With Humility and Confidence, Latina Youth Start a Movement

Deyssy Mosso and Santos Amaya, two young women with passion, vision, and persistence, are attempting to create equitable and just conditions for immigrant youth through LAYC’s Latino Youth Leadership Council (LYLC). In fact, Deyssy and Santos are the LYLC founders, and in under a year they have led the LYLC in organizing four major conferences, one youth summit, and various other educational and cultural events, reaching more than 600 people in our city. How did their idea to organize a Latino Youth Summit become a movement that has had such profound reach? Read the following interview to find out!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your personal dreams for the future.

Santos Amaya: My name is Santos Amaya, and I am 19 years old. I am a student at Capital City Public Charter School and graduating soon, in the summer of 2018. I’m originally from El Salvador. One of the reasons why I came to the United States was because in the canton [district] where I come from there are many challenges. There are not many resources, there is extreme poverty, there is violence, and the schools are not that good. If I would have stayed there, I might not be studying anymore. I came here because I’ve always wanted to succeed, go to university, get my degree, and represent my family and my Latino community.

Deyssy Mosso: My name is Deyssy Mosso, and I am from Guerrero, Mexico. This past summer I graduated from Cesar Chavez [Public Charter School], Capitol Hill, and I am currently a freshman at the University of the District of Columbia, majoring in social work. Since childhood, I had the dream to become a lawyer and a teacher. I came to the United States when I was 12 years old. I came here for many reasons. One of those reasons is that in my town there’s a lack of education. Children only finish sixth grade, and they can’t continue to study because of a lack of funding and resources to support the schools. Also, there’s a lot of poverty, drug trafficking, and violence. In December 2009, I decided to come to the United States, hoping to have a better life and the opportunity to have a higher education. Now, I can reflect and see that every sacrifice and the hard work was worth it. I want to become a lawyer and keep supporting and helping my Latino community and keep representing the voices of youth. Our voices have power, and with our power, we can create positive changes in our communities. I’m proud to be Latina.

Why did you start the Latino Youth Leadership Council (LYLC)?

Santos Amaya: A year ago, Deyssy and I attended a regional youth summit in Maryland, which sparked the idea that in order to bring about transformation something needed to be done locally in Washington, DC. We started the LYLC initially with the simple vision of a youth summit for recent young immigrant students here in DC, so that they would feel that they have the support of other youth like them and the community. We reached out to LAYC, and little by little our group started to grow. We would meet to learn how to organize and then put it into practice in the real world.

What do you hope happens this year in LYLC?

Santos Amaya: Now that this group has grown, I would like more young people to get involved and fight for justice and our rights. Change is already happening. Two youth who started with us this summer are now leading our meetings this year. Another member, April, is working with various other activist youth groups to fight for immigrant rights. I would love to see many more youth who are trained in LYLC lead new groups, start their own movements, and I hope that we are always united in the efforts. It would also be great for us to continue to have the support of adults as well. Help from LAYC and other organizations will allow us to grow more and more.

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