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Amos Avoce

Global Youth Innovation Network
Program Participant

My name is Amos A. Avoce. I am 22 years old and live in Parakou, Benin. I’ve been working with Phelps Stokes for about 10 months now. My partnership with Phelps Stokes began at a Global Youth conference for Innovation in Cotonou, Benin in 2011. President and founder of GIVE1PROJECT, Thione Niang, notified me of this opportunity and I ended up representing GIVE1PROJECT Benin at the conference. The 3 day conference was a fabulous experience. This was the first time I’d assisted at an international forum of this size.

I had the opportunity to meet and speak with many young people like myself at this conference. Since then, I’ve opened myself up to the world. Phelps Stokes’ workshop helped me realize that young people in developing countries have the opportunity to impact individuals on an international level. For example, I could utilize my skills at a local and national level. The opportunity that Phelps Stokes gave me allowed me to enlarge the scope of my skills to an international level. Since then, I’m been working with Phelps Stokes’ Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) as the coordinator of the Youth Advisory Group. For the past 10 months, the experiences I’ve obtained through this position has changed my life and mentality.

My first challenge as the GYIN coordinator was the language barrier. I am a native French speaker. During my educational career, I made no effort to become proficient in English, Spanish, or Arabic. I work with GYIN, an international network whose first language is English. I am continuously collaborating with GYIN ambassadors from various regions of the world (Spain, Portugal, Egypt, Yemen). I am now attempting to become more proficient in English. Through GYIN, Phelps Stokes provided the opportunity and framework to learn this essential language.

My role in GYIN via Phelps Stokes also reinforces my skills in organization management and
youth networks. I am very passionate about organization management, a domain in which I hope to obtain a career. As GYIN coordinator, I am practically applying the skills necessary in organization management. But my experience with GYIN is different. It allows me to extend my expertise to the international level. My leadership skills and understanding of democracy and management on an international level where cultural diversity is an important fact has increased. This new position allowed me to better serve my community. With GYIN, we share successful experiences and reproduce them throughout the world.

Phelps Stokes has also given me the opportunity to expand my partnership network. Two examples include the strategic partnership between GYIN and the FIDA, in Rome on February of 2012. During this trip, I visited FIDA’s headquarters, had the opportunity to meet individuals
at this institution, discuss GYIN and establish future partnerships. The second example is Pape Samb’s (CEO of Phelps Stokes) arrival at Benin to introduce me to partners in Benin. Pape’s arrival allowed me to establish contact with the World Bank’s representative in Benin, the director of
USAID Benin, and the director of Songhai.

Finally, GYIN has given my community a success story and has encouraged many young people I know to become leaders. I always share my story in regards to GYIN and Phelps Stokes at various events, conferences, or leadership seminars that are organized by GIVE1PROJECT for youth. This inspires them and motivates them to take initiative in their communities and extend them to an international level. Phelps Stokes helped me impact the youth in my city, country, and in the rest of the world. I am very proud to work with Phelps Stokes.

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 July 2012 21:27

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Abigail Simmons

Professional Leadership Development Internship
Program Participant
So much can happen in one year. It was one year ago, on May 24th 2011, that I came to my first Phelps Stokes intern orientation along with about 10 other young people. As this was my first experience interning for an NGO, I was nervous. I was hoping that I would just get through the first day without making any mistakes, little knowing that I would still be working for Phelps Stokes one year later. It might sound nice if I said that I have not made any mistakes during my time here.

However, the truth is that Phelps Stokes is a place that bestows true responsibilities on their interns and allows them to make mistakes and take chances as they tie their work to their own personal passions and interests. So I can thankfully say that, I have had glitches along the way which have allowed me to have many learning experiences, many successes, and even more opportunities to grow and develop during my year at Phelps Stokes. In summary, I have planned discussion events, helped in the creation of a website, corresponded with foreign partners, traveled to West Africa, and even represented one of our programs at the UN. While reflecting on my recent experiences, I can easily say that I am a different person than I was a year ago due in large part to my internship.
I began my internship as a database intern but was slowly given more administrative work and eventually began working on non-digital communications for the Africa programs until I recently became an assistant to the head of communications at Phelps Stokes. My co-interns and I were able to attend lunches each week with NGO professionals with diverse backgrounds and an array of careers, which allowed us to ask questions and further explore our career interests while building constructive relationships with international NGO experts. I learned much about West African and French culture, as many of my co-interns were from France and Senegal and as I participated in planning events for our programs in Benin and Senegal. In October I participated in the Global Youth Innovation Network workshop fair and conference in Cotonou, Benin and am now a GYIN ambassador and liaison to Phelps Stokes. I continue to create relationships with translators for many of our documents and marketing materials which need to be rendered in French, Spanish, and Arabic and I continue to communicate with program participants all over Africa, Europe, and Latin America on a daily basis. I know with certainty that my experience as an intern at Phelps Stokes is in no way unique in comparison to my fellow co- interns, although, as I have met other young professionals in DC who make copies and answer phones all day, it is extremely unheard of elsewhere.
 This internship has given me unique exposure to international development work and the ability to pursue my academic and professional interests while also gaining hands-on, practical experience in serving marginalized communities. However, the thing that has made the greatest impact on me is the leadership and encouraging zeal of young people around the world and in the Phelps Stokes offices who are determined to empower their fellow entrepreneurs and generate positive change in their communities. Even the interns that worked for Phelps Stokes last summer have gone on to pursue their careers while remaining connected to Phelps Stokes because we have all built lifelong friendships with each other. This is one reason why I desired to continue my internship into my fall and spring semesters this past year. I realized that my internship was the best lens through which I could continue my studies in International Affairs.  I have cultivated deep connections with passionate people and continued my interests through this internship. Needless to say, I am excited to see where this next year at Phelps Stokes takes me.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 July 2012 00:26

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William T.

