On Presence: Notes from a Team Leader

The following is written by Surline Jolicoeur, an AmeriCorps Member and Team Leader with YVC of Danbury, CT.

This past weekend, our YVCers took part in a kindness project for Ben’s Bells in Bethel, CT. As the snow flurries descended from the sky and created a coat of white fluff on the ground, the Youth Volunteers and I barely noticed as we became enraptured in the moment that we were in.

In a world where everyone’s attention is always divided due to the distractions that bombard us daily, it is rather rare to spend over an hour and a half enthralled in great conversation.

Typically, as a Team Leader, I make it my mission to capture the moments of our volunteers serving their communities and that day was no different. In other words, my phone is always on me or in my hand poised to take a picture. I planned on taking numerous photos of our amazing YVCers to put up on our social media. However, once our project began, I decided that I wanted this project to be different. I took my phone out of the vicinity because I wanted the next hour or so completely dedicated to them.

It. Was. Magical.

Our youth have so much to say in regard to what they think, feel, and aspire to be. However, rarely do adults take the time out to really listen. We often rationalize it by simply stating, “They do not know what they are talking about. They’re still young.”

We couldn’t be more wrong.

In the span of an hour and a half, I sat enthralled at the sheer wisdom that these young people possess. They think differently, yes. But, that is what makes them so awe-inspiring. They love the arts, music, history, philosophy, STEM and numerous other things since they constantly want to be learning something new.

Let me put it this way:

How many times a day do you type a question in on Google simply because you are curious as to what the answer may be? If you all are anything like me, I would say numerous times per day. Our Youth Volunteers do the exact same. They are thirsty for knowledge and insight on what the world has to offer but that often gets lost in the belief that they only care about superficial things.

As Team Leaders, it is our job to reinforce and encourage that quest for knowledge and information within our Youth Volunteers. Teaching them that they are exactly who and what and where they are supposed to be goes a long way as well.

Therefore, I urge all our Team Leaders to put down the phones and give yourself a chance to experience what I did this past weekend. In that small studio tucked away behind a small shopping center with the snow falling in earnest, I learned a very valuable lesson that I will always carry with me…“Wherever you are, be all there.” -Jim Elliot 

Thank you, Surline, for these wise words and for all you do for youth and the community!

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