An Or Tzedek Activist’s Social Justice Journey

Doug Lavey participated in Or Tzedek’s first program in the summer of 2007.  In his first post for Or Tzedek, Doug reflects on how his Or Tzedek  experience fostered a commitment to social justice and led him to take advantage of other opportunities. Doug currently studies Political  Science and Economics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

My Experience with Social Justice

By Doug Lavey
Or Tzedek Participant, Summer 2007

Doug Lavey blog photo

Doug Lavey

It is rare to be offered the opportunities for learning, growth and social justice that one can find at Or Tzedek. Indeed, your high school and college years offer a small window to take advantage of social service programs directed specifically towards teenagers.

My involvement in social justice programs began at Or Tzedek in the summer of 2007. Since that summer, I furthered my involvement and dedication to social justice through my academics, extracurricular activities and work.

My dedication to social justice has blossomed into an incredible journey that has taken me all over the world. This includes two programs through PanimWorks (Southwest and DC Jam) a trip to Costa Rica with International Student Volunteers and work as a student coordinator for Invisible Children.

Besides summer social justice programs, I volunteered and had internships with JCUA and the UIC Office of Sustainability.

Through these experiences I have become involved in affairs at the local, state, national, and international levels. I have had the privilege of working with Navajo Indians, sustainable farmers in rural areas of Costa Rica, former child soldiers from Uganda, and underprivileged or homeless individuals in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Since I began college, I was able to take many of the lessons I learned about myself and society into a very rewarding and educational job as a resident advisor. Furthermore, this summer, I will be interning in Washington, D.C. with a political organization.

I cannot stress enough my encouragement for teens to find the public service programs that are available to you only at this age and stay informed on local, state, national and international issues. The world faces many challenges, and our generation will be responsible for addressing and finding innovative solutions.

Understanding an issue is the first step to getting involved and finding solutions. This will open up many doors for you, as it did for me.

Education led me to the group Invisible Children, dedicated to stopping the longest running war in Africa. I am currently the vice president of the Invisible Children chapter on campus and have found it to be extremely rewarding and eye-opening.

Ask questions and demand answers. Get your friends, peers, and family involved; I’ll end with a popular and fitting saying from Invisible Children, “Ask! The worst thing they could do is say no.”

Learn more about Or Tzedek, JCUA’s Teen Social Justice Institute


Read more posts by Or Tzedek participants Sophie Leff and Emily Isaacson.

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One Response to An Or Tzedek Activist’s Social Justice Journey

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