In March 2014, former GC student and current Democracy Coach at UMASS Boston, Michelle Georges, traveled with GC Executive Director Scott Warren to Washington D.C., where they co-presented on a panel on socio-emotional learning and policy development, organized by New Profit, Inc. Michelle reflects on her journey with GC and experience on the panel below.
My name is Michelle Georges and I am a Generation Citizen Democracy Coach. I am a student at UMASS Boston and this is my second semester as a DC but my third semester with GC – I actually participated as a high school student. As a very active student, I see how important organizations like GC are to the overall attitude of youth in this country. I know, not only by simply looking around me, but also through personal experience, that students all over the United States need a chance to stand up and make a difference. Even though it takes a bit of pushing sometimes, I constantly see that light going off in one of my students’ eyes when they feel accomplished or heard. As every teacher can attest, you will never have a perfect class where every lesson goes flawlessly. It can definitely be a struggle to engage the students and get them to realize that what GC is teaching matters, yet I wait for the moment when I am able to spark interest and get my students excited about the lesson. Students, especially in high school, are generally not given enough credit when it comes to the intellect and potential they can bring to the table. We see many problems that originate and circulate around the youth, yet we, as a society, fail to ask the opinions of those involved. What is usually disguised or stigmatized as whining or immaturity is sometimes a voice that is unable to explain what it needs.
When I was first asked to fly to Washington DC to speak about my experiences with GC, I was terrified! I had no idea what I was going to say or how to format the speech. The moment the convention started though, I was instantly at ease. I saw that, although everyone there was professional and experienced, I never for a second felt uncomfortable. I quickly learned that I was in a room with organizations like New Profit, Inc., Peace First and others. They had come together for their annual conference to discuss ways that each group can further the goal of their organization, either individually or by collaborating. I was there to talk about GC, in line with the theme of the convention – policy change. I spoke about my experiences both in and out of GC and my personal interest in policy development to improve society. It was such an honor that I was chosen to speak and I cannot how much I enjoyed my time there. I got the opportunity to meet some amazing people who brought their incredible stories to the convention.
The panel was made up of myself, GC Executive Director Scott Warren, August Hunt, and Eye to Eye Executive Director David Flink. August and I, two freshman in college, were given the spotlight and asked about the things we’ve experienced with GC and Eye to Eye, respectively. It was truly inspirational to hear from August and to see the reactions that we both received from the audience. It is clear to me that all the groups in attendance at the convention truly cared about the mission. Seeing how many other organizations out there had goals similar to GC was very motivating. It convinced me that we will get there, however slowly change may come. I hope to return to the convention next year, even as an audience member, so I can see the progress that these groups will surely have made in one year’s time.
– Michelle Georges, Former GC Student and Current Democracy Coach
Generation Citizen is a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 tax exempt organization which does not endorse candidates; our goal is to engage our staff, participants, and stakeholders in political and civic action on issues that matter to them personally and in their communities. The opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the writer alone and do not reflect the opinions of Generation Citizen.