CLP walking next to the border on the U.S. side.

Confronteras 2013: Day 3

This past February, eight Norte Vista High School seniors and four CLP young adult mentors traveled to the USA-Mexico for the Confronteras 2013 program. While we were there, the students took turns blogging and “vlogging” (video blogging) about their experiences.

For Day 3, Letty Cano shares the story of walking the trail of migrants through the desert and meeting activists on both sides of the border.

For more information about Confronteras, please visit: http://www.confronteras.blogspot.com/. You can check out all of our photos at: Confronteras 2013: Confronting the USA-Mexico Border

Spanish

Mi nombre es Leticia y soy parte del grupo CLP. La experiencia que tuve este día ha cambiado mi manera de pensar y también la de todo el grupo. Tuvimos una presentación con Jeannette Pazos en la cual aprendimos que todavía existe gente buena y generosa en este mundo. Escuchando su presentación me di cuenta que HEPAC es exactamente lo que dicen que es, un lugar de “Esperanza Y Paz”. Un lugar donde niños, jóvenes, y madres buscan entretenimiento y comida. Algo que no tienen en sus casas. Este lugar es un maravilloso y regresaría allí una y otra vez. Después de nuestra visita en HEPAC pasamos la frontera rápidamente. Lo cual me hizo dar cuenta que hay mucha gente que sufre y hasta muere tratando de cruzar la línea. Me di cuenta que debo de estar muy agradecida por la oportunidad y suerte que yo y todo el grupo de CLP tenemos. Cuando observamos la pared más cerca no podía creer que una barrera tenga el poder de separar a muchas familias.

CLP walking through the migrant trails in the desert.

Después de examinar la frontera tuvimos una caminata por el desierto con Shura. Una mujer que ayuda a inmigrantes con agua, comida, ropa, y a curar heridas. En otras palabras un ángel. Así es como uno de los inmigrantes la describió. Y en verdad menté lo es. Nunca nadie se imaginaria qué una “gringa” estuviera dispuesta de pasar por el desierto con todas las buenas intenciones del mundo. Cuando yo y el grupo caminamos por el desierto encontramos camisetas, pantalones, y especialmente muchas botellas de agua. Luego Shura nos enseno cosas que han encontrado y que son valiosas para ella porque ella sabe que lo fueron para las personas que lo cargaban. Cosas como Fotos, carteras, zapatos, ropa de bebe, aguas etc. No puedo y nunca podre imaginarme por lo que pasan estas personas valientes y con ganas de superarse en esta vida. Y mucho menos puedo imaginarme como se han de sentir sus familiares. Especialmente si mueren o son violados/as.

Mis padres fueron deportando solo cuando yo tenía trece años, entonces todo lo que tenga que ver con inmigración es de mi gran interés. Esta experiencia es inolvidable y me ha abierto los ojos para ayudar a gente que en verdad lo necesita. De hoy en adelante estaré muy agradecida cada vez que cruce la frontera después de visitar a mis padres porque sé que mucha gente sufre para pasar al otro lado. Algo que yo hago fácilmente y que otros desafortunadamente no pueden. Y cada vez que lo haga recordare a todas las personas que escuche este día y las anécdotas de personas que trataron de cruzar pero lamentosamente no lo lograron. Todo lo que aprendí este día siempre lo recordare en mi corazón.

Overview of housing in Nogales, Mexico.

Confronteras 2013: Day 2

This past February, eight Norte Vista High School seniors and four CLP young adult mentors traveled to the USA-Mexico for the Confronteras 2013 program. While we were there, the students took turns blogging and “vlogging” (video blogging) about their experiences.

For Day 2, the blog entry is from youth leaders Adriana Torres and Eliza Arcos who reflect on visiting youth centers, industrial parks, maquiladoras and Mexican youth leaders.

