Just World Festival


Christine Tamir

President of Just World, senior Sameen Yusuf, poses in front of the Just World banner.

Students, teachers and community members alike gathered in AHS’ cafeteria on Feb. 22 from 2:30 – 6 p.m. to promote youth activism at the Just World Festival. This year’s committee hosted 33 exhibits, ranging from school organizations like Green Atoms, to outside organizations like St. Peter’s Love Quilt project.

“I think it went great,” Just World sponsor Jan Kamide said. “This one was even more student-directed than last year’s so that was wonderful.”

Much of the credit for the success of the Just World festival has been accredited to senior president Sameen Yusuf.

“Sameen is phenomenal,” Just World Sponsor Jan Kamide said. “She is just so well-connected with student activists and organizations in D.C. She can call on people to speak and to come [to Just World]. She has a network. That was her area.”

Yusuf joined Just World as a sophomore, at the urging of her sponsors from LearnServe International (LSI).

“The sponsors of Just World were also my mentors for LSI and they encouraged me to join the club because a lot of values from LSI align with Just World,” Yusuf said.

“Having this continuity [from 2012-2013] shows that kids are still active and involved,” Kamide said. “Sometimes you think, ‘oh that’s fading,’ [due to] the ideas of assimilation while being in America, and ‘let’s not think about the rest of the world,’ but you can see that [cultures are] very much alive.”

Just World’s success involves numerous factors-the vendors, organizations, exhibitors and student effort, but the uniqueness of the event is what ultimately attracts students to the festival.

“It’s so different, and there’s so much going on-there’s activities, people can talk to you-it’s a socializing event-there’s food, there’s culture, and it combines the beauty of AHS, because it provides everything we learn about and value through the IB program, but then it also emphasizes how we’re such a diverse school,” Yusuf said. “And that combination in the community of those two assets of the AHS community is why the festival is so popular.”

The Keynote address was given by Aaron Jenkins, a board member of the non-profit ScholarCHIPs, and an activist for Operation Understanding D.C. Students gathered to listen to him speak about the power of activism.

Besides several exhibits, films and talks about various organizations, attendees had the opportunity to make a difference by buying jewelery, food or other items. An AHS organization, Green Atoms, made almost $100 by only selling fruit and crepes.

One community organization, Ten Thousand Villages, had representative Kate McMahon attend the festival with fair trade items.

“We buy products from artisans for the full price, and sell it in the U.S,” McMahon explained. “It gives [the artisans] income. We were also here last year to spread the word about fair trade.”

Not all exhibits asked for donations, or encouraged students to buy items for a good cause. For many, the objective was simply to spread awareness about their cause.

“I wanted to advertise for the Youth Council Alternative House, and Just World seems like a great way to get the word out,” senior Just World member Sahil Chawla said. “I think it was great – I saw a lot of sophomores and juniors who signed up and got brochures. I think I achieved my goal of advertising for the youth council.”

Ultimately the Just World Festival was as a success, celebrating the cultures in our school and surrounding us.

“The culture in the room isn’t only on the flags,” Jenkins said during his keynote address, gesturing to the flags lining the ceiling. “They’re all around you.”