Training young people to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing, increasingly diverse New York City

Bridger Updates

By: Erin Krebs
These past couple months of the Bridgers’ lives have been extremely busy. With college applications, scholarship deadlines, and the consistent and progressive movement towards the culmination of our high school careers, we have all been particularly connected as a group. We’ve lamented writing essays together and celebrated acceptances together; this time has only demonstrated how close-knit and supportive we have become as a team. YouthBridge-NY has tried to take the “scary” element out of this seemingly nebulous transition in our lives through informative and gripping sessions that have taught us exactly how we will employ our skills as leaders on a more adult-level. The specificity and relaxed environment have been great for our experience. With help from inspiring advocates at Citizen’s Committee for Children, we expanded our knowledge of advocacy and learned concrete tools about how to conduct research. We also explored how we can contact and collaborate with our state and national government to expand the impact of our actions. In December, we hung out with the enthused forces behind Do Something. Do Something is a non-profit that has been present in many of the Bridgers lives because it utilizes social media to encourage youth to respond to prevalent issues through nationwide campaigns/grants. Do Something reminded us of the tools we readily have access to and our session consisted of some brainstorming between Bridgers and Do Something employees, as well as a discussion about the multitude of paths we can take in life that can still incorporate service and community consciousness. Our last meeting at Allianz was very swanky and was titled the “Roundtable to Jumpstart Your Career.” Bridgers networked by continuing to establish themselves as vibrant, compassionate young people in New York City. This event brought together professionals, including YouthBridge-NY board members from all over NYC whose greatest interests were our futures, our questions, and our abilities. We participated in “speed-mentoring” and rotated from professional to professional to discuss different elements of professional life such as resume building and interview skills. We even discussed how best to adjust to college life through the establishing of mentors and support systems. Many Bridgers benefited from learning about the concept of creating one’s professional “brand.” We are so grateful to all of the NYC professionals who have supported and educated us in the past few months and for all the ways that YouthBridge-NY has enriched our high school lives.

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Pictures from Orientation Retreat

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Youth Summit in the Jewish Week

Read about last year's Youth Summit -
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Youth Bridge - Global Ed Malala IVC 10.9.13

Global Nomads Group – Islamabad & New York

By: Mahin Rahaman
On October 9th, eleven YouthBridge- NY students participated in a special event hosted by Global Nomads Group (GNG), which connected YouthBridge- NY teens with peers in Islamabad, Pakistan specifically from Millennium Roots High School. GNG is an international NGO whose mission is to foster dialogue and understanding among the world's youth. When I first heard about this event, I was immediately thrilled. I've heard about Malala Yousefzai in the news and in school and I was absolutely intrigued with her story. When YouthBridge-NY presented this opportunity, I immediately said yes and had the privilege of attending a video conference hosted by GNG with students in Islamabad to talk about Malala and what she represents. While waiting for GNG to set up the conference equipment, my fellow YouthBridge-NY members and I discussed what we expected the conference to be like. I remember how much we prejudged these students-- wondering whether or not they'll be able to speak proper English, whether or not their schools looked like schools in the US, even whether or not they had a sense of humor. As you can clearly tell, we came in feeling as if we and the students from Islamabad lived in two completely different worlds. We came in thinking about all the things that could make us different and how the students in Islamabad couldn't possibly share many common characteristics with us.

We were wrong.

As soon as the conference started, everyone shared and indulged in an amazingly friendly atmosphere. Originally both sides had prepared questions to ask each other but instead, we found ourselves roaming from topic to topic on our own because we were all so genuinely interested about each other. What we ended up finding out was not all the things that made us different, but rather all the things that made us alike. The students from Millennium Roots High School shared their views on education and what a great impact Malala Yousefzai made in their country. Needless to say, their view on education was extremely similar to ours. We both believed that education is an extremely important aspect to every person and should be granted equally to all people regardless of their gender or status. Malala Yousefzai's brave actions made not only us, but the entire world realize the power of having a voice and the true value of education to those that can't access it as easily as most of us here in the US can. Contrary to the notions we originally came into the conference with, the YouthBridgers and the students from Millennium Roots High School laughed together, shared stories, discussed and agreed on important aspects regarding education, as well as explored all the things that made us alike. This experience was truly eye opening and made me realize how incredibly alike we were. We ultimately went from having this perception about two different worlds into one international community where we can all relate and help each other rise to their very best. After this experience, I tried bringing international video conferencing to my school Bronx Science because I realized the importance of conversing with students from other countries. It immediately deteriorates any false presumptions that the media or society might give us and brings us closer to coalescing into a tight-knit global community. I genuinely thank Global Nomads Group and YouthBridge-NY for giving me this amazing opportunity and making me realize the importance of reaching out to kids globally.

Volunteer Outings

By: Jesse Aguilar
Many of our members volunteer to help those less fortunate, believing that any amount of time we can give is enough to make a significant difference in someone else's life. In November, I participated in a volunteer service for the group "Habitat for Humanity". True to its name, Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit group that seeks to build and repair environments all over the city for those in need. On that day, the group planned to renovate and revitalize a community center for seniors. Besides me, several other members from YouthBridge-NY showed up to contribute, all wearing thick jackets and gloves to brave the unyielding cold. After briefly introducing ourselves to the other volunteers and Habitat for Humanity members, we set off to work in our designated areas, each person doing a small part of the big project. I, along with three other volunteers, was assigned to paint the walls for the goal of illuminating the atmosphere. We were to cover every inch of the hallway walls, which was approximately 400 square feet. It was long and hard work, not at all as easy as I had first suspected. Although I was weary and aching from using muscles I had never used before, I felt a sense of achievement whenever I looked over the work I had done. For once, I was doing something physical, and I was doing it for someone else. I could imagine the happy faces of the elderly who would return to that embellished hallway, which encouraged me to continue on. After several hours, the painstaking job was complete. My friends and I evaluated our hard work, our sweaty faces lit up with smiles.
Two weeks later, another opportunity to give my all for the community arrived. It was an opportunity known as 92Y Teensgiving, an annual event in which over 700 high school teenagers and 100 adult volunteers participate in community service projects all over NYC. Our team's assigned job was to completely renovate a park, and to replace the gravel and wood there. It was a lot harder than it sounded, as the raging winds and sub-zero temperature buffeted our shaking bodies while we struggled to move wood without sliding down the hill. But the hardship made me realize many things, how important our actions were for the good of the people who would soon use the park. There was no doubt that I would be sore later on and be forced to throw out my wood-covered t-shirt, but the satisfaction I felt was worth it. I was doing something good for others, and I wasn't alone. I had friends, comrades in arms, who had just as much conviction as I did. I left that park with sore arms and with wood chips in my shoes, but I also knew that I had friends by my side who were also volunteering their time for someone else's good. It was a moment I would never forget, that achievement and pride I felt.

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