national youth leadership council

What A Week Can Teach

From Giovanna Clemens, Youth4Education Lead Activist.

NYLT was an eye-opening experience for me. Throughout the week I was exposed to my hidden flaws; flaws that revealed themselves to be fear of rejection, accepting things as they are without question, ignoring issues, and not stepping out of my comfort zone. As the week came to an end my flaws diminished.

Immediately on the first day the thought of being rejected floated through my head. I soon came to realize that my fellow Youth4Education Lead Activists and NYLT Group Leaders were not here to judge me, but rather to help me grow. I was astonished that people who never knew me a day in their lives treated me with such high regard. I will never forget the moment I thought to myself rejection is a part of living and sometimes I have to go through it; when I am finally accepted, my greater purpose will unveil itself. When I sat there and heard everyone share their stories and witnessed people getting along I realized rejection was impossible. I am truly thankful for meeting such an amazing group of people because without them I wouldn’t be able to “speak my truth” – especially toward the people I fear talking to.

A couple of days into camp we were all put into groups and each group faced obstacles, some more than others. My group quickly realized it was a simulation with groups split into artificial socioeconomic classes. We knew without a doubt we were the upper class and the entire simulation was surrounded by privilege. My group helped with carrying water jugs and provided water to the other groups. That was the only time I personally decided to help. I didn’t realize how unwilling I was to help. I knew I should help when others were around, but later I passed another group not even pausing to assist. I felt ashamed and began to look within myself. I was so used to being independent that when someone offered me things I accepted it and didn’t change anything. Simulation or not, I knew then and now that I need to question things and step out of the boundaries set by others. A simple “no” doesn’t satisfy me anymore. I need more. I expect more from others and myself.

Both of these experiences forced me to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It was a struggle but I tackled it because I knew I needed to. I wouldn’t have grown as a person if I wasn’t given this opportunity. I can’t thank everyone of my fellow Lead Activists enough for being genuine with me and allowing me to grow. I know you will all do outstanding and succeed beyond expectations.