advocacy week if they had the chance, the leaders of SUSBO stated that they would love to make the climate quest simulation part of advocacy week again next year. At the same time, the DEIJ council wanted to add fishbowl discussions as Dragon Day sessions to engage with the school community further throughout Citizenship Day. 


Overall, Advocacy Week was a fun and informative event for the HKIS community, and according to leaders of DEIJ and SUSBO, it was just as fun to plan. The week not only presented a significant opportunity for students to learn about inclusivity and environmental issues but also taught us the importance of school-wide events in bringing the community together. Overall, it was a highly successful event that members of the high school can look forward to again in the future.

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