What's it like to go to school and worry about being deported? An Ivy Leaguer explains.

"Administration! Come out!" chanted Camila, her voice echoing across the quad outside Brown's University Hall.

Camila was just one of hundreds in a fervent chorus of students, staff, and faculty who walked out of class at Brown University on Nov. 16, 2016, joining a nationwide protest.

Camila, a junior political science major, carried a makeshift sign on a piece of brown cardboard that read, "Yo grito lo que mi familia calla," or "I shout out what my family keeps silent." Together with the gathered crowd, she marched through the crisp autumn air to deliver a list of demands to the university administration.


What did Camila, and the other students around her, want? Among other demands, they wanted a formal declaration that would establish the campus as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrant students.

All photos by Danielle Perelman, used with permission.

Camila took part in the walkout in support of her undocumented peers. But she also participated because she knows new immigration laws could affect her life too.

Camila grew up in Mexico City and has a temporary student visa. Now, at Brown, she's heavily involved in activism and advocacy for marginalized communities. She's especially focused on helping victims of her home country's ongoing drug war. (We're withholding her last name because of the sensitivity of the situation.)

But now, things feel different for her. Donald Trump's election has engendered a new wave of hate and xenophobia across the country, inspired in part by the president-elect's own anti-immigrant stances.

Now Camila says she feels scared to walk home from the library at night. She's afraid of the angry, harassing voices that swarm her every time she logs online. She's worried about what Trump's presidency means for her future, and her friends' futures, especially if the federal government keeps their promise to crack down on immigration.

Brown University isn't the only place where this sanctuary movement has come to a head.

In fact, more than 100 other colleges reportedly held their own walkouts at the same time as this one in cooperation with an immigrant activist organization called Movimiento Cosecha.

By formally declaring itself as a sanctuary, Brown University and other universities like it could protect undocumented students from harsh or unfair targeting by federal authorities. If they lived on a sanctuary campus, undocumented students could continue to pursue their educations with less fear of being turned in for arrest or deportation.

"The university should understand that you cannot study in peace if you're worried about your health or about your legal status in the country, or if you're worried about whether to wear your hijab or not," Camila says.

This kind of sanctuary policy could be meaningful for about 150 people at Brown, including students, faculty, staff, and families who are affiliated with the university in some way.

That's still a fairly small undocumented population in the grand scheme of things, but it'd be a particularly powerful statement to have an Ivy League school with a reputation for academic progress and bright alumni leaders spearheading this kind of movement.

Which brings us to another good question: Why wouldn't the school agree to these measures? Well, sanctuary cities are already reportedly being threatened with a loss of federal funding, and campuses that declare themselves as immigrant sanctuaries might be placing themselves at a similar risk. One spokesperson for Brown has also indicated that some aspects of the sanctuary request would fall outside the school's legal jurisdiction.

This march is just one small part of a bigger movement all over the country to build safe places following Trump's election.

For an immigrant student like Camila, this matters both personally and professionally. While she is fortunate enough to be attending Brown on scholarship with the assistance of a student visa, that paperwork only offers her temporary protection. But a sanctuary title would allow her to chase her ambitious dreams with less fear.

"[I want to be] someone who can connect with marginalized communities but also kind of have the human capital to talk to government people as well, and just creating those bridges," she said.

To do this, she'll need to build that network of connections and secure a work visa to stay in the United States after college. With current rules in place, it'll be hard, but not impossible, to achieve these goals. But she worries that in Trump's America, her ambitions will be impossible.

"Honestly one of the reasons I came here was just to feel safe," she said, referring to the work she's already done as an advocate against the drug war that has left her targeted in her home country.

"I could go back but it's really hard to find a community. Once I did here, it was the right place, and I want to stay now. And I think it's legitimate."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

This story was originally published on The Mighty and originally appeared here on 07.21.17


Most people imagine depression equals “really sad," and unless you've experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it's different for everyone.

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Photo by Vanessa Garcia from Pexels

A professor's message to students has gone viral.

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Most teachers I've known have bent over backwards to help students succeed during this time, taking kids' mental and emotional health into consideration and extending the flexibility and grace we all could use. But teachers have their own mental and emotional needs, too, and at some point, something's gotta give.

A college student posted screenshots of a professor's message on Twitter with the comment "someone PLEASE check on my professor." It's simply incredible.

The message reads:

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