This article originally appeared in Baltimore Jewish Times on March 4th 2022
Lou Fusco (they/them), 23, strives to advocate for social justice through their work at Repair the World Baltimore. Fusco graduated from Goucher College in 2021 with a degree in sociology and anthropology, and with a concentration in social justice. They also double minored in dance and women, gender, sexuality studies. After graduating, Fusco became a Repair the World fellow.
Lou Fusco currently lives in Charles Village.
How did your involvement with Hillel at Goucher College enhance your college experience?
I was involved with Goucher Hillel for three years. I started off as an engagement intern in my sophomore year, then went on to plan programming in my junior year and culminated my time as co- president during my senior. My time with Goucher Hillel enhanced my collegiate experience in multiple ways. The most notable being that some of my closest friends were made through Hillel. We would all hang out together, doing homework in the Hillel lounge. We also watched movies together after Shabbat dinner. Even though some of us have graduated and we’re spread out across a couple different states, we’re still in contact and talk to each other often.
Besides being able to make friends and feel connected to the Jewish community on campus, Goucher Hillel also provided me with space and time to find my Jewish identity. It’s still something that I am honing in on now, but Goucher Hillel was one of the first places I was able to discover how I wanted to celebrate and practice Judaism. It provided a safe space for me to question what I was taught before, deconstruct preconceived notions and rebuild myself as the Jew I wanted to be.
What does it mean to be a Repair the World fellow?
Being a Repair the World fellow means a lot of things. It means volunteering at local organizations, serving the community, sharing skills, entering the professional world, building relationships, inspiring others … I could go on. But, most of all, I think being a Repair the World fellow is all about learning. Through both local and national sessions, we learn about many different important issue areas like food justice, education justice and housing justice. It also means learning how to be an anti-racist and an active ally. At the heart of it all though is learning what social justice really looks like and how we can enact it on an individual, communal, national and eventually global level. It’s about understanding the long-standing connection of social justice to Judaism and then putting it into tangible and equitable action. Our organization is named after the Jewish value of tikkun olam — repairing the world. So, I believe that the fellowship, at its root, is about harnessing the power we all have towards fixing what has been broken.
How did you become involved with this work?
I see my work as a Repair the World fellow as a continuation of the work I was doing on Goucher College’s campus, both through Hillel and with my majors and minors as a whole. I actually found out about the fellowship through some of my connections at Goucher Hillel. I was a senior who was job hunting and my Hillel co-president, a junior at the time, shared with me the job listings posted by Repair the World. Unfortunately, I was not quite qualified for any of them. But a couple days later Goucher Hillel posted about the Repair the World fellowship on Instagram and how it was a great opportunity post-undergrad. It just felt right. One thing led to another, and a couple interviews later I was offered a position as a fellow with Repair the World Baltimore.
Why is social justice important to you?
Social justice is important to me simply because of the identities I hold. I am a queer, nonbinary, genderfluid Jew. I believe my mere existence is an act of resistance to the heteronormative, patriarchal, capitalist systems I was born into. At the same time, I have racial and class privilege that cannot be ignored. So, I also see how I need to use my positions of power to fight for the social justice of others who don’t have the same as me but should. I have always had a passion for social justice. It’s been ingrained in me from a young age. To me, asking why social justice is important is like asking why food or water is important. Because it’s needed.
Do you see yourself continuing in this field in the future?
I definitely see myself continuing to work in the social justice sphere. I know that I want to be an activist and an advocate. Whether that will be through a Jewish organization or not is still to be determined. Everyone tells me that I should go to law school. But right now, I’m focused on the fellowship and will see where it takes me.