“Youth” is a recurring theme on the Latin American Youth Center’s social media posts-for obvious reasons. The LAYC is the safe haven for the youth to showcase their talents and to prepare to make the changes to progress towards a more democratic government in the United States. I conclude this from an article on the website called, “Inauguration Day at LAYC is to ‘Dream about a Better World'”. This article caught my attention specifically because I empathize with how this specific marginalized community would be further marginalized under the Trump regime. This article was a description of the fact that the LAYC would be open on Inauguration Day. “While the LAYC’s staff has decided to host this space, the program during the day will be held by youth in LAYC programs…We look forward to building our youth’s voices and their critical thinking skills about the days to come.” Seeing this in the article reminds me that there are still non-profit organization not only doing the work for the attention and reputation.
In my opinion, the LAYC fits into Ryder’s Matrix on in “For the People” and “By the People”. Considering “For the People”, this event on Inauguration Day was a collectivist effort to provide a comfortable space for a marginalized community on a traumatic day in U.S. history. The students and staff wanted to ensure that the threatened and scared families would be emotionally taken care of. Regarding “By the People”, the students running the program hosted an open mic from 1:00 pm until 2:00 pm with spoken word. Usually through spoken word, the speaker activates the emotional reasoning of the audience. After analyzing these two aspects, I would place the LAYC in the front left of Ryder’s Matrix. I can also relate the LAYC’s style of programming to the George Lakoff reading, categorizing it as the “Nurturing Parent” style of political discourse rather than the “Strict Father”. Operating with the acceptance of diverse mindsets, the discipline at the LAYC is based on mutual respect and emotional reliance. There is an empathetic way of going about caring for the community, not believing that these kids would be inherently naughty and deserving of punishment.
Personally, I can relate to the “Nurturing Parent” approach more, as I grew up under the “Strict Father” approach, which ended up straining my relationships with my nuclear family. I appreciate how this organization uplifts the voices of the students rather than overshadowing or hindering their voices and allows the students to forge their own paths to their future and the future of our global society, providing the resources for those lacking sufficient support but showing a profound amount of potential. I am proud to be volunteering at an organization that operates the way the LAYC does, embracing love as the foundation of empowerment.
Absorbing the options of EngageDC on the handout provided in class, I flipped back and forth through the pages over and over again. This was a whole semester-long commitment to volunteer somewhere; I wanted to choose wisely so that I would not regret my decision. I did not want to be a tutor. I have been an active tutor for kids whose first language is Spanish through my high school’s chapter of the National Spanish Honors Society, and tutoring just is not my style. When I go in with the goal of tutoring, I usually end up having given the student a life lesson instead of helping him or her with a necessary homework assignment. This may have been useless academically to the student, but they appreciated how I was able to connect with them on a deeper-than-homework level. It also showed me that I have the capacity and talent to bond one-on-one with students. Seeing “Social Media Intern” made me think I would be able to form close relationships with students from different backgrounds than myself but actually accomplish my assignments. Upon seeing that it was through the Latin American Youth Center, I got excited because I would be able to out my language skills to use.
The position there that I kept getting drawn to was “Social Media Intern”. I love to work with photography-honestly, if I was not majoring in International Affairs, I would be studying photojournalism-, so I finally stopped flipping through the pages and noted that the hours were very limited. However, being that the organization was the Latin American Youth Center, I thought to myself, “Eh. Still apply for this one. They might work with you more since you can speak Spanish fluently.” After meeting with the site operations manager, this turned out to be accurate. Unfortunately, I will not be the Social Media Intern because my schedule was too difficult to function with that position. Nevertheless, something better was in store for me, and they needed me more somewhere else when I happened to be free. I get to go on Friday afternoons to the music classes and simply be a translator for the music teachers. This may sound very boring to the average Joe, but I want to become a certified translator to make extra money in university, and this could help legitimize that aspiration. Also, I will be the only bilingual volunteer there, so I can be the bridge of trust between the students and the teacher, and that makes me feel like I am truly an important part of the process.
The element from the LAYC’s website that kept my interest the most was the picture on the home page. It features five students of minority backgrounds. Knowing that I will be working with students of different origins than myself motivates me more because I know I will be able to learn just as much from them as they will from me. These students also looked genuinely happy with themselves, and currently, I am at a point in my life where I am dedicating my thought process to optimism and happiness only, so being surrounded by their peace of mind would really benefit me as well. I think what this service learning project will bring to me is a more profound understanding of my mantra, “Unidad En Diversidad”.