At the 2017 Quaker Youth Leadership Conference, students from dozens of Quaker schools across the country came to share and learn from one another. This year’s theme was “Bridging Communities”, which seemed very fitting for this time. Students had the opportunity to visit museums and go on service trips in New York. I got to go to the 9/11 Tribute Center, where we got the perspective of a survivor of the attacks. Later, I went on a service trip to Crown Heights, where my group learned about affordable housing and the effects gentrification had on neighborhoods. This was very interesting because I had known about gentrification being a problem, but I had never had the chance to learn more intensely about the issue. I met lots of fun people at QYLC as well, and there was a great sense of community there.
This year, the ninth grade separated into small groups to do YPI Projects. These were just picking problems in our community, then picking charities that related to the problems, then presenting power points on them. We judged each other’s presentations and then the finalists went before us and other judges for the final presentations.
Although I didn’t make it into the finalists, I still learned a lot about the issue my team mates and I were focusing on, police brutality. While I had obviously heard of specific cases on the news, I had never really looked at the whole issue and what else it effected. This changed when my team mates and I were doing research on police brutality for our project. I feel like I have a much more well-rounded knowledge of the issue and the things it connects to now because of the YPI project.
I found it very challenging sometimes to write about some of the cases or even the issue of police brutality itself, not just because of its horribleness, but also because I have never really been a victim of police brutality. This project made me think about others and what they face, and how I must use my privilege to not close out others in need, but empower them. So I suppose that this aspect was both challenging and rewarding.