Photo caption: Participants share about the life moments that ignited their civil resistance stories.

Summer Institute participants wear many Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.59.22 AM‘hats’ – activists, educators, researchers, journalists – sometimes several at the same time. They come to the institute from around the world to deepen their understanding of the subject of civil resistance, and explore issues and challenges they face in the struggles that are being waged in their countries.  Participants acquire analytical and planning tools, and familiarize themselves with the latest data and research in the field: preparation and planning are key to a successful civil resistance campaign.

But involvement in a struggle for rights and justice is also a personal journey that demands intense dedication, strength, and resilience, and often includes pain and sacrifice.

This year, the Institute dedicated an evening to these stories, featuring key moments that changed everything for their protagonists: Transformative moments of realization that turned people into activists and the disenfranchised into community organizers. Moments in which a child discovered the power to stand against terror, when a judge turned down a promising career refusing to be part of a corrupt system, and encounters that made a journalist persevere against mounting threats, because there are stories that must be told. FullSizeRender

The stories shared came from Madagascar, Tunisia, Singapore, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, the Philippines and Afghanistan, but transcend geography, cultures and all other context. In the words of Xavier Alpasa from the Philippines, who shared his story: 

“It starts with a personal experience of struggle that connects with another soul’s anguish that we get transported to the universal need for social justice.  A fight that has brought me to this sacred space with you and everyone else who passionately believe in the common good.”