Lean Into the Unknown

Last week was the 2016 National Youth Leadership Training. It was full of workshops and activities to prepare new Youth Advisory Council members and Youth4Education Lead Activists to go out and make a real difference in their communities. We sat down with each of our campers to talk about what they’ve learned and what they plan to do once they go home. Here’s what we found out:

On what they’ve learned…

Lean into the unknown: “I’ve learned to experience discomfort in tough situations that I wouldn’t normally do,” said Lead Activist Christina Lahai.

Fellow Lead Activist Khadijah Fofana agrees, “I’ve learned how to be more open in a larger group,” she said.

“I’ve also learned once I get out there, it’s easier to stay out,” said Lead Activist Raisa Andrews.

From each other: “I don’t think I’ve ever been able to learn so much from a group of young students, seeing their perspectives and hear their stories, and being able to see their empathy and their compassion for human life and for service,” said YAC me mber Solomon Stovall-Ceja. “It’s really inspiring to me to actually dedicate my life to service-learning and help others out there.”

About themselves: “I’ve learned about my leadership capabilities and how to improve as a leader and how I can design my own service-learning project,” said YAC member Erin Gamba. “It’ll be interesting for me to take this home and try that in my community.”

On a memorable experience…

Visiting Philando Castile’s memorial site: “Being there at the site with the all the raw emotions, it made me question what I can do and made me want to actually do something and make that change possible because it lies in our hands,” said YAC member Meenu Immaneni.

“It also gave us a chance to think of what we’re doing here and how it’s relevant to the future,” added fellow YAC member Ananya Singh.

Privilege Walk: “Up until that point I just knew everybody had reached the same place and that was great, but now I realize that everyone here is on a different spectrum of privilege. There’s many people who had to work so hard to get here and that really inspired me,” said Lead Activist Ana Kodali.

Rejection Therapy: “Failure is just a part of the journey and every time you fail you become a better person,” said YAC member Ricky Yoo. “The more you fail, the better chance you have to succeed.”

On plans for returning home…

Helping students reach their goals: “I want to create a partnership with city schools and create a tutoring and mentorship program for students who want to take higher-level classes,” said Lead Activist Varsha Suresh.

Forming connections: “I have an idea to start a peer connection program at school. It would help low-achieving students and high-achieving students reach out to each other,” said YAC member Satish Uppaluri. “It wouldn’t be a one-way thing. It’d be two-ways.”

Researching community: “As I start college, I’m going to do research about my new community and see how I can help them. I’ve learned to not just assume what people need, ask them,” said YAC member Beza Gebremariam.