For more information about Confronteras, please visit: http://www.confronteras.blogspot.com/. You can check out all of our photos at: Confronteras 2013: Confronting the USA-Mexico Border

English

Our names are Eliza Arcos and Adriana Torres, and we are in the twelfth grade studying at Norte Vista High School. Today is the second day of our trip with Confronteras. After getting accommodated in the dormitories we had an I.C.E agent present information about the organization “Homeland Security Investigations” (HSI). The most important objectives for H.S.I are the trafficking of drug and humans, human smuggling and gang investigations.  These four categories are used to do investigations in private companies. The policy of “Worksite Enforcement” is used to fine companies for the use of undocumented people as laborers without shutting down the plant, but they would fire all undocumented employees and then deported them. This caused a lot of tension and anger with the H.S.I organization. The agent that presented did the best he could, answering our questions yet we felt that his answers weren’t sufficient.  At the end, we were able to reflect on today’s presentation and talk as a group on our thoughts about the presentation.

Later on we boarded the van and we embarked on our trip to Nogales, Sonora. When we got to the organization Hogar de Esperanza y Paz (H.E.P.A.C), they gave us a tour of the buildings and we played basketball with the kids of the community that were there. We then went to an industrial park and we stopped to see a community were workers of the factories lived in. The communities that we saw were limited in resources. On our way back to H.E.P.A.C, we stopped at a super market to buy some snacks and to enjoy the delicacies of Nogales! (: When we finally got back to H.E.P.A.C, one of Maricruz’s friend, Sol, talked to us about the work and working conditions in the factories. She told us how she as a worker had to work really hard in order to get to the position that she s in now. After we went downstairs into the kitchen to eat dinner and to enjoy the music that was being played on the guitar.  When we got to the dormitories we got together and talked about what we liked about today and what we wish for.

Youth play a round of basketball with local youth at HEPAC.

Spanish

Nuestros nombres son Eliza Arcos y Adriana Torres, y somos del grado doce estudiando en la preparatoria Norte Vista. Hoy es el segundo día de nuestro viaje con Confronteras. Después de acomodarnos en nuestros dormitorios y haber desayunado tuvimos un agente de I.C.E. presentar información sobre la organización “Homeland Security Investigations” (HSI). Los más importante objetivos para H.S.I. es el tráfico de drogas, humanos, human smuggling e investigaciones de pandillas. Estas cuarto categorías son usadas para hacer investigaciones de compañías privadas. La policía de “Worksite Enforcement” se usa para dar castigos de infracciones sin cerrar la planta, pero despiden a los empleados que son indocumentados y los deportan. Esto causó mucha tención y enojo con la organización H.S.I. El agente que hico la presentación hico lo mejor que pudo, respondiendo a nuestras preguntas aunque nosotros sentimos que sus respuestas no eran suficiente. Al final, pudimos reflexionar en la presentación y hablar en grupo sobre que pensamientos teníamos sobre la presentación.

Más después abordamos el auto y embarcamos en nuestro viaje a Nogales, Sonora. Llegando a la organización Hogar de Esperanza y Paz (H.E.P.A.C.), nos dieron un tur de los edificios y jugamos básquetbol con los niños que estaban. Luego fuimos a el parque industrial, y paramos a ver una comunidad de personas que trabajan en las maquilladoras. Las comunidades que miramos, eran limitadas a recursos. En el camino el regresar a H.E.P.A.C. paramos para agarrar golosinas y disfrutar de las delicias de Nogales! (: Cuando por fin llegamos a H.E.P.A.C. una amiga de Maricruz, Sol, nos hablo sobre el trabajo en las maquilladoras. Ella nos dijo que ella como trabajadora a trabajado muy duro parra llegar al puesto que tiene. Después bajamos a cenar y a disfrutar de canciones en la guitara. Luego fuimos a los dormitorios y nos juntamos como grupo a hablar de los cosas que nos gustaron hoy y de lo que deseamos.

CLP car's back windshield with "Youth Activist on Board" written.

Confronteras 2013: Day 1

This past February, eight Norte Vista High School seniors and four CLP young adult mentors traveled to the USA-Mexico for the Confronteras 2013 program. While we were there, the students took turns blogging and “vlogging” (video blogging) about their experiences.

For Day 1, the first blog entry is from youth leader Denise Diaz who describes the journey as CLP made their way to Tucson, Arizona to meet with BorderLinks.

