March DCs of the Month

March 25, 2013

Time to introduce our March Democracy Coaches of the Month!

BOSTON DC OF THE MONTH: PETER PETRIN, STUDENT AT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY

What brought you to GC?

I originally found the Generation Citizen model appealing based on my interests in politics and service. I also found myself seeking opportunities to better understand the issues and challenges facing a diverse Boston community as a student of policy. That said, my evolving understanding of both the mission of Generation Citizen and the urgency of a fully engaged democracy kept me coming back as a Democracy Coach for three years now. Generation Citizen provides youth with the opportunity to engage as citizens in issues that matter to them, providing attention and affecting change on issues often neglected by the mainstream political process. As Democracy Coaches, this action does not just improve the communities of the youth that we serve; it helps our community too. That mutual benefit and empowerment is what keeps me coming back.

What has been your favorite GC moment this semester?

As impactful as the work we are doing in the classrooms may be, one of my favorite moments of this semester was getting to know all of the Democracy Coaches of Greater Boston at our spring training. One of the most reassuring aspects of serving as a Democracy Coach is knowing that you are surrounded by dozens of college students through the city of Boston experiencing the same challenges and teaching the same skills, collectively committed to better engaging the next generation. Seeing the spectrum of college volunteers from first-time Democracy Coaches to seasoned veterans really demonstrated the diversity of students that Generation Citizen attracts and afforded us the excellent opportunity to share our experiences and skills with one another so as to best serve our students.

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

Generation Citizen has played a key role in clarifying my future academic and professional goals. During my undergraduate years, sharing Generation Citizen’s message and skills surrounding effective advocacy helped me become a stronger advocate for my campus community, where I currently serve as the Student Body President. Generation Citizen also helped me better understand the inequities that keep the students in our education system from reaching their full potential, contributing to my motivation to apply and now commitment to join the Mississippi Delta Teach for America Corps this fall. I cannot yet anticipate what my future academic plans will be, but I know that my focus will be to better understand the policies and practices that will help the next generation advance our society, and Generation Citizen has taught me that youth civic engagement will play an integral role in those policies and practices.

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

I always valued the importance of civic engagement even before serving with Generation Citizen, but the opportunity to facilitate that engagement connected me with those that actually making the impact. I see college students both within Generation Citizen and beyond working to improve the Greater Boston community, but the youth we work with will be the ones most able to influence community development in the long run. As such, it is imperative that students learn the skills and develop the sense of commitment and motivation to invest in community improvements and do not shy away from speaking up about the issues important to them.

 

NEW YORK DC OF THE MONTH: LYDIA MEEHAN, STUDENT AT HUNTER COLLEGE

What has been your favorite GC moment this semester?

I had a fantastic conversation with a student about Stop & Frisk, its impact on him, and his attitude toward civic engagement and its effectiveness. I learned so much from the conversation, and could feel the way my passion was interacting with and changing his thought process.

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

My GC experience has made me more determined to work with youth. I was already planning on devoting my life to activism, but now I want to work to ensure youth are involved as well. Politics are extremely important to me, so even if my job is unrelated, I still plan on contributing to the political process in some way. I would love to work with human rights organizations fighting to protect minorities within the U.S. As far as my experience as a college student, I really want to learn about as much as I can, meet a wide variety of people, and contribute to the world while in college. This group [GC] seems like a great way to accomplish these goals.

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

It’s made me see how important it is to get youth empowered. Seeing the total lack of confidence that they can create change has made me more determined to help students realize their potential.

 

PROVIDENCE DC OF THE MONTH: SAMANTHA MILLER, STUDENT AT BROWN UNIVERSITY

What brought you to GC?

I first heard about Generation Citizen through a friend, Liz Mills, who is currently the Advocacy Director on the Brown GC Leadership Board. All last spring, I saw her navigate the challenges and, ultimately, reap the incredible rewards of working with middle schoolers at Gilbert Stuart Middle School. I actually watched Liz teach a class one day last year and was blown away by her poise in front of the classroom, as well as the response she elicited from her students.

I decided to participate in Generation Citizen this semester at Liz’s urging, but was absolutely petrified. I doubted whether I possessed the necessary skills to get a group of kids excited about civic responsibility. Because Generation Citizen’s mission of teaching kids to advocate for themselves really resonated with me, I decided to become a Democracy Coach, but did not do so lightly–if I was going to do this, I told myself, I really needed to commit.

Thus far, my experience at Nathan Bishop Middle School has profoundly exceeded my expectations. The students are bright, motivated, and engaged. They are all really excited about our project for Civics Day and my biggest task on a day-to-day basis is steering their boundless ideas into an actionable trajectory. They truly never cease to amaze me!

What has been your favorite GC moment?

Because my class is so wonderful, I really cannot pinpoint my favorite moment of Generation Citizen. One that particularly stands out, though, was when one of my quietest students, about halfway through the class, offered a very thoughtful response to a question I had just posed to the group. His participation in the discussion, which was clearly a deviation from his shy persona, reminded me of how empowering advocacy can be.

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

My GC experience will undoubtedly shape my future plans. I have found that connecting with people and finding common ground with those who have different perspectives than my own can lead to the most rewarding of relationships. Generation Citizen empowers the youth voice, one that is chronically overlooked. And if my kids have taught me anything in the short time we have spent together, it is that their voices are smart, innovative, and far too valuable to ignore.

 

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