National Homecomers Academy
Program Participant
William T. was only 21-years old when those steel doors locked.  That was in 1977 and Jimmy Carter was President of the United States.  There were no personal computers or cell phones then.  That was the era of typewriters and rotary-dial pay phones.  The price of gasoline was 65-cents a gallon.  The minimum wage was just $2.30.  And William T. was in the prime of his youth with a lifetime of possibilities.  All of those hopes and dreams came to a crashing end when the steel doors slammed shut.

But, on this night, William T. is a happy man. Seven-hundred fifty-two days of “deliverance” – a spiritual awakening that occurred just before he left a Florida jail cell with a heart that ached to be a better man.  He believes that he is a force for good.  He has banded with the other Homecomers to be an agent for change.  William T. will to do everything and anything to convince at-risk men and women to “choose a different path.”  He can show them where the other path leads.  He speaks from his heart.  As he talks, he passes out his card – “William T., National Homecomers Academy, Community Change Agent.”  And on that card is his cell phone number.  He delivers the message:  “You can call me, any time.  Day or night – or in the middle of the night.  I’ll answer.”

From the corner of his eye, William T. spots a young man – reluctant, withdrawn, hanging back from the others.  When the chance presents itself, William T. slips away from the crowd and approaches him.  He’s about nineteen years old and thin.  His eyes, bloodshot with pupils dilated, reveal instantly to William T. that the young man is high.  William T. has that unsettled feeling that he is looking at himself in a distant mirror.

“So, Shorty.  What’s your story?  Why are you here?” asks William T.  And the two men begin to converse.  And little-by-little, they build a rapport.  William T. learns that the young man is troubled – continually being prodded and coaxed by his “street friends” to participate in activities that could cause him to windup “behind bars.”  They talk for the next hour.

As the grill is being stowed away and the stereo speakers disconnected, William T. slips the young man his card and, with a smile, repeats to Shorty what he had earlier told the crowd:  “You can call me, any time.  Day or night – or in the middle of the night.  I’ll answer.”

A little more than four months have passed since that August night.  And William T.’s cell phone is ringing.  He opens his eyes and picks up the phone.  It’s 2:38 a.m.

“Hey, O.G. (short for Old Gangster), you said I could call you any time.” says the voice on the other end. “I did, Shorty.  I did say that,” William T. replies.

For the next two hours, the O.G. and the young man talk.  Something is about to “go down,” and Shorty’s “friends” want him to be a part of it.   But, the young man doesn’t want to be involved – and William T. counsels him and speaks from his heart.  William T. talks about choosing paths and about consequences. “Stand-up and man-up,” urges William T.

Somewhere in the District of Columbia, that next evening, an armed robbery occurred.  The perpetrators were arrested.  “Shorty” was not among them.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 July 2012 21:05

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Nick Zimura

Global Ambassador
Program Participant
My parents started the grassroots philanthropic foundation, now known as Lillian Watson Values (LWV) in the mid 1980s. I grew up witnessing their charitable endeavors, and admiring it. I took over their work a few years back, and have enjoyed the challenge. I met a lot of challenges, and desperately needed support and help navigating how to conquer these challenges. It was by sheer luck that I stumbled into Phelps Stokes, and after one meeting I knew this was where all my challenges were going to be met head on. I have been a Phelps Stokes Global Ambassador for more than a year, and the experience has been nothing but awesome.

My partnering with Phelps Stokes has led me to meet very interesting, influential and intelligent people. I have learned a lot, and my network of contacts has grown exponentially. Phelps Stokes has opened doors that were not only unthinkable, but those that I wasn’t aware of. The sheer mention of Phelps Stokes name helps with the credibility factor that most small organizations like LWV suffer. The support staff at the offices of Phelps Stokes has been tremendous at giving me all the assistance I can get. 

Being a global ambassador has enriched my work, my professionalism and my personal life. Phelps Stokes has taken me to heights I could not have otherwise gone alone!!!

Last Updated on Friday, 27 July 2012 00:28

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Jorge Luque

Latino Youth Leadership
Program Participant
My name is Jorge Luque and I am from Panama City, Panama. My first language is Spanish although I am fluent in English as well. Halfway through the year of 2009, I moved to the United States of America with the hopes of receiving a higher level of education. One year later I was accepted into Duke Ellington School of the Arts as a guitar major. Since then I have been working very hard, academically and artistically, in order to become a successful musician. My ultimate goal in life is to promote moral principles and values such as unity, equality and generosity through the influence of music.
However, to accomplish said goal I need basic leadership skills which is why I decided to participate in the Latino Youth Global Leadership Program. By the end of the program I hope to have gained more self-confidence and the ability to effectively speak in public. I also hope to understand better the racial and ethnic issues currently occurring in our society and how can I improve them.     Finally, I am also interested in the college preparation and scholarship opportunities that the Latino Youth Global Leadership Program offers.
So far I have enjoyed my experience at the Latino Youth Global Leadership Program. I have learned more about what one’s identity means and what the differences between race and ethnicity are. I have also learned about the values, skills and characteristics that make someone a leader. Most importantly though, I have learned much from the experiences shared by the other participants of the program. Experiences and opinions which have contributed to my personal growth have made me even more aware of how people are treated differently based on their race or ethnicity. I have also shared some of my own experiences and views with other members which has improved my conversational skill and the ability to express my ideas. I am looking forward to keep participating in the program and further improve my leadership skills.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 July 2012 00:26

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