Connecticut Campus Compact (CTCC), Rhode Island Campus Compact (RICC) and Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), in collaboration with their member campuses and community partners, held their third annual student leadership conference on Saturday, November 5th, 2016 the University of Connecticut's student union. This was a one-day conference sought to create a discussion about creating change through activism and what is required in order to achieve this. This 2016 Student Leadership Conference theme also focused on “We the Students: Linking Identity, Community and Social Change”. The event started with guest speaker Kamora Le’Ella Herrington telling her personal story which linked together issues of identity and activism. After the guest speaker finished we broke off into smaller groups and attended two different workshops throughout the afternoon.
My first workshop looked at a nonprofit in Connecticut that worked with students who were not U.S. citizens in order to help them get access to funding for their educational costs in college. This was interesting to me personally because of the work they did with youth and the work the organization did lobbying elected officials. This nonprofit tried for a number of years to get legislation passed in order to provide more equity treatment of students attending college by allowing them access to money they currently pay into but do not qualify to received because of citizenship. This fits in our theme of creating change at the policy level of government in order to assist youth through the challenges they face. The organization’s method of approach mirrored ours very closely and provided a great in practice example of things we have learned in class that we did not get to apply.
My second workshop focused on photography and the connection with youth. While this workshop did focus on photography they really went into great detail about incorporating all kinds of artistic venues such as museums and comics. This workshop to me was the most creative one as it allowed us to explore ourselves and our community through the lens of art. We even got a chance to practice this by creating our own bio of ourselves using Polaroid pictures, crayons, color pencils and markers and explaining what our pictures represent and how others viewed our work thought it represented us. In youth development we often have to look at our students through many different lens and try to find strengths within them that we can help to further develop. I think art is a great place to discuss different perspectives and ideas that youth may have about their community and themselves.