DCs of the Month

May 2, 2013

Looking back at April, a big month for us at GC as classes go deep into taking action, we’d like to recognize the following Democracy Coaches for their empowering work and dedication.

NEW YORK DC OF THE MONTH: RINA KATTAN, STUDENT AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

 

What brought you to GC?

After Rocky Solomon, a former Democracy Coach, told me about her experience at Generation Citizen I knew that I had to get involved. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to do what I enjoy most- interact with children. I never taught, so I cherished the opportunity for a new challenge.

What has been your favorite GC moment this semester?

It was 8 am and as usual, I prayed that the students would be awake enough to participate in the classroom discussion. I handed out lyrics to Lupe Fiasco’s song “Little Weapons,” and watched their faces as they read the lyrics. They were shocked that one of their favorite music artists wrote a song about youth gun violence. One of the students raised their hand, “Ms. K, this song is cool – I like it.” I finally felt that I wasn’t boring them – it was an accomplishment. The students had so much to say about the song that the conversation lasted the whole period.

How does your GC experience shape or contribute to your future academic or professional plans?

When I first started Generation Citizen I knew that I would enjoy teaching, but I never thought of pursuing a career in teaching. I love the thrill of being in a classroom and the challenge of trying to excite and empower the students. This opportunity helped me realize the impact a Democracy Coach could have and presented teaching as a potential long-term career.

How has your GC experience impacted your views on the importance of youth civic engagement?

From the start of my experience in the classroom I learned that the students are passionate about certain community issues. They were excited to share their opinions challenging conventional practices. I realized that they were never given the opportunity to engage in a conversation with their peers about these issues, nor bring about substantive change to their community. It is important for our youth to know they can acquire the skills to advocate for their community. Through classroom discussion, the students build the confidence to express their opinions so they can ultimately become community advocates.

PROVIDENCE DC OF THE MONTH: FATOUMATA DIAKITE, STUDENT AT BRYANT UNIVERSITY

What brought you to GC?

This semester I took a sociology course. One of the requirements was to find a community service you really want to do, and at the end of the semester present it to the entire class. Some of my classmates worked at soup kitchens, WaterFire Providence and others at hospitals. I decided to work in an educational environment because of my personal values and respect for the field. I had exposure to a few tutoring programs but seeing what GC did with helping students not only be active citizens but also build a platform for our future leaders attracted me to become part of this team. I was intrigued to be a part a movement that focused and understood the importance of youth empowerment.

What has been your favorite GC moment this semester?

My experience at GC was amazing. My favorite GC moment was getting familiar with my students. I had never tutored or mentored anyone else before so starting off, and I was really scared of taking the chance on my own. One girl with 25 high school students! The thought was terrifying but once I started, everything else became easy. I was not their teacher but rather a friend and a mentor and that really allowed them to freely express themselves.

How does your GC experience shape or contribute to your future academic or professional plans?

As a future social entrepreneur and most importantly a humanitarian, I believe that education is the key to a better world. It is important that one understands that before being a citizen of a nation we are citizens of the world. Being a Democracy Coach has shown me how to care for the youth. I believe that it is the greatest investment into more functional world. They are the ones to build the future so it is important to prepare them to become skillful citizens now.

How has your GC experience impacted your views on the importance of youth civic engagement?

When I first started, many of my students did not believe that they had the power to change anything. As the trimester went on, they will constantly ask me “are we really doing this?” One thing I have understood is that many do not participate in civic engagement in adulthood because at a young age they were not told the power they had to have a great impact in their schools, communities or the entire country. Being a part of GC and the process of strategically planning  to change an issue has allowed me to understand that anyone can make a change; age or socioeconomic standards are non-factors.

BOSTON DC OF THE MONTH: JUNHAO YU, STUDENT AT UMASS BOSTON

What brought you to GC?

I was brought to GC by the organization’s commitment to empower innercity youth through participatory politics, which is something that I’ve always believed in.

What has been your favorite GC moment this semester?

My favorite moment this semester has been the first day of school, because on that day I got to meet the kids that I’ll be working with and saw how excited they were because of my enthusiasm.

How does your GC experience shape or contribute to your future academic or professional plans?

My GC experience helped confirm my belief in myself as an effective advocate for grass root movements. I was able to revaluate the strengths and weaknesses of my interpersonal skills during the semester by working with different types of people, and I gained a better understanding of public policy through hands-on experience with GC.

How has your GC experience impacted your views on the importance of youth civic engagement?

My GC experience made me realize that there are many youngsters out there looking for guidance on how to become engaged citizens, so through the hopefulness and idealism that each DC’s posses these youngster are beginning to learn that they can be powerful beyond measure through civil advocacy.

 

 

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