My Fulbright journey in the United States has been a huge revelation to me concerning some topics that I would have never thought about before I started my grant. One of them is the constant struggle between social and market justice, in a context in which the notion of individualism is beloved by constituents across the nation. Related to that struggle is an issue that I’ve become particularly interested in: the crisis of gun violence in America. In learning about the crisis during my Fulbright grant, I’ve heard debates about whether only individuals should be blamed for gun violence, or if the gun industry and the government should be blamed instead. It appears to me that the answer to the issue lies more in value judgments and advocacy than in scientific evidence. In other words, epidemiological evidence has not been the absolute foundation upon which changes have been implemented. When I write that, I remember a mentor who once said, “science pursues truth whereas practice pursues values.”
When I learned about this year’s Millennial Trains Project (MTP), I felt it would be a unique opportunity for me to gain some trans-regional perspectives on gun violence prevention. My MTP project objective is to challenge Millennials to engage in gun violence prevention advocacy–and any other “changes” that go towards the “shared values” held by a community. I do not want to speculate about the extent to which evidence-based practice has become “hypothetical.”
If the answer to the issue lies more in value judgments, as I believe, giving constituents the tools to correctly frame their message is priceless. Everyone can advocate and own the democratic system and make contributions to their respective communities.
For my MTP project, advocacy is framed in a context of educating and mobilizing Millennials in order to support improvements in population health and safety. Being the largest living generation (and therefore the one most affected by gun violence), Millennial voices are more crucial than ever before.
When I embarked on my MTP journey, it it did not take long for me to realize that I was about to be immersed in a community of brilliant and diverse entrepreneurs, social innovators, and mentors. Seeing and taking in some of the most scenic U.S. landscapes and countryside, while socializing with some of the most brilliant Millennials, has added another dimension to my journey. The train has become a space of encouragement, opportunity, partnership, mentorship, collaboration, social innovation, new visions, and perspectives.
As this journey continues, I am looking forward to hearing and learning about new perspectives on gun violence prevention advocacy to create sustainable, societal changes.
So far, I have had enriching dialogues with representatives of the Coalition for Gun Violence Prevention in Los Angeles and the Law Center for Gun Violence Prevention in San Francisco.
I will share more about those particular meetings in my next blog post, so stay tuned!