It is August 26th. The day we have been planning for all summer long.  We cannot believe that is finally here and we are so excited to meet all of you! We just finished up an amazing week of staff training with the Hu Rights FYSTAFF and we are so proud of everything they have done so far.  It is going to be an incredible week! 


Here is a letter from us to you:

Dear First-Year Students,

 First of all, hello and welcome to the First-Year Student Outreach Project! We’ve been working all summer to help plan FYSOP and are beyond excited that’s it’s here! For FYSOP 24, we’ve taken a global focus on human rights, and are connecting the local service here in Boston to the international community. We want to challenge you all to approach service through a human rights lens rather than acts of charity. We’ll be working with some really great sites that focus mainly on prisoners rights, refugee and immigrant rights, and identity rights. We hope that throughout FYSOP, you are challenged to step out of your comfort zone, explore new areas of service, and truly take the time to evaluate what human rights means to you. We hope that through working with the human rights issue area, you will not only learn to greater appreciate the rights you have, but also become more aware of the human rights abuses going on at a local, national, and especially global level. We hope that you become impassioned to protect and respect the rights of others, and develop your own definition for what it means to have human rights. And of course, have an amazing FYSOP experience!


Hu-Rights Love,

Morgan and Emily 


Two Weeks until Move-in!!

Hey everyone! FYSOP is only two weeks away, can you believe it!? We are getting geared up here at the Community Service Center making sure everything is perfect for FYSOP. We are so excited for all of you to get to BU and to fall in love with FYSOP. Check out this announcement from the move-in and registration crew.


Moving off to college is so exciting but can be hectic with all the packing and traveling.

Fortunately for you FYSOPers we try to make the transition as smooth as possible!

Please take ONE MINUTE to fill out the mandatory FYSOP Travel Itinerary form. If

your moving in from around the corner and just bringing one suitcase, or flying in from

abroad and shipping all of your life’s belongings, we need to know your story! Where are

you coming from? How are you getting here? Do you need a pick-up from the airport?

Help us make Move-In Day on August 26 a fun and exciting day by filling out your travel itinerary at http://fysoptravelitinerary.eventbrite.com/. This way we can welcome you to campus right when you arrive!

Malala Day and the Right to Education

On October 9, 2012, the Taliban attempted to assassinate Malala Yousafzai on her way home from Swat Valley in Pakistan. She was fifteen years old, on a schoolbus on her way home from taking an exam in school. She was shot because her activism for education rights, and for being a young woman who refused to stop going to school. With the help of intensive medical care at a military hospital, Malala was able to recover from the failed assassination attempt, despite the bullet passing through her head, neck, and spinal cord. She continues her advocacy for women’s rights and the right to education, and is the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in history. This Friday, July 12th, marks her 16th birthday, and her scheduled visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York City, which the UN is calling “Malala Day” in her honor. This appearance will also mark her first major public speech since the October shooting.

Malala’s UN visit and bravery have also inspired a stronger push for achieving the UN Millenium Development Goal of establishing universal primary education by December 2015. Currently, there are an estimated 57 million children out of primary school as a result of conflict or war-torn countries. There are additionally over 120 million young people between 15-24 years old that lack basic reading and writing capabilities, putting them out of the job market. The majority of these children and young people are women. In reference to Malala’s attack and the general opposition many have toward educating women, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says, “Through hate-filled actions, extremists have shown what frightens them the most: a girl with a book.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Skypes with Malala. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

As horrific as Malala’s attempted assassination was, it has drawn attention to the global issue of the right to education, and the barriers many young people face in trying to achieve it. In June, Malala was the first to sign a worldwide petition, backed by Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Education, calling for action to protect the right for every child to attend school in a safe environment.

More on the Right to Education

More information about the status of other UN Millenium Development Goals can be read here. To help you visualize some of the barriers to education children around the world face, check out this BBC picture story about the journey a young Tanzanian girl has to take to school each day. Also, a recent documentary Girl Rising continues to address the issue of global education, especially for women and girls, and was partly inspired by Malala’s story.