For more information about Confronteras, please visit: http://www.confronteras.blogspot.com/. You can check out all of our photos at: Confronteras 2013: Confronting the USA-Mexico Border

Spanish

Mi nombre es Denise Diaz y soy un estudiante en la escuela preparatoria Norte Vista Vista High School. Yo y mis compañeros estamos en el viaje CONFRONTERAS, frente a la frontera (FRONTERAS) y es un proyecto de la organización, “Child Leader Project.” Child Leader Project (CLP) es una organización no lucrativa donde jóvenes y adultos jóvenes se juntan en espacios seguros para reflejar, conectar y actuar en cuestiones de justicia social que son más importantes para ellos.  Después de tomar una encuesta en nuestra escuela, Norte Vista High School, nos dimos cuenta de que uno de los problemas mayores que enfrentan jóvenes con sus familias en nuestra escuela y comunidad, inmigración/deportación. Entonces creamos el proyecto CONFRONTERAS. El año pasado 6 jóvenes y 4 adultos tomaron este viaje a la frontera de Arizona y México para un encuentro educativa sobre la inmigración, derechos humanos, el efecto de la frontera en todos los sentidos y lo que nosotros podríamos traer a casa o a nuestra comunidad.  Este año, continuamos con nuestro segundo viaje CONFRONTERAS y volvemos para continuar nuestro aprendizaje sobre la frontera y dar la oportunidad a nuevos jóvenes para tener la experiencia maravillosa que es CONFRONTERAS.

 

Youth working in BorderLinks kitchen.

 

Nuestro día empezó a las nueve de la mañana en la casa de CLP, Casa de Ourlanza donde decoramos nuestros autos con declaraciones. Frases como “Nuestros padres son inmigrantes, y somos orgullosos” y “reforma ahora”. Durante las siete horas que pasamos en el auto nos dimos cuenta que muchas personas se quedaban mirando y leyendo lo que teníamos en nuestros autos caros vimos en sus rostros que muchos aquí en Arizona no estaban de acuerdo con lo que pensábamos. Que tenían. Rápidamente se podía ver el cambio en paisaje de California a Arizona. En el camino también tuvimos la oportunidad de aprender sobre la planta nuclear más grande de los Estados Unidos cuando la pasamos entre la línea de California y Phoenix. Alrededor de las  ocho de la noche finalmente llegamos a nuestra destinación, BorderLinks en Tucson, Arizona.  BorderLinks es una organización no lucrativa que dé la oportunidad de aprender sobre la frontera. Cenamos aquí en BorderLinks y nos acomodamos en nuestros dormitorios. Aunque solo fue nuestro primer día y casi duramos todo el día en el camino fue un día productivo donde aprendimos nuevas cosas.

Llegamos con mucha anticipación para nuestra experiencia y yo siento mucha emoción para empezar con nuestro viaje. Mañana nos vamos para Nogales y es la parte que mas me impacto a mí el año pasado, no puedo esperar a ir otra vez es una experiencia que verdaderamente te abre los ojos y vez las cosas en diferentes perspectivas.

The new CLP Safe Space

Operation Safe Space: We have a Youth Center!

Almost six months ago, we had our first ever strategic planning session with CLP mentors, youth, and Advising Visionary Board members. One of the key goals brought up during this session was the desire for a CLP Youth Center: a safe space for community members, for a CLP office and for a CLP space.

This week, that goal became a reality as we put down a deposit and rent for a space in the Arlanza community. Located several houses down from the Arlanza Community Garden, our vision for this center includes film screenings, fresh meals, a meeting space, an office space, in-residence activists and interns, library and more. Though we are only currently in the renovation stage, we are excited at about all the possibilities that this CLP House of Hospitality will hold.

As such, we are currently searching for donations of supplies for the Youth Center, including:

  • Shelves that will be used for books, binders and materials
  • Bunk bed
  • Space heater
  • Fans
  • Fold-up chairs
  • Floor pillows
  • Desk chair
  • Hip-level tables
  • Office supplies (printer ink, computer paper, pens, pencils, folders)
  • Plastic bins (for art supplies)
  • Pots and plants
  • Donation of a sign for the front gates
  • White boards/cork boards

Please contact Samantha or Cheng if you have any donations.

