Cedar Valley Community School was lucky to have the opportunity to attend the Second Annual Youth Philanthropy Summit last Thursday. This Penny Harvest event was a chance for students from all over the greater Seattle area to come together and collectively share and learn more about philanthropy and social justice work. Ten student leaders from Cedar Valley attended the conference. I would like to take a little bit of time to share some of what I learned last week about the students with whom I work.
I learned that they are dedicated: Each of them knew that it would take two or three public buses (and a bit of a walk) to reach the Seattle Center, and an hour and a half of travel time each way. They all signed up regardless, knowing that this opportunity was important to them. I didn’t hear one single complaint on the buses. What I did hear were discussions about what would happen, about which cities and counties we were passing through, about how their day went, and what they learned from the different organizations.
I learned that they are collaborative: During the morning portion of the event, Cedar Valley participated in a “scavenger hunt,” learning information about dozens of community organizations. All ten of our students worked together harmoniously. They shared resources, helped each other find clues, and encouraged each other the whole time.
I learned that they are confident: During Lulu Carpenter’s keynote speech, our student leaders joined over a hundred other students in shouting out affirmations. With smiles on their faces, they declared that they believed in themselves, and that they could change the world.
I learned that they aware and inquisitive: After the keynote address, there were four choices of caucus groups to attend: youth leadership, animal welfare, the environment, and homelessness. Our students split up fairly evenly between the latter three issues. I joined one group in the homelessness caucus. They were quiet, respectful, and engaged while the panel introduced many difficult concepts. Fourth grader Allan even bravely raised his hand to ask a few theoretical questions throughout the day. They all paid attention, and were able to share many new things that they had learned during the conference.
I learned that they are full of joy: A highlight of the day was when a seagull took off with Paola’s pizza at lunchtime. It was totally unexpected and funny, and nobody laughed louder than Paola, even after she got a new piece. It was refreshing to see that in the middle of a day dealing with heavy, heavy issues, they could fully experience the humor and lightness of that moment.
I learned that they will all do amazing things in their lives. It’s true. It’s cheesy, but it’s true. How do I know this? They’ve already come together to accomplish some pretty amazing things.