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Home News Organizing Updates Tips on Organizing a Teach-In
Tips on Organizing a Teach-In PDF Print E-mail

Reserve a space in advance. Talk to community centers, places of worship, local unions or your school if you are a student. There may be special procedures to follow or forms to fill out, so don't wait until the last minute.

Make a checklist of essentials to take care of—a reliable sound system and someone who knows how to use it should be on the list.

Think broadly about possible speakers. Some ideas:

  • Ask former SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience in your area to talk about the School of the Americas/WHISC and their personal experiences.  

  • Co-sponsor or collaborate with hispanic organizations to make sure you are covering international perspectives. Some of their members may be able to speak on the effects of U.S. foreign policy from personal experience.

  • Invite local solidarity activists, including those who have traveled to Latin America and to Fort Benning, GA to protest aginst the SOA.  They can offer specific information on how citizens can actively oppose the SOA.
  • Ask professors of Latin American studies, who can give background on the School of the Americas, the history of the U.S. relationship to Latin America, alternatives to military repression, and other relevant topics.

  • Invite local journalists or newspaper editors who could write op-eds/editorials opposing the SOA.

Publicize far and wide. Use flyers, posters, table tents, leaflets, announcement bulletins, word of mouth, sidewalk chalk, plugs on campus radio, and other means to promote the event.

Get help to cover your costs, which may include speaker fees.  Ask for donations from local businesses: paper, envelopes, pens, poster board, paint, photocopying services, etc. If you want to serve refreshments, many bagel shops and grocery stores will give you day-old baked goods for free. Many colleges have funds reserved for invited speakers, for which registered groups are eligible to apply. Put in formal requests to departments: latin america studies, peace studies, international affairs, political science, religion, etc.

1,001 Household Uses for a Teach-In

Even beyond educating people on the School of the Americas/WHISC, you can (and should) use your teach-in to accomplish several objectives at once:

  • Throughout the teach-in, you can give your audience an immediate opportunity to act against the SOA/WHISC. In addition to a table with literature, have a letter-writing table set up with envelopes, paper, pens, addresses for your state representatives, and basic talking points on the SOA. This ensures that your efforts go beyond education and carry over into immediate action. Point out the table several times during the teach-in.
  • Use the opportunity to fundraise. At the letter-writing table, have clearly labeled containers for donations, and ask people to give what they can to cover the cost of postage and supplies. Between speakers, announce that you are taking a collection for [the cost of letter-writing supplies, photocopying more materials, bringing more speakers to campus, a donation to SOA Watch or one of the other organizations sponsoring the teach-ins, etc.] and pass around a basket. If you'd like to sell videos and books about the SOA as an additional fundraiser, we can sell them you at cost; contact SOA Watch.
  • Use the teach-in to build support for future actions and to mobilize for the November vigil action. Pass around a sign-up list for people who would like more information, want to be contacted to volunteer, or want to be notified of actions to close the SOA. Have another one at your tables. Publicize your group's meeting times.
  • Maximize the impact of the teach-in by getting media coverage. This means on and off-campus media-this is the time to use (or make) contacts at the school paper and radio station. Getting off-campus media coverage for your event is easier than you think, and it will help promote your message as well as demonstrate the strength of the opposition to the SOA. If you do get coverage, even in your school paper, send us your press clips.

Contact us

SOA Watch
733 Euclid Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

phone: 202-234-3440
email: info@soaw.org