A work party is planned for June 15 from 10AM-2PM and drop offs are welcomed all day. Please come ready to paint, clean and plant in our new home located at 8446 Cypress Ave. Parking is available in the back as well as on the street.

For more pictures of our new home, check out our Facebook photos!

Gardens for Good

Help CLP Win $15,000 for the Arlanza Community Garden

Child Leader Project is currently participating in Gardens for Good to be one of three organizations to win $15,000 in grant funds to support gardens. This money would help fund the Arlanza Garden by allowing the purchase of necessary equipment to keep the garden running, including produce storage, gardening tools, kitchen stations for food preparation, and many other pieces of equipment.

In 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture classified the Arlanza Community of Riverside as a food desert. It was called, “a low-income census tract where a substantial number or shares of residents have low access to a supermarket or large grocery.” As noted by CLP youth leaders, the community is filled with fast food restaurants and liquor stores without many healthy alternatives. Our goal as individuals invested in the Arlanza community is to work towards providing residents access to fruits and vegetables, while also encouraging a community of healthy choices. We want to make the land as productive and fertile as possible, while incorporating permaculture design and other sustainable practices that will increase garden productivity, and create a self-sustaining environment. This commitment to permaculture methods will further ensure the longevity of the garden as its designs integrate increasingly with the existing landscape.

Partnering with the Riverside Community Health Foundation, Growcology, students from University of California at Riverside and La Sierra University, and the Riverside Public Works Department, the Arlanza Garden can truly flourish under the guidance and support of a community. The garden will incorporate space for sharing food, in a safe environment that encourages human connection and togetherness, a feature not shared by all spaces in Arlanza. We do not want to provide a “social service,” instead we would rather promote social change. The community will come together to feed one another, which differs from a traditional food program.

Helping CLP win the Gardens for Good funds only takes a few easy steps:

  • 1) Log into your Facebook account.
  • 2) Click on this link for the CLP/Arlanza Garden entry.
  • 3) Share the link on your Facebook wall and encourage all your friends to vote.
  • 4) Make sure to vote daily. You can vote every day until June 30th.

Winners are selected as follows:

  • 1) Top 6 USA non-profits will enter the final round.
  • 2) These 6 will be reviewed by judges for (1) inspirational garden and (2) votes. Two USA organizations will be selected and each will receive $15,000 for their garden.

Spread the word! We can win this and we can Grow Arlanza!

CLP Hands

Sticking with Community

As a learner-leader in a transnational community organization led by youth and young adult volunteers, issues of accountability, power, miscommunication and conflict are inevitable and potentially damaging. While USA leaders inherit scripts that call upon them to be saviors, donors or service-providers of “Western development” and Indian leaders inherit the stories of colonialism, greed and Western wealth, the only possibility for collaboration on youth-led justice issues is the trust embodied in action that the people in the organizations are bound in common vision, self-reflection and uphold a commitment to the dynamic and difficult interests of all. To be transnational requires we reject the scripts we’ve inherited that call upon us to believe we only uphold the “interests of our own”” or that the only thing worth doing well is the thing we are (1) paid for or (2) graded on.

In this organization there are no grades and no payment. We work for no one. We self-organize. We have all chosen to be here. No youth or child is ever required to participate in CLP programs– this is probably one of our most important rules. It places the choice to engage and stay engaged firmly in the hands of the participant, a radical testimony to the belief in the basic power each of us poses to engage or disengage from the world around us. When it comes to organizational conflict or follow-through there is no one to tell us the way, make demands, police or dictate. To address conflict is a choice. To stay is a choice.

In 2012, a slowly developing conflict nearly cost us our partnership. Exchanges to both countries resulted in miscommunication, accusations of misrepresentation, anger about resource distribution and lingering fears of dissolving the partnership. Friendships between leaders that once gave the partnership its magic now caused its unraveling. None of us knew what to do next. How do you rebuild trust when you only see one another twice a year? How do you rebuild trust and commitment when all the models around you require someone to enforce the outcome, to win or lose? To police?

