Combining Field Education with Election Cycles and Inequality

In the fall of 2020, the United States of America faced a unique perfect storm of anxieties: the election cycle, rising case numbers of the pandemic and the ongoing stress of remote and virtual education. For Ana Lara Lopez, her work with the Kairos Center and the Poor People’s Campaign became more important than ever.

Lopez knew she wanted to work with the Kairos Center while she studied at Warren Wilson College for her undergraduate degree, and she reached out to the team as soon as she started her education at Union. This also means that she works very closely with the Poor People’s Campaign; she highly recommends both sites as potential field education sites for future students.

“Kairos works to strengthen and expand transformative movements for social change that can draw on the power of religions and human rights,” said Lopez. “I wanted a chance to bring together my organizing background with my current studies.”

As her work has been fully digital, not many of her duties have changed due to COVID-19, just her location. Though it does mean there are fewer opportunities to see the behind-the-scenes of other exciting projects, she’s able to advance different campaigns and projects remotely.

One major project she has helped to lead is the GenNOW Organizing Force through the PPC.

“We have a total of twenty-seven participants from seventeen different states within this GenNOW program,” said Lopez. “These are young leaders who are impacted by the systemic injustices of today and who are working to combat the five evils the Poor People’s Campaign focuses on, which are: systemic poverty, systemic racism, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism, as well as the distorted moral narrative within Christian Nationalism in the United States.”

Lopez suggests students exploring field education opportunities should keep an open mind and a willingness to be surprised; she encourages students to “slow down and notice how Spirit, Divine/God works in unexpected ways and in the subtleties of everydayness.”

“Because as Reverend Liz Theoharis says, ‘when we lift from the bottom up, everyone rises,’” she said. “I believe that and it’s a lesson I will take with me wherever I go.”

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