Brian Foster is a recent graduate from Excel High School in South Boston and will be going on to study at UMASS Boston in September. Brian was very instrumental in organizing the Boston Public Schools walkouts and you may read more here in the March 11 Boston Globe article. I spoke with Brian about his work in organizing and here’s what he had to say.
You were very instrumental in coordinating and facilitating the BPS walk outs. How did you go about coordinating and facilitating and what tools did you use (like social media, texting, etc)? How do you feel you learned things like that?
I’m interested in my education and felt the need to get involved to stand up for what I and others believe in in regards to the BPS walks-outs. I worked very closely with the organization BYOP-Boston area Youth Organizing Project. They helped in providing a space and ways to connect with other students because we were working with a lot of different schools and needed help in the coordination piece. I started by creating a Facebook page and other teens who were involved bounced off that page and used other social media like Twitter and Snapchat and we also used an app to try and keep people engaged. I also did a lot of visits to other schools and talked to other teens to let them know what we were doing and how they could get involved with the work too. I think in terms of how I learned things like this, I’ve been really involved in debate in school and with an organization called Generation Citizen and feel like debate has helped prepare me for speaking and for public speaking.
What skills do you feel you have gained through your activism work?
I definitely feel like organizing is a big one and I mean the organizing of people. You have a lot of different schools and a lot of teens involved, there’s a lot of moving pieces. This was a challenging and difficult thing to do but it was helpful to work with BYOP and learn things from them in terms of organizing. I also feel like with debate that my public speaking has gotten very good and with the walkouts I did a lot of public speaking.
What are you interested in doing now that you are graduating from high school and what type of career are you interested in pursuing?
I’m going to be starting school at UMASS Boston in the fall, I’m excited. While the work with the walkouts was challenging I felt it was very important and it was something that made me think more about being involved in this kind of work in terms of organizing and social justice. I plan to study aerospace at UMASS but I’m thinking more and more about the possibility of creating a degree that focuses on organizing and working closely with communities and social justice.
Are you interested in learning more about leadership opportunities? The Boston Public Library, Teen Central has a Teen Leadership Council that meets monthly in Teen Central and there is a job help page that provides information on job opportunities, volunteer and internship opportunities.
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*”Teens Leading in the Community” features interviews and stories about teens leading in their communities by Jessi, the Teen Services Team Leader, Central, on the third Tuesday of every month