We all chose to take the risk. In the movie, “Best Most Exotic Magnolia Hotel,” the characters describe the way for British retirees to be in India: “India is like a wave. Resist it, and it will knock you over. Dive into it, and you’ll come out the other side.” Community, accountability and our life’s purpose is like this too. In our case, we purchased two plane tickets to India with our savings and spent two weeks together. The first week we spent with child leaders and the work we all felt called to do—the work that brought us together despite the scripts. The second we spent in dialogue. Who knows how many times we all wanted to walk away, bound in our own hurt and anger at one another and ourselves– I’m sure we each had many moments. However, our commitment was to the relationships we built, the vision we shared and the knowledge that we work together not because we have to, but because we want to, because we choose to.

If we can’t say “no” to each other and it be respected and upheld—our “yes” is meaningless. Our “yes” means something because our “no” means something.

We work and contribute and are accountable because we are choosing to be accountable to ours and each other’s gifts. We work together with intentionality, commitment to communication and accountability to gifts, sticking with it even when it is difficult and no one is holding it over our heads to do so.  Policing, dictating and grading is the old paradigm. We are creating a new one. In this one, we act, we give, we speak truth, we pay attention and we dive into the relationships around us and the unknown possibilities that come from vulnerable trust and commitment, knowing it is the only way to heal the world and to arrive on the other side.

– SLW – June 6, 2012 – Written for UULM’s Spiritual Activist Leadership Training (SALT), www.uulmca.org

Jovita Hernandez presents her research

Undergraduate Researcher Engages Questions of Youth Leadership

UC Riverside Junior, Jovita Hernandez, spent her quarter at UC Riverside as a participant in the Undergraduate Research in the Community (UGRC) program, a research community designed to assist students in partnering with community organizations to engage research questions and projects with meaningful results for the Riverside community. Jovita’s project focused on the effects of youth leadership on civic engagement, academics and personal development and its current status in the Arlanza area of Riverside.

In this paper, she shares her literature review—demonstrating youth leadership as a proven way for higher academic performance, self-esteem and life-long community engagement. She concludes with a proposal for research with organizations in the Arlanza area that engage youth in leadership programs for surveys and interviews with the goal to generate funding in support of authentic leadership roles for youth locally. Jovita also reflects personally on the experience of community-based research and the ways that the community became a classroom for her in understanding local issues and going beyond her “comfort zone.”

Jovita will be continuing her research with CLP this year as she administers surveys, interviews and collects data on the ways we can collaborate to create space for youth leadership in Arlanza.

Thank you for leading us, Jovita! Congratulations on completing your first quarter!

Access Jovita’s paper here.

Issac speaks at the Arlanza Community Garden

Youth Leader Wins Gates Millennium Scholarship

CLP is pleased to congratulate CLP Youth Leader, Isaac Morales’s acceptance to the Gates Millennium Scholars Program in New York University. Isaac has been a youth leader in Arlanza and at Norte Vista High School and currently serves as a Youth Council member to the Child Leader Project’s Executive Board.

New York University was a last minute decision for him. Isaac completed the application the day before the deadline, not knowing that this application would change his life forever. He was flown out for the weekend and when he got there, he knew “it was the place for him.” After his undergraduate years, he plans to attend law school either at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, or NYU Law school.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program aids Isaac by paying for part of his tuition. Having this scholarship, he no longer needs to take out a $15,000 loan, which is more than half of his parent’s annual income. Gates Millennium Scholars Program was made to help minority students achieve a greater future. It provides them the means to succeed in college and allows them to continue their studies without worrying financially. Isaac is the second Gates scholar from Novi, the last one being his idol who received it in 2009.

Issac Morales

Isaac is a graduating senior at Norte Vista High school. He joined the Child Leader Project last summer in hopes to restore the Arlanza Community Garden. The community garden is close to Isaac’s heart due to his involvement when he was younger. It was a place where he and “the community would come together and celebrate festivities.”

