Sankofa by Jana Dorsey

Sankofa originates from the Akan in Ghana. The Akan believe in the importance of using history as a blueprint for planning for what is ahead. Sankofa for me is the way that my grandparents raised their children on a small island in the Caribbean and how those values moved through my mother and later through me. From my earliest memories, my parents instilled in me the importance of helping others. As a college senior, I was contemplating next steps when Life Together emerged as an opportunity. As an endemic easterner completing undergrad in the Midwest, I was thrilled to return to the East Coast even if it was an unfamiliar city. I did not know it at the time, but I now recognize that move as honoring my sankofa.

Through Life Together, I served at the Boston Area Youth Organizing Project as an organizer and office manager. At BYOP, I was blessed to assimilate to the culture of the space and ended up meeting some of my best friends and my partner. BYOP’s model is youth led. I had the unique opportunity to foster young people in their own leadership. During my year with BYOP, I participated in dialogue with Boston mayoral candidates; traveled to D.C., NYC, Western Mass and Miami for rallies, conferences and retreats; and met organizers from all over the country who have dedicated their lives to social justice, human rights and the movement.

My 2013-14 LT cohort, housemates, the LT staff (Arrington, Jason and Rebecca), prayer partners and Friday trainings all contributed to my transition to “adulting.” The greatest impacts that Life Together had on me were: recognizing the importance of self-reflection and the significance of empowerment in building relationship via sharing our stories. My housemates and I bonded through the ups and downs of the year. From the first day that we met to traveling together to Montreal to closing out the year, being in that space with these specific people (Rebecca, Sam, Hannah, Dan, Tina, Patrick and Justin) happened for a reason. Post Life Together, I finished my masters in International Relations and currently serve nearly 200 students as the Assistant Director of the Opportunity Scholars office at Northeastern University. Most of my students are first generation college students and in the most cliché manner possible, they are the reason why I do what I do.