This blog was written by Dhristi Shah, who is currently undertaking a placement at UK Youth. For more information about UK Youth Voice, please go here.
I cannot believe that the past two months have gone by so quickly. It feel as if just yesterday I started as an intern at UK Youth, trying to remember everyone’s names. When I first applied to the Boston University study abroad program in London, I was looking forward to a semester of gaining new perspectives, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures. As an International Studies student, I was just eager to see how people on the other side of the world lived.
In my time here at UK Youth, I was able to take part in many different activities and events. I was able to attend the Money for Life Awards ceremony, various talks in the Houses of Parliament, and a workshop that challenged the youth sector to think in a more asset-based way. And while, these different events opened my eyes to the amazing achievements and difficulties of young people in the UK, the #BIPAYouth residential weekend in Edinburgh truly allowed me to integrate myself with the young people and get their take on politics across the nations.
Way back in my first week
I was given the task of analyzing the data from the peer-research survey created by the young people in the BIPA (British Irish Parliamentary Assembly) project funded by Erasmus+. They had gotten together in September, then November to discuss policy calls that they believed were relevant to the young generation today. They did an amazing job. The young advocates were able to get more than 400 responses from all around the UK and Ireland. As I analyzed the survey, I discovered a lot of new information and read many eye-opening experiences. This survey not only gave me insight to the problems young people face every day, but also shined a light on their aspirations as well.
Analyzing this survey really set the foundations ahead of the residential weekend in Edinburgh.
During the Edinburgh weekend, I met many new faces and young people of all ages. The residential gave me the chance to talk with the young people about the findings from the survey, and their opinions on the current political atmosphere. Conversations ranged from Brexit, to policy calls, to differences between the UK and US and even Michael Jackson. I found it very interesting that while some young people were very passionate about Brexit, others were starting to move on to other issues facing the UK.
One thing that I loved during this weekend, was the youth involvement in every step.
Allowing the young people to take a lead in how their survey results were distributed is a unique concept for me. Often, organizations tend to only include young people in the initial stages but then adults overlook them through key decision-making stages. It was incredible to see how the promotion ideas were converted into an action plan within a couple of hours. The enthusiasm of the young people for their project was amazing to see!
In my time here at UK Youth, I believe that I have learned a lot about different ways the organization supports and develops young people. More importantly I have been able to come across so many new perspectives that have made me think of the youth sector in a new light.
Coming into the internship, I just wanted to better understand the lives of people on the other side of the world. UK Youth fulfilled my wish and took it one step further by encouraging me to work and interact with wonderful young people. I am very sad to be leaving but can definitely say that I have loved my experience here at UK Youth.
As I go back to the States, I want to advocate for involving young people in decision-making. Young people need to participate and have their voices heard and I believe that this is crucial to bringing about change.