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01 August 2017
2017 Summer Session with Latin American Youth Center Highlights Important Leadership Skills
Global Classrooms DC had the opportunity to work with the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), a local organization that serves over 4,000 youth and families in DC and Maryland’s Prince George’s Counties at four sites and dozens of service points through partner schools and organizations.

Throughout July, GCDC worked with the Center’s Latino Youth Leadership Council, a summer program focused on learning leadership skills that the high school participants can take with them, whether in university or life beyond school.

Over the course of three sessions in as many weeks, GCDC focused on learning about the Sustainable Development Goals and the impact of the United Nations, public speaking skills, and writing effective policy recommendations.

For the first lesson, the high schoolers showed an interest in the United Nations and how the international organization functions. One of the girls mentioned that she had always pictured the UN as a big building with only very important people sitting around a table making decisions. Instead, they learned about examples of how kids their age, inspired by the SDGs, were making changes in their communities around the world, not just in Latin America. With this context, the participants had an in-depth and thought-provoking conversation about peace and violence, and how to accomplish Goal #16 on Peace and Justice.

The second session gave the kids an opportunity to practice good public speaking skills. After warming up by pretending to sell random objects around the room, the high schoolers broke down what made effective speeches and could keep their audience engaged. They even used these skills by reading a speech from Malala Yousafzai in small group work. While some students had difficulty in grasping concepts and with the pronunciation of certain words in English, the youth became more confident practicing their English and actually applying the skills the entire group had been talking about.

The favorite part of the lesson was when students were read a statement, decided whether to agree, disagree or remain neutral about it, and debate their position with everyone else. The high schoolers were excellent at creating arguments and trying to convince their opposite groups. The students’ skills were put to the test and they were able to speak passionately on issues that they have strong opinions about.

Finally, the last session had the students write a letter to their Congressperson, describing the issue they care about the most about and what solutions they think could work. The students picked topics related to quality education, immigration reform, peace and justice, and gender equality. Even they had to write in English, the kids persevered and turned out beautifully written, personal letters that combined their own stories and their passion to change their community. The students were engaged and were proud to share their letters with the entire group.

All in all, the collaboration with the Latin American Youth Center proved to be a success, both in the Global Classrooms DC team having the opportunity to work in the DC community, and in the high school participants learning new skills.

                   Written by Nicole Bohannon, Global Classrooms DC
                                                  Photo Credit: LAYC