Winter 2015

Bridgers jumpstart their careers with the pros
by Raj Vaidya

These past few months have been some of the most exciting for Bridgers as they gradually prepare themselves for the next phase in their lives – college. In order to aid in the process Bridgers met at the Allianz offices for roundtable meetings with the Pros, all of which were meant to give Bridgers confidence in pursuing their future careers.

The roundtable meetings with professionals, hosted by Allianz, served a similar purpose – one that was aimed at jumpstarting Bridger’s future collegiate careers. YouthBridge-NY Board Members, Alumni, and other selected professionals and partners were invited to engage in a one-on-two discussion with Bridgers in which students described their experiences and interests in exchange for expert insight and tips as to how they should go about making a successful career.

Eight tables were set up, with one professional situated at each, and Bridgers rotated to the following tables after the set time interval was completed. Experts were tasked with training Bridgers on how to record their strengths and achievements through their resumes, how to set a lasting impression on their interviewers, and how lay the ground work for their success through social media and post-high school networks.

These opportunities presented themselves as not only engaging networking experiences but also a way for Bridgers to orient themselves for their upcoming college careers. Both the Bridgers and the facilitators alike thoroughly enjoyed these interactive sessions, and all of us learned quite a bit in the end.

Shared Resources for a Shared Future Committee Gets The Word Out
by Darren Lin

Throughout the past few months the Shared Resources Committee has been making progress. Our goal is to find an organization(s) that we will give a grant of up to $2000 to. This organization must meet all the criteria that we decide and we will interview them after they apply.

The causes that we want our grant to work towards are Women’s issues, Sexual Health, and After-school programs. We discussed and agreed on these through our meetings. The last two meetings in January and December we have been working on designing our Request for Proposal flyer, our outreach plan and our application.

Now we are sending out our RFP to different nonprofit organizations, hoping they will help distribute it and allow us to get more applications. We hope to receive many applications that we can choose from and donate to.

Fellows Build Their Networks
by Keyara Drew

For our January skill building session we were taught about networking. Luanna Azulay, Operations Assistant at GLG led the workshop. From what I learned, networking is basically the art of social skills. You are linking with another individual in hopes that you may benefit from each other. Being a benefactor entails helping out the person you networked with by promoting their business or product and vice versa. 

During the session I found out that I have actually networked many times. For example, there was a time when I visited St.Johns University and one of the sorority members gave me her card, so that If I was ever interested in going to that college I can link up with her so she can show me around. Anyone and everyone can network. It just starts with a conversation. 

Diversity and Interpretation: The Next Steps
by Alexus Knight

Things went back into swing at YouthBridge-NY after a long needed and deserved Christmas break. Members of the Cultural Eye committee went back to work deciding on what next steps should be taken for the upcoming fundraiser in June. In the latest Cultural Eye meetings, we narrowed our subject for our photos and also learned about photo editing and techniques that will enhance our photos.

The Cultural Eye committee has one of the biggest tasks this new year to complete - deciding on a theme for this year’s photo exhibit at the June fundraiser. With various opinions and possible subjects, it was difficult to decide on what to have the photo subjects be. Yet finally, the Cultural Eye committee were able to collectively agree to the theme of Diversity, Culture and Interpretation. This theme really gives an advantage to the Cultural Eye committee group because living in New York City provides the setting where there is diversity at every corner in various neighborhoods. It also provides the committee their own interpretation of what diversity could mean whether it is people, objects, hair color or more. After deciding on our theme, we began to focus more on photo taking and the technicalities behind it.

In the next meeting, we learned about photo programs that can help us in enhancing our photos. The two programs that we were introduced to during the meeting were Photoshop and GIMP, which are widely used by professional photographers. Most photographers use Photoshop because of many premium features that it has to enhance the user’s photos but the Cultural Eye committee members used GIMP instead because it is free to use but also has similar features to Photoshop. GIMP was not necessarily easy to learn at first because it requires numerous steps to edit one’s photos. Yet it helps us to understand the editing program better and helps us to enhance our photos better. Each member got a chance to understand the GIMP program yet it was easier for some than others. Despite some difficulties, the Cultural Eye committee has basic understanding of the program and certain techniques to create more heartfelt photographs. With the fundraiser only a few months away, the Cultural Eye meeting has a lot of busy work to do and pictures to take.

The Boat Exercise
by Kiara Lee

In the past couple of months the Bridgers experienced workshops that helped prepare them for their future endeavors, socially and collectively, and the workshop with Don Kao from Project Reach made the Bridgers realize just how easy it is for the world to stereotype someone without even meaning to and how we can stereotype sometimes as well.

Don Kao commenced the workshop with the boat exercise where the Bridgers were given small papers that had a person’s individual situation written on them. The Bridgers were told that there was a vast and menacing flood and that there was only one boat fit to carry ten people. The candidates varied from a black pregnant woman, a 15 year old convicted twice of robbery, a middle aged man with a decent amount of money in his account, a woman with a child, a man with HIV that is still having sexual encounters,a welfare recipient for 15 years, an illegal immigrant, and so many more. The task for the Bridgers was to choose who should be on the boat and taken to safety based on their circumstances. In the midst of making these decisions the Bridgers discussed discrimination, personal experiences, and stereotypes but most importantly how easy it is for us to stereotype when intending not to.

This workshop reminded the Bridgers of how essential it is to let go of labels and classifications, especially when all of our information for stereotypes comes from assumptions. We have no idea what drove a 15 year old to rob, we have no grounds to classify an illegal immigrant as ineligible, or to give a middle aged man with a decent amount of a money in his bank account a spot on the boat over a man with HIV. The Bridgers are now inclined to ask about one's circumstances before judging or stereotyping them.

Engaging Workplace Diversity Committee Makes its Resumes
by Tess Korn

The Engaging Workplace Diversity committee met for the first time in January. This committee is focused on preparing to be professionals in diverse work environments. During the first meeting we discussed how to put together a good resume. We're working on our resumes for our internships we will be placed in over the summer. 

We looked at many different examples of resumes. Formatting and what to include was also discussed. By the next meeting we will have the first drafts of our resumes completed. 

We also started to think about what we are interested in and what we are good at in order to be placed for our internship. Karen let us know what to expect with being part of Engaging Workplace Diversity.  

YouthBridge-NY at Dave and Busters

On January 11, Fellows and Bridgers had a great time playing games, winning tickets, and spending time with each other at Dave and Busters!

Bridgers Learn to Take Action
by Raj Vaidya

Facilitated by YouthAction Program Coordinator Laura Jankstrom and their very own YouthAction leaders, the advocacy program at Citizens Committee for Children was aimed at educating Bridgers about the importance of advocacy and the best means to get their point across.

Some specifics that were taught include the idea that advocacy without merit (in other words, advocacy that is not fact-based) is not very effective, so one must always take the time to find research to support their assertions prior to advocating it. Bridgers also learned how to apply these skillsets towards practical applications such as approaching elected officials and attending public hearings.

In order to demonstrate their understanding of advocacy, Bridgers were also given a chance to engage in a role-playing activity in which some students played the role of an official while others became advocates for a set cause. This educational, yet amusingly comical task, allowed Bridgers to further test their newfound advocating abilities and made it a great day for them all.