When re-reading my journal entries from the recent Youth Global Leadership Insight Trip what stood out to me most was not the words, but the punctuation; most of my pages are filled with phrases that ended with question marks. I think the YGLers will agree that we arrived in the Midwest with questions – and left with more of them.
In Chicago, our friends at the Mexico Solidarity Network invited us to ask questions: What does it mean to be an undocumented immigrant in this country? What is capitalism? How can I be an ally? What does it mean to swim against the current? Are you part of a market or a movement?
In Detroit, more questions: What is the purpose of education? Of work? What do you really really really want to be and do in your life? What does it mean to be human in the 21st Century? What are people in your own community silent about? How can you break that silence? What time is it?
Among all the questions, however, one thing was affirmed for us: the strength and power that is found in community. We learned that community is an integral life-source in the struggle for justice. Our friends in Detroit and Chicago remind us that none of us exist in isolation, and that love itself is a revolutionary act.
“Humanity is coalescing,” writes activist and author Paul Hawken. “It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages, campuses, companies, refugee camps, deserts, fisheries and slums.” In the Youth Global Leadership program, we are building a community of youth who are coalescing around a crazy idea that collectivism is indeed more powerful than individualism, and that another way is possible. We know because we’ve glimpsed it in ourselves and in the Midwest. After returning home from an incredible learning journey, the question we’re left with is not “What am I going to do about all of this suffering and injustice in the world?” The question we are asking ourselves is: “What are we going to do about it?” We invite you – our Youth Global Leadership and Philanthropiece community, our friends and family members, folks we know and people we will one day know – into these questions with us, and encourage you to ask some of your own.
Alicia Conte is the Program Coordinator for the Youth Global Leadership program of Philanthropiece. To learn more about the program, or to find out how to apply, please visit www.yglboulder.org.