So this past week has been a great stride in the right direction at IC. I have met some adversity, but challenged the issue, brought it to light, and defeated it. I haven't felt drive like this for quite some time, and though the work hours are long, and some times very arduous, I understand why this experience can mean so much to so many people.
This past week, I got my first and second screening agreement in. What this means is that I finally called a random school, college, or place of worship, gave a pitch about IC to a person I've never talked to, and convinced them to take time out of their schedules and put together an assembly of at least 200 people for a church or college (500 for a school), where we show our documentary. Ok, so not every person we call is random, and IC does have a ton of contacts, but a lot of the time we are calling random people, or cold calling as we say, and really trying to pitch a foreign concept. This is why in the last post I said I felt like being a telemarketer. But this week one of my screening agreements was very special. A young girl from VA (she's only 15 and crazy mature already), has been trying to host a screening with IC for four semesters. She started in her middle school, and is now a freshmen IB student at her high school. She literally lives and breathes IC, and has already made quite a name for herself within the organization. She has struggled with outside factors in the past, and her administrations have alway put the veto on her hosting our screenings. She has been shut down 3 times, yet still puts in the work each year to try and wear down her administration and push for something she really believes in.
We have a rule here that we don't do evening events at high schools due to past experiences with terrible attendance, but this week, we made an exception. Our young fifteen year old friend did all the work she coul to get us at her high school. She solicited teachers, her IB program coordinator, and finally her principal (whom I spoke with many times on the phone), and got the signatures needed to book her screening. She was elated, and ready to hear us bang the gong (a literal gong in the office) that marks a booked screening, but unfortunately her district would not allow IC to have a merchandise table during school hours. Since we do all our presentations for free, we need these tables to pay for things like our vans, gas, and promotional material, so with no merchandise table, there is no event. She was devastated, yet driven, and was not ready to give up this time. Because she has shown so much perseverance in the past and made such a name for herself, with a little push from myself and a receptionist who as worked with this young girl for two years, we convinced IC to let us host an evening screening at her school.
The reason this was such a win was because this girl has done so much for IC, and has worked incredibly hard to host a screening in her school. She has busted her butt for IC, and the thing is, she has empowered herself through trying to help others. She believes in IC. In high school there are so many places to invest your time and talents, and a plethora of different identities one can take on, but for her, it's not sports, theater, or choir, it is IC (along with academics cuz this girl is smart!). Being able to put her on skype, have the 70 plus people sitting in a room trying to book screenings cheer for her with utmost sincerity, and let her watch the gong ring, was incredibly moving. In fact, this is one of the reasons I love IC. We don't only help Ugandans empower themselves and work on a horizontal level between two cultures, but we empower American youth as well. My Dad always talks about how kids don't protest like the used to, but working for Invisible Children, and having participated in their nationwide events, and seeing youth like this girl completely devote their time, money, and talents to ending a war, I'm starting to question if that sentiment is true.
This was a good good week, and I'm hoping my trip continues in this fashion.
Stay tuned for a video of the gong being banged, which will give a little more incite, and some visuals, of what this actually means!