Bridgers Network with the Pros
by Sarah Rebarber
To kick off the new year, for the month of January the Bridgers had the opportunity to attend a Roundtable event. At this event, the Bridgers walked in dressed in their best business professional attire, with resumes in hand, for the speed mentoring program. Throughout the night, pairs of Bridgers would meet with a total of four different professionals, from four different backgrounds, to discuss networking etiquette and the professional world as a whole.
The main areas of focus were resume building, interview prep, personal branding, and networking. Having been in the business world, the mentors were able to help us with identifying our strengths and using them to “make a sale” to future employers or recruiters. Additionally, they stressed the importance of volunteering and giving back because the greatest opportunities could be somewhere where we would least expect it.
While the ice breaker questions consisted of questions concerning these four topics, we were encouraged to discuss any other aspects of the professional world we were curious about. For example, in one of my sessions my fellow Bridger, my mentor, and I discussed what and what not to wear when presenting yourself as a professional. Personally, I often struggle with trying to find an outfit that looks professional and fashionable at the same time. Her guidance and personal examples with this common struggle reminded me of the importance of striking a balance between the two and offered some advice on how she found that balance.
After the sessions, we had the opportunity to mingle with professionals we might not have met during the speed mentoring. By the end of the night we chatted, learned, and connected with many intellectual and admirable people.
Calling all Alumni!
A message from the YBNY Alumni Committee
Did you know that YouthBridge-NY has been operating for 19 years!? There have been 12 graduating classes since then. The YBNY Alumni Committee is in search of you! Alumni have come together to create initiatives and events to connect, network, grow, and give back! Be on the lookout for upcoming news and in the meantime let us know what you are up to at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fellows Go Overboard
by Zarif Mahmud
For the January Skill-Building Session, the Fellows met at Project Reach. Our speaker was Don Kao, a leader at Project Reach. The flavor of the day was tolerance. The first thing we did was introduce ourselves like usual, but with a twist. Everyone gathered in a circle, and while we said our name, school, and preferred pronoun, we tied part of a ball of yarn to our finger, and tossed it to someone else. This created a chain of string that overlapped itself, so when we finished, there was a crazy zigzagged web connecting all of us, that we could spin around and raise up and down. Afterwards we talked about some charged words like "diversity", which Don told us doesn't need to be defined and, "Just is."
After discussion, we moved on to the main activity, a thought experiment. We were split into groups of 4-5 and then told the story of a group of people trapped during a flood on the top floor of a building, with only a tiny boat to save them. Out of the fourteen people, only ten could fit inside at a time, and it was our job to figure out who to save. Before we started, we were assured that the riddle had a simple solution, but only the best listener would be able to find it. We were then given a huge piece of paper with a boat drawn on, along with fourteen index cards, which were supposed to represent the people. Each had descriptions written on them, like "Pregnant black woman", "Person with AIDS who's still having sex" or "Feminist". Everyone had trouble figuring out who to kick off the boat, because none of the reasons seemed good enough to definitively single a person out.
After ten minutes, each group taped their paper to a wall, and we compared our choices. Although our boats were mostly different, whether by chance or by unconscious discrimination, the "HIV+ Person who's still having sex" was left behind by all the boats. While some people justified this by saying that knowingly spreading diseases was wrong, Don reminded us that people with HIV could still use protection to prevent transmission. We discussed the rest of our choices and inherent biases, after which, the solution was revealed. We were told not to reveal it, in case of other people visiting, but rest assured, the solution was both outside the box and deceptively simple. Lastly, we discussed other examples of bias and discrimination, both in our everyday lives and in the world, touching on contentious issues like government welfare.
This meeting really opened my eyes to how my upbringing and biases color my perceptions of things, and it taught me to look at issues with different perspectives. Because so much of our lives are made up of snap-judgments and reactions, it's especially important to see how our personal views could cloud reality.
YouthBridge-NY On Ice
The Fellows and Bridgers got together this winter to go skating at Bryant Park. It was a fun day and everyone had a great time!
Bridgers Get Empathetic
By Grace Gribbon
Our December session focused on empathy vs. sympathy and how we often underestimate our own abilities. We were visited by Gloria and Felix, two trainers from United Cerebral Palsy, and their professional staffer Peter. Gloria and Felix are both affected by cerebral palsy and so simple things like traveling around the city can become extremely difficult. Imagine when you are on your way to work or school, you may often become frustrated by a delayed train or bus. For people like Gloria and Felix, who spend their lives in wheelchairs, they are lucky to board Access-A-Ride buses that don't have delays lasting for an hour or two.
Despite these challenges, Gloria and Felix told us that they don't want our sympathy. This is because sympathy can come off in a patronizing way, making them feel below you when you say things like "I am so sorry". Instead, they believe you should feel empathy while never underestimating their abilities. This is because when you come from a place of understanding and acceptance, you allow for people like Gloria and Felix to be more comfortable and encouraged to live fulfilling lives, regardless of their disability. Today, they both are employed and get to experience exciting things through the foundation, including scuba-diving! Gloria, Felix and Peter successfully informed YouthBridge about the importance of empathy and communication when attempting to make a connection with someone and to never underestimate one's abilities, including your own!
Recruiting Next Year's Fellows
Do you know a high school sophomore who would be a good fit for YouthBridge-NY? Applications are open for our next class of Fellows! Make sure to help spread the word!
Bridging the Gap Grant 2016
The Shared Resources for a Shared Future Committee is getting ready to award grants up to $2000! Check out our Request for Proposals!