Starting the new YAC year at 103%

Annie Wood

Arriving back at my dorm on Sunday afternoon, the silence was alarming. As a college freshman, I'm learning that Sundays on campus are typically quieter, as the designated study day. But it seemed an especially big contrast after being surrounded by almost nonstop energy last weekend at this year’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) retreat.  Being around the YAC is an intense experience, but I always leave feeling all filled up.

The weekend was filled with workshops put on by the NYLC staff and mentors, on everything from how to be a great facilitator, to the achievement gap, to courageous conversations, to elevator speeches.  The way the YAC approaches every subject and activity with compassion and humility, but also a sense of urgency, is a beautiful thing.  As a mentor, I already feel I've learned so much from the group and I am confident this year will bring many productive projects, initiatives and fun. The retreat was filled with exploration, growth, bonding, laughter and an explosion of planning.

It might be a weird metaphor, but I feel like most of the time, we live at 80% battery power; when I'm around the YAC, I'm at 103%. Whenever I'm with them, I feel so lucky to be surrounded by peers who are exceptionally passionate, smart, diverse, thoughtful, driven, unique and open youth.  Sometimes it's hard out there for a youth leader, especially when it comes to being heard.  But when we're all brought together for the purpose of promoting youth voice and developing leadership, anything seems possible.  Service-learning and NYLC are so empowering, I think we all felt recharged and energized to go change the world.

Stay tuned, because the YAC will be coming at you soon with exciting happenings, news, and ways to get involved.  This is just the beginning.

Emily Annie Wood is an NYLC Youth Advisory Council mentor

See more photos from the Youth Advisory Council retreat here on our Flickr page