Last summer, I took some time away from the U-Report Youth Council to work as a general counsellor at a camp for underprivileged kids from New York put on by the Fresh Air Fund. It was an awesome responsibility, with the goal being to give these kids the best summer of their lives.
I was put in a position where I was responsible to mentor these kids, to be their friend, their father, their uncle. I’ve only just finished high school myself and these children were up to age 13. So in some cases we were only five years apart, and I learned so much.
Being a mentor for other teens
These kids came from a multiplicity of backgrounds: some of them were broken, some of them had lost parents. Some of them were in position that I can’t mention. Yet they were the smartest set of kids that I have ever met in my life. Despite everything they were so sweet.
I can compare some of their trauma to that suffering I know here in Jamaica, where it has caused some of my peers to join gangs or commit other crimes. It has a lot to do with your outlook, where you can choose to wear your pain or with the right help and opportunities use it to catapult you in life towards what you are meant to become.
Making a difference again in 2020
As a Jamaican, meeting underprivileged kids in what we think is a rich country or a country full of opportunities was eye opening. It taught me that what is portrayed to us, whether in the media or by word of mouth, if we don’t experience stuff for ourselves we will never actually get a full understanding of the world around us.
When I return next year I am excited about the extra training I will receive to make me better equipped to counsel these kids, because this is a learning experience for me too. I am so excited about being the difference in their lives.