From NYLC Youth Leadership Specialist Choua Her.
Two days after I began working at NYLC as the Youth Leadership Specialist, I found myself headed to the 2015 National Youth Leadership Training in northern Minnesota for a week-long camp with fellow staff and 22 Youth4Education Lead Activists to discuss education equity and what we can do about it. And while that may seem a bit overwhelming, it turned out to be the best kind of orientation into my work!
What I experienced at NYLT was a sense of community and belonging. I was not alone in my passion for social change. I found others who were also committed to making a difference in their communities to improve the lives of young people, and, in effect, the world. One of my favorite memories was a conversation with the Lead Activists the morning after we discussed what happened during one of the activities the day before. We gave them homework that evening, which was to seriously think about and consider their reasons for participating in Youth4Education. Why were they passionate about education change?
I didn’t want to hear a rehearsed answer that repeated what you could read in an article or hear on the news. I wanted to know their own personal connection to education equity (or inequity). How could they take what they were learning at NYLT and really create a service-learning project that would impact our broken education system? Why did that even matter? And why was it so crucial that they, as young people, be the ones to spearhead the solution?
That morning, the answers that each Lead Activist shared really showed that they were digging deep and thinking critically about what has caused our education to be so unequal and inequitable in our schools across America (and even the world). That kind of inquiry and the action that is possible from it is what makes me so excited about Youth4Education and the work I will be doing to support our Lead Activists throughout the campaign.