The National Youth Leadership Council has been a home to me for the past four years of my life. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Laura Bolling. I am currently a senior at Hamline University, finishing off my final days. I will be graduating with a BA in Communication Studies. I was brought into the NYLC family 4 years ago when I applied for a work-study position, and I got placed to be the Conference Assistant. I was kind of thrown in, not knowing anything about anyone, and not knowing much about the organization either. Being an 18 year old in a new city, meeting new people, I was naïve and very unsure of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be.
I slowly got to know the staff my first year, and was taking on anything and everything that the conference team needed me to do. This included: data entry, reaching out to affiliates and exhibitors, marketing the conference, organizing things in the office, being the volunteer coordinator at the conference – the list goes on. I don’t think I was able to fully appreciate everything that I was doing or the purpose of the organization until I was able to see everyone working together in action at the National Service-Learning Conference® that year. It was amazing to see everything that I’d been helping work toward all come together, and hearing what others had to say about what we had pulled together. At that moment it clicked for me: this small organization with only about 20 members was kind and helped rekindle my hope and faith in this world. The conference helps change people’s lives, inspires people to go out and complete service and promote service-learning, and most importantly advocates that the youth in today’s society are the key to everything. The youth of today are the ones who will change the world and are the ones who will continue to make a difference.
This organization is here to recognize that and to give youth resources to network, learn about service-learning, and to spread the word and help change the world. I knew right then and there that I did not want to leave this organization. I remember when I told my supervisor that I wanted to come back, a look of shock crossed her face and she asked: “Wait, you want to come back?” I said yes, and that I’d be back near the end of August and would start as soon as I could, and have been back every year since then.
A lot has changed within this organization in the past four years: the people on the staff, the office space, the hours that I worked, but there’s one thing that has stayed the same and that is the meaning and purpose of NYLC. I’ve learned to “create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world with young people, their school, and their communities through service-learning”. I will always remember this organization and intend to come back. I will Serve. Learn. Change the World® through my next steps in life, starting off by working for AmeriCorps in a Minneapolis high school this next year.