Spring 2015

Fellows Tackle Conflict
by Sandra Etuk

For the February Skill Building Workshop, the fellows were given the opportunity to learn more about conflict mediation.

Caitlin Gibb and Kevin Hershey of YO SOS at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center traveled to the YouthBridge-NY office to discuss the steps they are taking to reduce gun violence in New York City. They described their objective as looking to help people utilize tools of de-escalation, showing members of the community how to solve their disputes without guns. The speakers educated us on the reasons why people resort to gun violence, showing us how race, socioeconomic status, and environment all contribute to the decision to carry a weapon. The fellows learned the benefits of discussing their feelings and how an argument can be ended through effective communication.

In order to fully understand their goals, we had to talk about the reasons why interactions do not always end well. Kevin shared a personal experience he had where he felt he had been talked down to, explaining how that made him want to retaliate in anger. This anecdote allowed for us to relate to the speaker, as well as feel more comfortable sharing our own feelings. This was followed by a discussion on triggers, and how to avoid situations where you are likely to enter a conflict. We learned that often, there is not just one trigger. There can be many smaller conflicts that, if not quickly resolved, can turn into a more serious disagreement where one may see violence as a means of resolution. The speakers were very engaging, and the fellows were excited to understand the lesson within the context of their own lives.  

The conflict resolution session was very important to the development of our leadership skills, strengthening our ability to effectively communicate with someone we may not agree with. Knowing how to mediate a situation, as well as understanding the steps one takes when they are angry is essential to navigating social situations we may find ourselves in the near and far future.  

Cultural Eye Committee Puts it All Together
by Grace Gribbon

In the recent months, the Cultural Eye Committee has been hard at work putting together thematic photographs for the fundraiser in June. Between editing photos and creating personal statements, the committee members have created an open and optimistic environment to aid one another in piecing together their finished work.

It has been amazing knowing how far the group has gone, in terms of both creative processes and strengthened social ties. YouthBridge-NY has given the committee members many opportunities to develop useful leadership and communication skills as well as a better understanding of photography, and now they are excited to give back by presenting and auctioning off these photographs at the Night of Celebration Graduation and Fundraiser. All proceeds from the photos will be going towards YouthBridge-NY (the exceptional program that started it all!). It is fair to say everyone is looking forward to the ceremony!

Bridgers Share Big Ideas
By Ayanna Joseph

These past few weeks have been hectic for Bridgers to say the least! Not only have we been burdened with the task of deciding at which institution we will spend our next four Undergraduate years, we have had the pleasure of attending meetings at Red Fuse Communications located in Columbus Circle. The meetings at Red Fuse taught us Bridgers how to advertise effectively by creating a brand, a brand world, and a useful invention that fills a need present in the real world. In the two meetings we had at Red Fuse, the lead coordinator, Lisa Reid, debriefed the Bridgers on the logistics of marketing and advertising through interactive presentations and group work. As groups we analyzed a need presented to us and created a “mock commercial” where we each pitched unique approaches to selling the same product.

At the last meeting us Bridgers were tasked with creating an advertisement on a unique social media platform in an “attempt to sell Colgate Optic White”. The variety of approaches to this project beautifully depicted the individuality that makes the YouthBridge-NY organization as wonderful as it is. Advertisement proposals ranged from Vine ads, commercials, YouTube ads, Snapchat ads and many more. This project was not only a fun activity that gave insight into the marketing world, but also a unique opportunity to share opinions and laughs as we each explored a new area of interest together.  

Leaders to Leaders Youth Summit
by Tina Ting

Being a part of the YouthBridge-NY Leaders to Leaders Youth Summit on March 13 was truly an experience like no other! Throughout the day we were able to assist and take part in a series of presentations by different leaders of representing our various communities. Each facilitator lead a presentation with about 8 or 9 teens and taught then about the particular program that they were there to represent. Each representative had their own stories to tell and through each story and presentation, the teens were able to further their knowledge of the world around them. In addition, each of the workshops that the teens attended helped to advance their leadership and problem solving abilities.

The Summit began with two workshops: a case study and a skill building through which the teens were employed to different representatives to learn about the different organizations that each person represented. In the case study, the representative lead the teens through a workshop in which they worked in groups to not only identify a problem that they felt needed attentions but also propose a solution to this problem. After the case study cases, the teens moved to a skill building workshop. In this workshop, they worked together with their facilitator to work through a community organizing exercise and improve their marketing, time management, and organization skills. The teens would then draw from these skills at the end of the day when they were asked to rejoin their schools/ organizations to discuss a solution to a real problem that affected their schools and neighborhoods. 

This year we were lucky enough to meet Misra Walker, a Brower Award winner and a founder of the House of Spoof, an art gallery in the South Bronx. As our guest speaker, she spoke to us about her journey to the House of Spoof and the events in her life that brought her to where she is now. She showed us all that age is but a number and that it is never too early to begin making a change in our communities.

The day was impactful for each of the teens that attended. I walked into the Summit thinking that I would just be assisting but left with much more. While sitting in on the different workshops I, like the teen members, was able to sharpen my skills and learn new skills that I never knew I would need. The Youth Summit was truly something special as we as a group and a community were able to come together and learn how to make a change.