“Many see the one acre piece of land as just a garden, but I see it as much more than that. I see it as a place in which community members can come together and work in unison; I see it as a place in which the youth of the community can see that their neighborhood is improving; I see it as a place that gives the community a better name and defies all norms. Maybe I do not know the future and I am being too optimistic, but maybe I am not. Until the day that I am proved wrong I will not believe otherwise, but even then I will not give up the battle”.

Not only is he part of CLP, but he is also part of the Youth Grantmakers Committee of the Community Foundation of Riverside and San Bernardino. This is a group in which students from two counties join to apportion grants to various non-profits. He is now the lead of the public relations committee, which keeps the public informed about what is going on. This organization continues to make a difference in Isaac’s life.

Isaac’s experience in the International Baccaleaureate Program at NoVi (IB) also had an important impact. It led him to expand his limits and know that what he wanted in life is attainable. It allowed him to see that “the stigma given by where [he] lives and what race [he] is, does not matter.” The community of Arlanza and NoVi may be looked down upon by others, but Isaac continues to fight the stigma and prove to those individuals who are ashamed of the community that they are wrong.

“This community is looked down upon so much, rumors being spread out that it is a horrible place. It’s not. The community is amazing, it is vibrant, but every time someone puts us down because of the stigma a bit of our hope is lost, but replacing it is a firing passion in the youth of NoVi and Arlanza to overcome these stigmas and prove them wrong. Being from such an underprivileged area has made me exactly who I am and I am grateful for that”.

Again, congratulations for your amazing achievement. CLP is proud of you and will continue to support you with your endeavors. We wish you the best of luck at NYU!

Kristina with CLP India Group

Why Transnational Partnerships? Reflections from India

Why grassroots organizations choose to be transnational is not necessarily immediately apparent. Our work is local, indigenous in spark and focus. If the process and the product remains within one community, what is the purpose of bridging across the globe?

The answer is threefold.

First – Reality. We exist within our local community as a result of global movement. In Arlanza we are a community of immigrants. From Mexico, from Jordan, from El Salvador, from Russia. Our food is farmed by imported labor, flavoured by imported seasoning, and served on plates made in a factory we’ve never seen or know anything of. Our local lifestyles are the result of global trade contracts, business investments, political arrangements and human migration patterns. Our clothes are made in Mexico, Bangladesh, and China. But as young activists in Arlanza, our global footprint can’t just be one of resource consumption. If we can create spaces of empowerment in our community as a result of international bridges then we are responsible for creating spaces of empowerment internationally.

We build bridges because being local intersects with being global. Our identity is not rooted just in the Arlanza soil, its facilitated and constructed across US borders. To create a partnership with community in India makes us determinants in the process of international exchange, instead of just consumers or bystanders. We give one another power by acknowledging each others’ identities, supporting each others’ local projects, listening to each others’ visions of the future and sharing a common purpose.

This power is unique and potent because we decide how it will be used, because we have created it together without the involvement of corporations and governments. We partner because we believe in our communities and the inherent strength of aware, responsible and dedicated people to change the world we were given into the one we work towards. Nestle does not speak for us, does not speak for Arlanza even if we buy their tea from India. Instead we speak for ourselves. Arlanza youth and India youth speak to each other, determine together, and make their own footprints.

Second – Knowledge. “There’s more than one way to climb a mountain” is something you can realize when scaling by moonlight in Tiruvanamalai. An easier route is listening to youth propose resolutions to social justice problems. You cannot be a skeptic of any seemingly unwieldy project when you’ve been confronted with the ingenuity, prowess and sheer crackling energy in a room of young activists. The insight from our wide range of experiences makes “feasible” a weak substitute for “eminent.” When you expand the conversation from a room to two countries the range of insight increases exponentially. Our processes and experiences are innately different, meaning Arlanza will always have something to learn from Pondicherry. Pondicherry will always have something to learn from Arlanza. The more ways you can think of to climb a mountain, the more eminent your ascent.

