NEYON Student Rights Learning Community Kick-Off
Insight and Takeaways from the Youth - Ahria
Boston Student Advisory Council
As a youth activists within our communities, we tend to develop our own goals as an organization and experience both the highs and the lows of progress. At times, we feel as if we are fighting against the obstacles on our own, and that we don’t have others to rely on that have the same goals in mind. However, NEYON’s ultimate objective was to not only allow youth leaders to learn from one another, but to also allow us to understand that we are not alone in this journey; and they met that goal exceptionally through this Student Rights themed event.
All organizations began with a human bingo sheet that involved conversations made with leaders they might not have interacted with in the past, me included. Following this icebreaker, we began an open circle activity with our names and thinking of an object to bring to a hypothetical picnic, and having to repeat what was said by the people before you. Prior to the event, I only knew the name of the organizations who would be in attendance. However, with this activity, I was able to see the people behind each organization, develop personal relationships with them, and observe the humanity and leadership qualities for myself. From aesthetics to marshmallows being brought to the picnic, this activity allowed for everyone’s creative side to be exposed, and create a close knit community early on.
About a half an hour later, we all transitioned into group conversations about our specific successes, obstacles, and goals of our organizations, and verbalized the similarities within our answers, as well as providing advice and support for struggles that others had already conquered or that need help with overcoming in order to learn from one another. We wrote down our experiences as an organizations and placed it on a road map to success as youth leaders, which symbolizes the journey of activism being a rollercoaster, not a line going straight up. This then led to more in depth conversations in larger group asking for supports on different impediments they have as an organization. One idea that stuck out for me was made by Portland Empowered, which was their goal to install their student rights app onto chromebooks. Since Youth on Board has been trying to develop creative promotion strategies, it was beneficial to hear and learn from other organizations and add them to our future endeavors as well. When Youth on Board presented our journey as a youth program in Boston, MA, we elaborated on the successes throughout our timeline, but were not afraid to vocalize the struggles along the way. It was meant to both spread the wisdom we earned considering we are co leaders within our learning communities, and make our current obstacles clear so that we can initiate critical conversations about similar and contrasting situations.
To conclude, the event was insightful for the youth in the room because we were all able to take home some advice that can help us with some avenues to take to improve ourselves as youth activists and leaders. Although not all problems were solved, we all had the ability to create connections with others that have similar goals in mind. I was able to walk away feeling more secure that BSAC wasn’t the only organizations fighting against the oppressions that attempt to bring us down; and that working together is much better than fighting the same battle alone.