Summer at the Future Leaders Programme
Students from various schools spent three weeks in the Future Leaders Programme this summer. Young Observer met up with the students to learn more about their experience and the community action plans they would like to see put into place.
• Community Action Plans
Malay Robinson — Summer Camp Journal entry
Today we started Unit 3: Identity and Privilege. We started off with an activity called Privilege Walk. We were asked a series of 40 questions, in which we had to either step forward or backward if the statement applies to us.
For me, the activity sparked many emotions as it made me address many things I go to which I choose to deny and suppress. Some of the questions were about sexual harassment; addressing that was difficult.
On too many occasions as a young female I experience this. I know the routine of walking home in the dark and calling my mom while I walk and describing to her my surroundings, so if anything happened to me she would know where I was. Even being 16 years old I have to beg my mom to wait with me at the bus stop until it comes because I feel unsafe. It was hard to mentally address these hardships that I and many other girls normalise in our society.
At the end of the 40 questions, depending on the steps that you took, if you were closer to the front of the group you were deemed more privileged and if you were closer to the back of the group, you were not as privileged. I found myself at the back of the group and that made me feel very strange inside. I felt as though I was less than everyone else around me, but then I had to stop my thoughts and remember that with everything I go through, I am still able to rise above it and conquer this world. We must remember that 10 per cent of life is what happens to us, and 90 per cent is how we react to it.
We dug deep into Oppression and Privilege, and how they go hand in hand with each other. I learnt that we must recognise that wherever there is privilege, there is someone else being oppressed. I now understand that there are many things about a person that can make them oppressed or privileged.
For example, in our society I feel privileged because I am a Christian, but as a female I feel oppressed. I realised that, personally, I belong to more target groups — the group that must conform or is out of the societal norm — rather than agent groups — the group that has the power to decide what is normal or accepted in society. For example being a young black female places me in three different target groups all at once. The unit of Identity and Privilege has made me truly realise that being me means that I have to work harder to be as successful as I strive to be in life. I know that I have the strength to break the limits that society has tried to place on me, and I want everyone to understand that they can fight too. Privilege brings great power and “With great power, comes great responsibility.” — Voltaire. So we must use whatever privileges we have to be successful in life.
• Malay Robinson — Action Plan
My name is Malay Robinson and I am about to enter my senior year at The Berkeley Institute. Being a part of the Future Leaders Programme this summer was an overall amazing experience. It challenged my mindset and it has pushed me past my limit. This was an extreme learning experience, and to think that it is only the beginning; wow!
All of the different units we covered opened my eyes and I feel like it is now my duty to do something about the challenges we are facing in this world. Throughout our studies I feel as though the root to a lot of the problems in our community today are a lack of education. Education in all aspects is something very important to me, so my initiative is to ensure a higher percentage rate of students passing their classes and truly understanding the material in their classes. This peer-to-peer assistance with school work and understanding material will be open to all students who need or want help.
Our goal is to make students feel comfortable with learning from someone closer to their age. To benefit the students giving the assistance they can receive community service hours, which everyone needs for school. Even though it may start small, I hope that it will start a trend for other schools and all students will take advantage of it. As a result, I hope that we see a change in the success rate among all Bermudian students.
Helping Bermuda’s youth is crucial because we are the future, and we must be fully equipped to take on our islands future. As our quote says: “We must dare to invent the future.”
— Thomas Sankara
• Roneeyah Jones
While participating in the Future Leaders Programme we were asked to create an action plan to advance our community.
My action plan is to create an organisation that encourages students and assist them with furthering their education. It will help with creating a résumé, researching colleges that are the best fit both academically and socially, applying to these colleges, as well as applying for scholarships. It will be offered to students from S1 to S4.
This programme will be community led; using people from within the community to assist. Students will go into different work environments and gain a better understanding of what career path they would like to take, and receive firsthand experience in particular jobs that will be of interest to them. There will also be time for the students to bond and build friendships.
I also hope that the people involved will become mentors for the students. The Future Leaders Programme helped expand my view on various issues in our community. Although I can not change some of these issues right away or even on my own, I would like to help students develop and become positive influences in our community so that my generation and generations to come can ensure that Bermuda is a country that provides equal opportunities for all.
• Vashti Smith
In Future Leaders, I was asked to think of a cause for which I would advocate; as I sat in my chair I thought of many worthy causes for which I would certainly advocate. However, after much in-depth thinking, I decided to advocate for a programme to which I could relate which is mental health. I suffer from anxiety, and I have allowed it to interfere with my schooling as well as my overall abilities. Because I suffer from anxiety, I have not been able to work to my fullest potential; therefore, failing to show my true capabilities. I experience most of my anxiety while speaking in public and/or in front of large crowds, as well as during tests/exams.
Fortunately, I have found two activities in which I do not experience anxiety: dancing and acting. These two activities serve as my outlet. During periods when I experience high anxiety, I can count on dancing and acting to bring me internal peace. Anxiety is something from which numerous individuals suffer, and I wish to help others find their outlet.
To me, it is extremely important to find something that you genuinely enjoy, in which you can participate without fear of receiving scrutiny from others. Finding one’s outlet is a sure way to feel free, and release the internal stress that comes with anxiety.