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Building South Asian Youth Leaders In The Bay - South Asian Activists Organize a Leadership
by Taz Ahmed (TazzyStar [at] gmail.com)
Monday Apr 18th, 2011 4:33 PM
On July 22nd, South Asian American teenagers from across the San Francisco Bay Area will convene for a life-changing experience. The youth will be attending the first ever Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS), a four-day leadership camp for youth of South Asian heritage seeking to learn about progressive issues, gain organizing skills, connect with other South Asian activists, and develop themselves into leaders. The all-inclusive camp will provide space for young people to learn skills on how to be a social activist, as well as learn about issues affecting the South Asian community both locally and globally.
OAKLAND, CA April 13, 2011 – On July 22nd, South Asian American teenagers from across the San Francisco Bay Area will convene for a life-changing experience. The youth will be attending the first ever Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS), a four-day leadership camp for youth of South Asian heritage seeking to learn about progressive issues, gain organizing skills, connect with other South Asian activists, and develop themselves into leaders. The all-inclusive camp will provide space for young people to learn skills on how to be a social activist, as well as learn about issues affecting the South Asian community both locally and globally.

BASS has been developed by a highly skilled volunteer collective of South Asian American organizers and activists looking to give back to the community by supporting the growth of young leaders. A quick look at BASS’ website at http://www.SolidaritySummer.org shows the breadth of experience of the organizing team, with doctors and lawyers joining political organizers and theatre producers. BASS is a project of the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA), an all volunteer organization working to educate, organize, and empower Bay Area South Asians.

“Organizing BASS has drawn together amazing South Asian organizers, scholars, and activists,” says Ramesh Kathanadhi, a BASS organizer. “Selfishly I am part of doing this to learn from my amazing peers, and make a space for us to connect more deeply with our communities here in the Bay Area.”

BASS is open to youth of South Asian heritage ranging in age from 14 to 19 years old. The camp costs only $50, which covers all housing and food expenses for four days and three nights. Held in the beautiful Center for Third World Organizing Training and Retreat Center (often described as the “CTWO Mansion”), the intense camp will cover a wide range of issues such as Creative Arts and Action, Racial Profiling, Hip Hop Revolutionaries, and Environmental Justice. An important component of the curriculum will be a look back at the 100 years of history of South Asian Bay Area student activism.

"BASS participants will be building on the legacy of 100 years of Bay Area South Asian student activism,” says Anirvan Chatterjee, long time ASATA activist. “Desi students at UC Berkeley and Stanford during the 1910s were fighting colonial rule, organizing with other communities and making their own media. The BASS summer program is a great way for youth with an interest in civics or politics to dive deeper into our community's traditions."

Though in the inaugural year, this is not is not the first time a camp for South Asian youth has been created. In fact, in 2004 and 2005 the Bay Area hosted Organizing Youth! (OY!), a training camp for Desi youth. Across the nation, various South Asian youth camps like this have popped up over the past fifteen years, from NYC’s Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS) to Washington DC’s DC Desi Summer. Many of the organizers at this year’s BASS have come through one of the many programs.

“YSS ’99 completely changed my view of what it meant to be South Asian in the U.S. and what I could do with my life,” says YSS alum and radio producer Virali Gokaldas. “Growing up as one of the few South Asians interested in environmental action and corporate accountability, I remember the relief in learning that there were many others like me. It was from the peers and facilitators that I gained inspiration. I look forward to giving back and doing the same for other young South Asian activist minded folks.”

Youth interested in applying for BASS can visit the website at http://www.solidaritysummer.org and apply online before the deadline of May 16. BASS organizers will be holding two info sessions for people that want to learn more, one on April 24 in Berkeley and the other on May 8 through an online webinar. If you would like to make a donation to BASS or to join as a volunteer, or for more information, please visit the website at http://www.solidaritysummer.org, the facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/BayAreaSolidaritySummer or e-mail at bass [at] asata.org.

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