A busy beginning...
We have started off the programming year with a bang! Beginning with our orientation retreat in August we welcomed 30 new eleventh grade fellows into the Fellowship and 31 twelfth grade Bridgers into their second year. Fellows and Bridgers have been busy attending skill-building sessions, committee meetings, hearing from our alumni, and joining together for team building and bonding activities. Read more below and check out some photo highlights of the year so far!
Shared Resources for a Shared Future
By Nicole Nieto
Grant-making: this was all I thought about when I saw the words Shared Resources for a Shared Future. Going into this committee I didn’t really have any expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised after the first committee meeting. Three committee meetings later, the Tuesday of the month on which the SRSF meeting is held has become one of the highlights of my month.
The first committee meeting was a bit nerve-wracking, but throughout the meeting it became more comfortable and less scary. The ice-breaker exercise that we used to learn names really helped us ease into the meeting. We were given a series of questions which related to how we got our names and what we like to be called. It made me realize I do not know that much about my name. The icebreaker was also our first task in active listening. We partnered up when answering the questions and when we regrouped we had to tell everyone our partners answers. After the icebreaker we came up with our goals and expectations for the committee year, and a group agreement. Following that, we discussed the basics of grant-making and answered the question, What would you do with 10 million dollars? It was really difficult to answer. I didn’t really want any money for myself, I wanted it all to go to different charitable organizations. The difficult part was not being able to give money to everyone. We shared what we would do with the money and then listed different causes we cared about. We started to decide what causes we were going to discuss in our next meeting.
Our second committee meeting was really interesting. We started the meeting with a communication icebreaker. Someone from our group read instructions aloud and we had to draw the image he was describing. We folded a paper and made a design with our eyes while someone gave us instructions on what to do. I personally liked the paper folding activity because it turned out more like the description than the drawing exercise. After that we paired up with someone we hadn’t partnered with before. We discussed our feelings on school this year and what we find difficult about this school year, this was another active listening activity. Consensus building is very important in our grant-making process. The committee split into groups of three and determined our grant priorities. I felt it was a very productive meeting.
But overall, my favorite meeting was the third committee meeting. In our third meeting we individually chose which issues we were most passionate about. We broke into small groups which slowly got bigger as we completed the task of eventually deciding on the three causes we would be focusing on while making our grant. This committee is really special and I can't wait to see what the rest of the year will bring!
Bridgers confront Bias
By Brittany Mendoza
Throughout our past meetings I have learned and expanded on many skills. One that stands out the most is looking at things in a new perspective. On October 26 we looked at homophobia and heterosexism.
Whenever we stepped into Project Reach and saw Mr. Don Kao and Ms. Katherine Chambers we never left with the same ideas on the topics presented during the trainings.
During this training in particular we began by discussing our first memories of when homosexuality was not a problem. We also discussed why heterosexism is so prevalent. However, we found ourselves presented with a challenge to not use certain words in our discussions. As always, it was refreshing and surprising to see how easily we say certain things that can alienate someone else without a second or ill intended thought. Furthermore, looking at a ratio of how many heterosexuals are in America vs otherwise (in the closet or not) was different from what I expected based off of what I see in society today.
My favorite part was when we created a safe space circle. By this point we had learned more about each other from memories and discussed why we thought certain stigmas existed. We were able to describe how people are treated differently due to heterosexism but also how it changes depending on gender. It also gave anyone in the room the ability to disclose something about themselves without the usual fear of judgement, sexism, or other confrontations.
Overall, by exploring the root causes of homophobia and heterosexism and their links to sexism and misogyny we were challenged to see things in a new light.
By Khadija (Molly) Bhuiyan YBNY Alumna '13
Below YouthBridge-NY alumna Molly Bhuiyan reflects on her participation in our alumni college round table. The round table is an annual event where our 12th grade bridgers hear from YouthBridge-NY alumni about how YouthBridge-NY has impacted their college experience and their view of the world.
On Tuesday, September 12th I was given the opportunity to come back as an Alumni panelist to an organization that has given me so much. I wasn't born to be a leader, I was trained. I truly believe that. If you met me when I was younger, you would have never guessed. I was shy, lost, and confused. Fellowships like YouthBridge, changed me and turned my life around. I didn't realize back then, but I see it now.
YouthBridge New York taught me that diversity is an asset in every organization. Look at me, I am a Bangladeshi immigrant, first generation college student in business school, studying to become an Actuary. I am a Bangladeshi GIRL in business school. My culture tells me that women are meant to be home cooking, cleaning and taking care of kids. I strive for more. I can and will be a leader in my respective field. YouthBridge gave me the confidence to defy gravity. YouthBridge drilled in me the very leadership skills I use every day now as a campus leader at Baruch College.
I can say hands down, that anything I've accomplished since is because of the skills I gained at YouthBridge. So I wanted to take the time out and say that I was incredibly humbled and honored to have been given the chance to talk to the next generation of bridgers and tell them what I know now.
Thank you Karen Lander, YouthBridge New York and everyone at the Jewish Community Relations Council!
winter retreat at Chelsea piers
On Sunday, December 10, YouthBridge-NY teens enjoyed a day of team-building, sports, and games at Chelsea Piers! We worked on communication, strategy development, and even conquered our fears on the rock-wall! Our teens had an amazing time and we are so grateful to Ian Lane for organizing and John Swist for his incredible facilitation of the day's activities. Check out some photos below!