The following features highlights of a piece written by Courtney Martin with UWC-USA’s Selena Sermeno. Courtney’s piece can be found here.
Courtney Martin’s first meeting with Selena Sermeno changed the American feminist, author, and social activist’s life.
“I can’t even tell you what she did, exactly, because she’s sort of mystical in that way,” Martin wrote in a recent newsletter. “It’s like just being around her made me see farther, breathe deeper, de-personalize and settle into myself.”
For the past 17 years, Selena has mentored teens from more than 80 countries through her involvement with the United World College-USA and UWC-Costa Rica. She holds a doctorate in psychology with a focus on children who have experienced war. Selena is also an expert witness for death penalty cases in which she is called on to give the context for violence and healing.
Courtney, who referred to Selena as a gift to her life, presented Selena with five questions, including what she would do to make sure people’s mental health needs were taken care of, assuming she were president for a day.
- Mental health professionals would be considered essential workers.
- There would be a national public health educational initiative around grief management, consolation, trauma treatment, and prevention accessible to everyone through different media sources.
- Crisis communication would be a skill required of all leaders and press.
- I would deliver messages that foster a sense of belonging and make interpersonal relationships a priority, especially in lock down.
Dignity and not further humiliation of the marginalized would be a guiding principle.