5 things I love about the 2022 YLA

August 17, 2022

Safaa is a high school student and member of our 2022 Youth Leadership Academy! We asked her to reflect on her YLA experience so far — here’s what she said!

Youth Leadership Academy participants

1. Our family groups

“I’m going to start with something that I most connected with: family groups. Family groups were groups of 7-9 young people with one mentor, and we would basically discuss our day and connect on a deeper level. And it was completely random so you got to meet new people and explore different things.”

Youth Leadership Academy family group

2. D.C. sightseeing in July

“I also really loved when we traveled to D.C. We did a lot of sightseeing and it was fun talking with peers and seeing everyone’s perspectives on different things. The staff there were really caring and attentive and I felt safe knowing if I needed something, there would be someone. It felt great to have a huge support system — and a roommate, because you become closer than you would ever imagine.”

Youth Leadership Academy sightseeing in DC

3. Being inspired by guest speakers

“We had some really great guest speakers also, which included Paxton Smith, Aranya Johar and Shania Bennet. These are just a few examples of the young activists who inspired me to make change and start a project on tackling social justice issues. For my project, I decided to focus on period poverty in my community.”

Youth Leadership Academy guest speakers

4. Deep dives

“Another thing I loved was our deep dives — workshops on specific topics. We did a deep dive on climate change and gender equality, and really talked about the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and why they are such pressing matters to tend to. It really opened my eyes and helped me discover how much the world was suffering.”

Youth Leadership Academy workshops

5. Opportunities for networking, leadership and fun!

“I established a lot of great networks and found people who had the same interests as me, and it made me feel empowered. We also did a leadership compass to really understand what type of leader we are and what drives us to do what we do.

“And at the end of the night, we always came back together and did something fun, whether it was game night or a talent show. I can speak for a lot of people and say we really did enjoy our time. I liked how much freedom we had, where there were rules set in place but they weren’t so strict that you had no space to breathe. The campus we stayed at was really beautiful and had amazing food, and most importantly, Starbucks! We got to know each other so well through ice breakers and just talking amongst ourselves, and I know that I will have a bond with these people forever.”

Youth Leadership Academy

Learn more about our Youth Leadership Academy! Applications for the 2023 program will open in November, 2023.