Fellows Act Out Advocacy
By Nariko Lee

A brisk April Thursday, the fellows of YouthBridge-NY found themselves on the paths of New York City. Climbing up to the Citizen's Committee for Children-NYC floor of 14 Wall Street to learn from Laura Jankstrom and CCC-NYC’s YouthAction leaders, we were met with the faces of the familiar friends and new teen leaders. Once again, if anyone looked around the room they would see a group of teens from all over New York City with different backgrounds and origins, but all having the same goal of unity and increasing diversity and awareness; peace and friendship instead of bullying and hate. There were many interesting conversations over the course of the night. The teen-run event had topics varying from thought on adolescent incarceration to cyberbullying. It was interesting to be able to see conflicting views on topics between friends and the creation of compromise and understanding.

There were several activities that caused the fellows to come together to make solutions to everyday social problems. An example of this was groups coming together to write ways to prevent or promote certain issues. This allowed greater team bonding and a range of solutions to be found from the minds of New York City’s youth. Another great activity that was conducted was groups of fellows were given the challenge of acting out, finding a solution, and bringing awareness to a specific problem. My group had the task of acting out a young teen being bullied for being gay. We set the scene in a school and our solution was to bring the situation to the attention of the principal. Our medium for bringing attention to this situation and many like it was to use social media to promote acceptance and anti-bullying. The point of this activity was to be placed in a realistic situation to learn that it is possible for all of us to make a difference. Age, race, religion, gender; none of these aspects can stop you from creating a different world. If everybody does one good thing, we as people as a whole can end the problems that seem impossible to terminate as an individual. 

In conclusion, the trip down to 14 Wall Street was one well spent for the YouthBridge-NY fellows. We grew closer, learned new things, and saw the world from a different perspective than the one many of us walked through the door with. We can all make a difference on little step at a time. 

Engaging Workplace Diversity: Company Diversity and Influences
by Hemali Dave

For the Engaging Workplace Diversity committee meeting of March, we had Christopher Worthley and his colleague Christin from Allianz as our guest speakers. We talked about diversity in the workplace as well as how people interact with each other in businesses/companies. We discussed about why it is important for companies to have diversity and inclusion in their workplaces.

After this, we had played a game in which three teams had to create a type of business/company. The three different companies were a magazine, an app, and a gym/fitness center. From this game, we learned how companies interact with each other and give suggestions to each other by simulating it ourselves. We also learned how companies could influence each other’s ideas and opinions as well as compete with each other by saving some of their ideas. From this meeting, we were able to learn more about what we can do at our internships this summer to encourage workplace diversity. We thank Christopher Worthley and Christin for their very enticing conversations and are looking forward to meeting them again soon.

On the meeting of April for the Engaging Workplace Diversity committee, we had Marcia Eisenberg and Hannah Weinerman of the JCRC talk to us about “The History of Diversity in the workplace.” Marcia spoke about how through the years she noticed changes in the way that people and society started to feel towards women and other races in the workforce. She shared her ideas on how she felt about the way women were perceived in the workforce when she was starting out as a lawyer. Hannah then spoke to us about the changes in income and how through time, we have had an increase in minimum wage. She brought up labor unions and how they are still used by workers to get what they want. We’d like to thank them for their enchanting stories and experiences.

For the meeting of May, we discussed our placements for the summer and started to discuss what we will be doing for our entrepreneurship projects as well as who we will be working with for the project. We look forward to working at our placements in the summer and are excited to learn much more about workplace diversity through our companies.

Social Media for Social Change: Fellows Learn the SKills
by Sandra Etuk

In March, our monthly skill building workshop was held at the Dosomething.org office, a non-profit dedicated to motivating modern teenagers to actively better the world around them. The program looks to spread awareness for social justice issues and encourage community service through campaigns shared via social media. Fellows were able to talk to Felicia Fitzpatrick, Digital Content Associate at the New York City office. Felicia was more than happy to explain how the organization picks topics they feel are important for youth to know about, such as bullying, environmental awareness, or violence, and incorporates these issues into campaigns teens would be interested in helping. The ultimate goal of the program is to create lasting cultural changes in the way young people see the world and the people around themselves.

Fellows learned how Dosomething.org is able to spread information about their campaigns through various social media platforms. Everyone was given the opportunity to share their favorite social media platform, listing the reasons why they use it. Felicia explained how we could use social media to leave a lasting impact on our friends and family, enlightening them about causes they may have never heard about. This session was helpful as it allowed us to realize that we each have our own spaces to share our own ideas and spread awareness about causes that are important to us. Visiting a workplace like that of the Dosomething.org office is an experience I, and the other fellows, greatly appreciated and hope to do again in the future. 

Shared Resources for a Shared Future Makes the Tough Calls
by Adie Present

Throughout the past three months, the Shared Resources Committee has been taking the finals steps towards our goal of awarding a grant. We began sorting through all of our applications and decided to which organization we would donate our grant. We split this reviewing process into three stages. We analyzed the first few applications as a group in order to learn the most efficient and productive manner to properly look through the 60 plus applications we received. We then split up into smaller groups and began narrowing down the organizations that we deemed most worthy of the grant. Finally, the entire group came back together discuss the top 15 contenders. 

At that point, we put to use the consensus building skills that we had learned about in the first few weeks of the program. We reviewed our criteria and discussed which organization best fit them. 

We were then able to narrow down our choices to two organizations. In the end, we decided to split our money between the two. We awarded $1400 to the Brooklyn Perinatal Network's Preconception Peer Education Program and $600 to Life Light Street Production's Camp Me TV Documentary Film Workshops. We are now looking forward to handing over the checks to these organizations at the YouthBridge-NY Fundraiser and Graduation later this year.