Site Visit – Lutheran Social Services

Hello all! During the summer we’ll be going on site visits to all the great organizations that we’ll be working with this FYSOP. This past Monday, we got to check out Lutheran Social Services of New England, LSS for short. LSS is one of the largest social services organizations in New England, and although they serve and assist various groups, we will be working most directly with their programs for refugees. This FYSOP, volunteers will get to work with LSS in two different ways: at the Worcester office helping with English as a second language (ESL) classes and orientation, and on the New Lands Farm for new Americans. (check out their Facebook page here)

New Lands Farm - Ashley's house

New Lands Farm – Ashley’s house

We met our main site contact, Brigid, at the Worcester office and headed right over to New Lands Farm. New Lands is a program run through LSS that works to empower new Americans by keeping them connected to their cultural farming traditions. The majority of the farmers are refugees who grow food to support themselves and their family, and also to sell in local farmers’ markets and through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. We got to meet Ashley, the agriculture program specialist who gave us a tour of the grounds. There were so many different kinds of produce, and we even got to sample some fresh strawberries (they were delicious).

Artsy picture of Morgan at the farm. Photo cred to Emily

Artsy picture of Morgan at the farm. Photo cred to Emily

After the farm we made our way back to the office to get a quick tour of the facilities for the ESL classes, and then made our way back to Boston. We’re so excited to be working with LSS and can’t wait to continue on our site visits!

Our great Vine of the road trip to Worcester. Featuring our favorite song, “I Love It” by Icona Pop.

Check back for more updates, and as always, HuRightz Love,

Morgan & Emily

World Refugee Day

Over 43.7 million refugees are displaced across the world.  The United Nations declared today, June 20th, to be World Refugee Day (WRD) in order to honor the millions of men, women, and children forced to flee their homes in the face of violence and war.  In 2000, the UN General Assembly passed resolution 55/76 to establish World Refugee coinciding with the previously established African Refugee Day.  This resolution also noted the fiftieth anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which is the groundbreaking piece of legislation that defines who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of states.  The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, uses this convention in order to carry out their mission of coordinating international efforts to assist all refugees as well as resolve refugee issues.

This year’s UNHCR’s World Refugee Day campaign has a focus on families stating, “One family torn apart by war is too many.”  Their goal is to share refugee stories to allow people to make personal connections with these families.  You can check out these stories through the UNHCR’s Dilemma series on YouTube: here.  You can also get involved by raising awareness through social media as well as making donations. Angelina Jolie has added her voice to this campaign in the following PSA.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has made a statement for WRD focusing on the plight of the millions of refugees in Syria.  The 1.6 million registered refugees from Syria are cause for serious concern as Guterres states, “In all the years I have worked on behalf of refugees, this is the most worrying I have ever witnessed.”  You can read his full statement here.

As our FYSOP vision for human rights has a distinctive global perspective, this day is extremely important to us.  We have been in contact with various refugee resettlement agencies here in the Boston area to plan service.  One of the really cool organizations we have been in touch with is Lutheran Social Services.  We are planning to work with their New Americans program at their New Lands Farm as well as in their office with their ESL programs.

Hope you keep the millions of refugees in mind on this day and that you are getting excited to be able to give back in August.

HuRights Love,

Emily and Morgan

Free Pussy Riot!

Hey guyz! We’ve been brushing up on our hu rightz knowledge by watching some awesome documentaries. We just finished the brand new HBO documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer. Pussy Riot is a feminist protest group in Russia that’s know for their spontaneous performances of punk protest songs. Members of the group wear bright colored balaclavas (ski masks) and dresses and use performance art and music as a form of political protest.

In 2012,  three members of the group – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhinawere, and Yekaterina Samutsevich – were arrested for a controversial anti-Putin performance in a Russian cathedral. The documentary follows the three women through their trial and exposes the corrupt judicial system in Russia, offering an eye-opening view of the backlash and support Pussy Riot received internationally.

Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova detained during their trial.

How does this apply to human rights you may ask? According to the Amnesty International 2013 State of the World Report, 101 countries “repressed their people’s right to freedom of expression,” 80 countries conducted unfair trials, and prisoners of conscience were detained in 57 countries. “Prisoner of conscience” is a term that refers to anyone imprisoned because of their religion, race, or political beliefs, like the women of Pussy Riot. Although we knew unjust trials occur around the world and even here in the United States, it was still really shocking to see three young women (Nadezhda, or Nadia, is only 23) being persecuted and imprisoned for what most people consider a basic human right: freedom of speech. We highly recommend you check out the documentary (if you are lucky like Emily and have an HBO Go account) or read more about the Pussy Riot trial and let us know what you think!


While we definitely don’t expect everyone to have the same opinions about the documentary, or about what Pussy Riot does, we hope the concepts of what constitutes a fair trial and a person’s right to free speech stir up some conversation and discussion about human rights and social justice!


– MWhales & Emlawz