Today we are sharing an Adventure Scholarship recipient update sent to us by Sonya Buglion Gluck.
Sonya is a 2013 recipient of a Flyin Ryan Adventure Scholarship award. We helped her attend Kroka Expedition’s Ecuador Semester, an outdoor education program focused on experiential learning, adventure sports and traditional skills. She has continued in subsequent years to undertake adventures which are designed to make the world a better place, including founding the non-profit Water Wanderings, which empowers young people to develop healthy relationships with themselves, each other and the earth. She has also participated in the Ala Archa Eco Leader Project which brought her to Kyrgyzstan. We are very proud of the person she has become and look forward to continuing to share her exploits in years to come. We particularly liked that she defined herself as a “recovering racist”. Like the rest of us, she wasn’t born that way. Her childhood years provided her with an unwritten, unspoken natural bias (like many of us) that she identified and dealt with. I wish more people would make that effort. Congratulations Sonya; you are making the world a better place.
Back in 2013, Sonya shared with us the following thoughts on her Core Values:
“Though I never met Ryan and I don’t know a great deal about him, I was very touched by the video about him, what was written about his life on the website, and most of all, his core principles. I don’t know that I’ve ever found something so simple and so true that expresses what is most important to me. Some of his core principles don’t apply to me directly, such as being a good uncle, but the fundamental idea of loving your family is important to me as well. Two principles I would add to Ryan’s list are ‘stay true to myself ‘ and ‘be receptive’.
The following letter is a powerful call to action Sonya wrote to white people who supported her fundraising efforts for Kroka:
“Dear Kroka supporters,
Seven years ago, you invested in me and my education by contributing to my fundraising campaign to attend Kroka Expeditions. I learned a lot from Kroka and I am grateful for your support. I am reaching to you today to thank you and also to share some educational resources and opportunities to contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve come to realize that one of the most powerful things I can do to support the current global uprising is to reach out to white people in my life, and I believe you are one of them (though I realize that some of you may be white passing).
We are living in a time of reckoning. The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the extraordinary economic inequality and injustice in our country and the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin two weeks ago yesterday sparked a global uprising to demand an end to institutionalized racism and police brutality. How we respond to racism today will reverberate far into the future.
As white people, we have the privilege to choose to ignore racism and the daily violence, discrimination and micro aggressions faced by people of color, and in particular Black people. But complacency is not neutral; it allows the continued exploitation and oppression of our neighbors, friends, and colleagues who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Please join me in taking an active stance against racism and contribute your time and/or resources to the Black Lives Matter movement.
If you have not considered racism much, I recommend spending some time reading, watching and learning more about racism. The Coalition of Anti Racist Whites has some great resources , and here’s a Guide to Anti-Racism for Beginners. At the same time, we have a lifetime to educate ourselves, and there are a lot of urgent actions going on right now – so please take action as well! A 17 year old named Nico created a site with information about ways you can help the Black Lives Matter Movement, which includes ways to donate without spending your own money and many actions that can be taken from the comfort of your home. When we do nothing, we perpetuate racism – it’s like standing still on an escalator.
Confronting racism as white people often feels risky, but the truth is, the risk is in our heads. I’m a recovering racist and confronting the racist ideology I’ve inherited as a white person has been the most meaningful and fulfilling journey of my life (even more transformational than Kroka). Racism will not end unless we, as white people, abolish white supremacy. It is in our best interest to do so, because no matter how much we’ve benefited from whiteness materially, racism has deprived us of our humanity.
Thank you for investing in me. I hope you will also invest in a racially just future for this country.