In March 2022, Jill Kawakami was selected to be one of 10 students to represent Sonoma State University at the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights’ workshop in Healdsburg, California. The Oxford University-based consortium conducts workshops for students and faculty in collaboration with the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict. These workshops focus on different areas of human rights. The four-day workshop in Healdsburg (March 31 – April 3) focused on Human Rights, Activism, and Community Action.
My Experience at the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights' Workshop
by Jill Kawakami
As a Sonoma State University student who has never set foot on campus due to the pandemic, I was unsure that I was an appropriate choice to represent the criminology and criminal justice studies (CCJS) program at such an important opportunity as the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights’ workshop. During the two-and-a-half hour drive up from my home in San José, I had plenty of time to let the nerves and apprehension sink in: Do I belong here amongst my peers who have participated in human rights activism? Should my opinions, thoughts, and contributions over the workshop be considered valid?
The first evening was light -- meet-and-greet with my peers from Sonoma State University, University of Oregon, Fresno State University, Saint Mary’s College, Northwestern Connecticut, as well as the hosts from Corazón Healdsburg and Oxford University, with a screening of a documentary made about a young Watsonville agricultural worker and her journey of balancing work, family, immigration, and graduating high school.
The next 4 days were jam-packed with hands-on activities, lectures, and seminars. We had presentations on the development of human rights (by Dr. Ryan and Dr. Gadkar-Wilcox) and the international human rights and the United Nations (by Dr. Slim). We interacted with a panel of community activists who became elected officials in Sonoma County. We also had opportunities to utilize the knowledge we gained from the workshop and the community action organizing tools taught to us by applying them to real-life issues that plague our communities, culminating in inter-college group presentations.
During the workshop, I found my nerves, anxiety, and feelings of being an impostor shed away like a snake shedding its skin. I feel humbled in understanding the privilege I have (and the privilege I was given in being chosen to represent CCJS), empowered by the energy and activism of my peers, and inspired to participate in my community and local activism, as well as dive full-force into SSU’s community activism when I will be able to be on campus full time next semester. I cannot begin to express how grateful and appreciative I am for this opportunity and I implore Sonoma State University to continue collaborating with Oxford Consortium for Human Rights to give other students the tools, knowledge, and opportunity to contribute towards the advancement of human rights.