Posted on behalf of Bessie Rose, GOT Spring 10 Alum:
I’ve just returned from the most life changing experience I’ve had yet in my 19 years on this beautiful Earth. The experience I speak of is the Greenpeace Organizing Term. This semester, also called the GOT, provides students that have a passion for environmental activism, organizing, or are just curious about environmental issues in general an outlet to turn their concern into action.
When I signed up for the GOT, I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into. Once I had completed the interview, and then been accepted, I realized my vision – to act on something I cared deeply about – would become a reality.
The semester was filled with action (quite literally) on all ends.
Some major highlights for me were the campaign simulation, the trainings, and the expedition trip. The campaign simulation gave each student two days to prepare, plan and implement a hypothetical environmental campaign on their campus or in their community using the tools we had gained while on the GOT.
It was hard but rewarding work, and after completion of the simulation, my confidence in my ability to run an environmental campaign increased ten-fold.
Our expedition trip to Canada to bear witness to the tar sands was perhaps the most eye-opening experience for me while on the GOT. Before leaving for the trip we spent weeks studying the tar sands.
We learned just how detrimental the tar sands are both to the land which contains large amounts of Canada’s wetlands and vast amounts of biodiversity, and also for the people including indigenous populations whose rights have been endlessly violated by oil companies.
Once we got to Canada, we went on an exclusive tour through the tar sands. Along with the DC GOT class and Greenpeace Canada, we successfully planned and carried out an action in front of the BP headquarters in Calgary.
Our action coincided with BP’s annual general meeting in London and other protests going on as part of the “BP Fortnight of Shame” to re-brand BP as an environmentally destructive company and demand that they divest from tar sands development.
The Calgary BP action was tons of fun to plan and carry out, but also required lots of hard-work, organization, and focus since it was almost entirely up to the GOT to plan and organize the event. Luckily, Greenpeace Canada was kind enough to give us space and materials to work, and also helped coordinate media to arrive at the event.
It’s hard to encompass exactly what the Greenpeace Organizing Term did for me in a few paragraphs. I want to say that if you decide to join the GOT, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
The GOT has and taught me how to align my beliefs with action that matters. For me, that’s the core of hope. And that, in itself, is a marvelous victory.
-Bessie Rose, Greenpeace Organizing Term Spring 2010 Alum