Third – “Fun,” to quote our Executive Learner Samantha Wilson. International partnerships are empowering, educational, and, fun. By laughing across different languages and cultures we establish relationships with strangers who become friends rather than just colleagues. By sharing humor, ideas and stories we humanize our role as foreign representatives. The quality of our relationship with another community is directly correlated with the quality of our work. A relationship that is meaningful enables meaningful and successful projects. Our transnational partnership is not a duty fulfilled; it is a joy that we cultivate. Our communal space of empowerment is necessarily the space where we discover and enjoy each other as people.

We build bridges because it’s just more fun to work together. And it’s more fun when the process and impact are personal.

Kristina in traditional India dress

Kristina Frolova is a UCR alumna and Program Council member of CLP. She currently serves as a TYCL intern in India where she has worked since March 2012. She will be attending law school in the autumn. She hopes to return to her community in Russia where she will re-learn, and share, the best way to grow a watermelon. She can be reached at kristina@childleaderproject.org.

Vamil Raj wants to be an astronaut

Where Are They Now: A CLP Youth Leader from ’08 India Program

Four years ago, Samantha Wilson joined three of her peers, Eamon and Aniee, on a plane ride to Chennai, Tamil Nadu. They were bound for a community forty minutes outside of the main city of Tiruchirapalli– Valanadu Kaikatty, Tamil Nadu, India.

This would be the first CLP program– ever.

It was in Valanadu Kaikatty that the first CLP program in India began. Vidiyal Matriculation Higher Secondary School invited CLP to initiate the first five-day leadership program in August of 2008, hosting a camp at the school of 20 9th and 10th grade youth who had been selected by teachers as leaders in their classroom and communities.

In this first year, youth leaders from the school participated in international dialogue projects, service learning, higher education preparation, nonviolent communication training and leadership development. They volunteered at a local temple to clean steps, watched videos from the USA and made photography about their communities– all of which was compiled into a book by photographer and mentor, Eamon Conklin in 2009.

Four years later, these young leaders– the first CLP youth of all time– are now in college.

One youth leader, Manoj Vimal Raj, has stayed in contact with CLP leaders in the USA and India. He was a member of the very first leadership class, “The Lights of India,” and participated in CLP programming during its time at Vidiyal Matriculation Higher Secondary School. Upon matriculation, Vimal found CLP’s webpage and Facebook and reached out to participate in current programming.

Vamil Raj wants to be an astronaut

Vimal is now 18. He wants to become an Astronaut and will go to college in September to do his higher studies– with undergraduate in Engineering in Tamil Nadu and a secret hope to study for his post graduate at the University of California, Riverside (the Alma Mater of many CLP mentors).

His goal? ”I want to change the world more peaceful and to be united!”

What do you remember most about CLP programmes during your time at VMHSS in 2008 and 2009?

“CLP programs have been conducted to us during August 2008. I remember the international teleconference we did with the students at Riverside. We were so moved by your affection. The day we went out to St. Thomas Mountain Shrine to do social work off campus….. I can’t forget that. Ms. Aniee’s medical anthropology and Mr. Eamon’s photography were very memorable. That was the first time we ever learned professional photography.

Ms. Shirley’s classes in winter were based on the relationship between the community and leaders and Ms. Amala Devi’s colonialism classes made us to think about the colonized people’s sufferings during the time in when the French were in Pondicherry, India. We were give a brief lecture at JIPMER (Medical Research Institute) that other people at my school can’t even dream of. We really have a great time with you guys.”

Why is CLP important to youth in India or the USA, in your opinion? How did it impact you personally?

“CLP is important to youths in India/USA since we’re just humans. CLP helps to make us to become better/best leaders to assist the future world! Before CLP I too was a small boy learning all my lessons. But, after this, I began to notice the things which offend our community/people and began to think about how to rectify that. CLP has developed me to be a better leader I think.”

Vimal plans on serving as a leader and mentor of CLP programs in India with hopes to visit the USA for school in the future.

You can watch the video from CLP Vimal’s CLP program in 2008 on our Youtube: http://youtu.be/buqWjk_XuAA