if you change

Annie Roberts, now a sophomore at Boston College, was a participant in the Youth Global Leadership program throughout her time at Regis High School in Aurora, CO. During the summer of 2016, she returned to Philanthropiece, this time in a professional role as one of our YGL Program Interns. In this blog post, Annie reflects on her recent role.

From the first day I stepped foot in the Barn to begin my internship for Philanthropiece’s Youth Global Leadership program, I knew things would be different. I didn’t realize they would be that different.

Having been a member of YGL from my sophomore year of high school to my senior year, I thought I knew the ins and outs of the program. To some extent, I did. But in a lot of ways, I didn’t. I had no idea what went on behind the scenes; I only ever really thought about what was right in front of me at YGL meetings and workshops. I didn’t often think about all the logistics and the work that went into ensuring that YGL was the best program it could possibly be. I didn’t often consider how difficult it is to make every activity so intentional. To be intentional, you have to create, revise, discuss, and revise again.

There is something to be said for how intentionally this program is run. It takes an incredible amount of work to understand and consider all possible effects of every workshop, every retreat, every Insight Trip, and every Monthly Meeting. It is extraordinarily difficult to examine all issues with a critical lense, but that’s what YGLers (and YGL interns, like myself) are learning to do on a regular basis by witnessing the example of the wonderful YGL Program Coordinator, Alicia Conte.

The effort that members of the Philanthropiece Staff put into developing this program intentionally is certainly worth it. YGL has allowed me (as both a member of the program and an intern) and other YGLers who have come before and after me to expand our respective worldviews immensely. I learned that when important issues are neglected, it’s not because people don’t care. It’s because people don’t know. Learning about issues that don’t get much attention in the mainstream media not only allows me to be a more thoughtful and informed person; it also fosters deeper connections between myself and other members of my community and allows me to explore and develop my passions. Consider this excerpt from an essay I wrote about YGL:

On a hot July day in 2013, while volunteering at a goat farm with my Youth Global Leadership group, I learned something about myself – something that had gone unbeknownst to me throughout my first sixteen years of existence. That earth-shattering something can be summarized in three words: I love llamas. While this may be a trivial matter, discovering my love of llamas shows the extent to which YGL enables me to explore my community, which in turn teaches me a great deal about myself: where my passions lie, what I’m curious about, and what motivates me.

If it weren’t for YGL, I would have no idea about the prevalence of sexual assault in Cairo, Egypt. I wouldn’t know about the disadvantages to women in rural South Asia and the obstacles they face in getting an education. I probably wouldn’t pay attention to issues regarding energy access on Navajo reservations in the American Southwest. Llamas are only a fraction of the myriad ways in which this program has changed me. My life and my experiences are so much richer because of the YGL program. My worldview has changed drastically since I became a part of it, and in doing so, it became a part of me.

If YGL wasn’t run so intentionally, the impact it left on me wouldn’t be nearly as deep. Although being intentional, critical, and analytical in creating every workshop and facilitating every discussion is not the easiest or the quickest way to get things done, it is certainly the most impactful. Interning for YGL this summer was a reflective, centering, and rewarding experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Special thanks to Alicia Conte, the YGL Program Coordinator, Katie Doyle Myers, the Director of Programs, and my fellow YGL Program Intern, Sierra Asmussen, for being instrumental in making this such a wonderful experience.

20160630_095233Annie Roberts is currently studying information systems, business analytics, and international development in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. There’s a very good chance that she knows more about the Denver Broncos than you do. To learn more about Youth Global Leadership, please check out the program’s website