|Vol. 3, No. 2 - Spring 1997|
|In the last Estafeta, Lynn Fredriksson (ETAN's Washington Representative)
and John M. Miller (Media and Outreach Coordinator) introduced themselves. Here's the
third member of our staff, Kristin Sundell.
Greetings from ETAN's New Field Organizer
Hello! My name is Kristin Sundell, and last February I started working as ETAN's national field organizer. My work with ETAN had a hectic start, as I spent the first month preparing for and traveling with East Timorese refugee Bella Galhos on a national speaking tour organized by Global Exchange (see article and photo).
Since returning from that trip I have spent about two weeks of every month on the road, including visits to Tennessee, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and western New York State. (Potential ETAN chapters are now starting in Bloomington, IN, Milwaukee, WI, and Minneapolis, MN). I hope to meet with each of the ETAN local chapters within the next year. As I write, I am about to embark on a two-week trip in the southeast, including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida
Two years ago, I graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Although I entered college as a piano performance major, I soon realized that my activist-oriented priorities did not allow for long hours spent isolated in a practice room. After several false starts I created my own degree, focusing on social justice and the study of liberation theology, literature, African-American, and women's studies. Music and dance remain important parts of my life, although I have found little time for either in the past four months.
I first became aware of the situation in East Timor during a period of independent study in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Although I was rarely able to discuss politics openly during my time in Indonesia, it was often present as an undercurrent in conversations with my professors, fellow students and host families.
Our proximity to Aceh, and a conflict in the Batak Church in which the military imposed and backed their choice for the local Lutheran bishop, gave me a sense of the totalitarian nature of the Suharto regime. But it wasn't until I returned home that I began to understand the role of the United States as an active accomplice in the crimes of Suharto and other dictators around the world.
After graduating from college, I moved to Washington, DC and spent a year living in an intentional community committed to spirituality, a simplified lifestyle and social justice. While there, I also worked as an environmental lobbyist and organizer for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Last fall, I moved back to Minnesota to work as an organizer in the reelection campaign of Senator Paul Wellstone, (one of the few progressives in the United States Senate). More than anything else I have done, the Wellstone campaign (which used volunteers and an extensive field operation to counter a blitz of attack ads from the opponent) convinced me of the incredible power people have when they are committed and organized.
One of the best parts of the last four months has been the amazing people around the country with whom I have had the opportunity to meet and work. To all of you, thank you for your work and your commitment. What I do every day would be worth very little without it! I look forward to working with you to increase ETAN's ability to put pressure on the governments, corporations, politicians, and individuals responsible for the continuing crisis in East Timor. Please feel free to contact me with ideas and suggestions and let me know how I can help and support your efforts.
When Kristin finishes her southern tour, she will be settling down in Boston. In the meantime, you can reach her via the ETAN national office or at email@example.com.