1,480. That's the word count of this blog post. It's our longest ever, and it comes courtesy of Chris Lim, a recent graduate of our Youth Now program. We thought about editing the post, making it a little shorter, but then thought better of it. Chris clearly got a lot out of his Youth Now experience, and what he has to say is well worth reading, particularly if you're a young person contemplating taking the program in the future. So yeah, just dive right in. When 1,500 words are written with this much enthusiasm, they go by surprisingly quick.
The Youth Now program is an amazing experience. Throughout this process I have learned valuable lessons that will help me throughout my education and careers. Since this is something that will be posted online on the VRIS blog, I would like to first state how thankful I am to Jocelyn for providing me this opportunity. Jocelyn has provided me my big break to demonstrate how I am capable of contributing to the community. This reflection will provide future Youth Now leaders with knowledge gained from my experience in the 2012-13 Youth Now program.
Through my experience with the Steveston Community Society and the bike park, I gained a better understanding of how the City of Richmond makes decisions. For the bike park project, I consulted with a city planner, coordinated the events that would take place, and participated in the decision making process. In addition to this, I assisted the Steveston Community Society with a wide variety of events, including the Christmas Craft Fair. I also helped out with interviews and contributed to the preface of the board manual.
I believe that I did the best I could within the time constraints of everything else. The program and the Steveston Community Society provided multiple opportunities to immerse myself in higher roles in a non-profit organization. As a result of this program I learned several elements that will help me succeed. First: whatever actions or activities you do in the program, there will always be some form of learning. No matter what steps you take or what activities you do, there will be areas that are easier than others. Even though something may not turn out the way you want, you can still learn from it and adapt for next time.
It is important to acknowledge that everyone is different. Instead of trying to change people, you have to find a balance in which you accept everyone’s personality while still remaining focused on your goals. Remember: the cohesiveness of the group affects your activity or project. Through the Youth Now program, I was delegated with bringing our 2012-13 Youth Now group together for a film project. During this process, after trying to get everyone together formally, I realised that this was not the appropriate process or time to go through such formality. It was a time where the process had to be sped up, so I got a small group of the Youth Now members together and we set a date for planning, and whoever could come, would come. This idea would allow us to keep moving with our project, have a plan in place, and maintain some small flexibility for those that may have beneficial input during the day of filming. Throughout this process, I realised that I couldn’t – and shouldn’t – do it all alone, that I could use other Youth Now leaders’ strengths, networks, and abilities to move the process forward more quickly and efficiently. Therefore, those who were available could help with the process, while those who preferred to be more passive could just come and do what was stated in the plan. Also, those with different strengths, or those who had no opinion on the project, would not feel forced to participate and thus be more willing to contribute when needed.
During this experience, I realised that trying to take on everything was a bit excessive. Instead, I should do things to the best of my abilities, and that in some cases less is a lot more. At the beginning I wanted to work on a project that would be better and bigger than all other Youth Now projects; my goal was to save the Steveston bike park. This attempt failed miserably, but what I learned is that the steps I took could be considered small projects in and of themselves. For me, as a youth trying to get more involved in the community, it was a powerful learning experience, since it led me through the process of what I had to do and when, and the exact steps I would need to take for any future large projects. Along with this, after feeling let down over not completing the project, I began to get more heavily invested in a lot of small voluntary events with the Steveston Community Society, which in turn brought a greater immediate contribution to the community while demonstrating to the Society and the city staff how dedicated I was to assisting in a variety of different sectors.
|Chris Lim perched on what appears to be the top of the world. |
One of the most important elements in this program is the opportunity to network. The program provides multiple opportunities to connect without really having to go out of your comfort zone if you are an introvert. Throughout the program you become connected to your fellow participants, who may or may not have the same goals as you. At the same time they may bring different strengths and knowledge, and expand your peer network. Along with this, through the program I have been connected to my peers’ mentors. Each meeting provides you an opportunity to talk to the other mentors and get to know them, which provides further opportunities for growth either during or after the program. I was also able to expand my network at each event and youth conference. At each of these events we were provided the opportunity to learn from and connect with a variety of presenters and individuals in important roles who are able to answer questions and provide you direction with where you would like to go. Lastly, through the organization I was placed at, the Steveston Community Society, I was able to meet several individuals who are in a position I would like to be in in the near future. They heard my interests and helped provide me opportunities to participate in activities that would facilitate those future opportunities.
One of the most memorable quotes I have learned from Jocelyn is: “What you put in is what you will get out.” The program is a gateway to a variety of different opportunities. There are opportunities to volunteer for the community, gain experience, make new connections. However, if you simply coast through the program, for the simple sake of having the title of being in the program, you will miss so many different chances to participate, learn, and have a meaningful experience. The program goes by very quickly, so make sure to try to maximize your time; otherwise, the opportunities will quickly fly by.
Finally, I believe that one key aspect of this program is that the Youth Now group is brought together; everyone has different views and comes for different reasons. Some may be here for school, some to learn, some to gain a title, or, like myself, be here to do all that and get a chance to do everything that I have stated above. I personally wanted to expand my network as much as I could, bringing into it people I would not normally meet on a daily basis (being an introvert and all), while also being able to finally make that jump to volunteer and participate with a community centre recreation board. These different views are also what make this program so great, because you do not have all those people who just list stuff for their CV, or feel entitled and above everyone. Instead, you have people who really want to make a contribution in a specific area or learn how to work in the non-profit sector. These differences help you understand where people are coming from and, for me, make the program more interesting. Through these differences it provides you greater hope that people’s values and rights will continue to be heard, that there are genuinely good people in the world, there are people like myself who are just looking for that shot to show what they have and what they can do and that you do not have to fit a specific mould to do so. At the same time, I learned that these differences also make it hard for everyone to get together, because program participants need to understand why
they should come together or why
they should assist in something that may not fit their values or purpose of joining the Youth Now program.
I hope that my thoughts, failures, and explanations highlight how amazing the program is, and how it has provided me opportunities to succeed. I hope that future Youth Now Leaders can learn from what I have learned, and use their knowledge in a variety of ways to help them grow not necessarily into the next saviour, but the next good person who now has the tools to help themselves and others.
I would also like to thank Jocelyn for allowing me to contribute in a variety of ways, such as the Youth Now video. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to show what I can do.