Plant the Seed

Posted 7 December 2010 12:00 AM by Lucy Ye

Cross-posted from Covering the Mic Youth Leadership Network.

As I interviewed Derrick Ashong at the Citi Performing Arts Center, Derrick managed to continuously wow me with his beliefs and words of inspiration. Having been through an array of experiences, Derrick had an incredible sense of duality and perception of how the world can change for better. Derrick hoped to “convey to the students here their ability to also take that seed of desire to make the world better for themselves and for others.” With great enthusiasm and energy, Derrick said, “If I help to spread, fertilize, and cultivate those seeds, then more of us can make a difference. I don’t think that we’re in the day of age where we need any given leader to come and save us. I think we have the power and will to create the world that we want.” By the end of the interview, it was clear that every word he spoke resonated with me. Thrilled to see him in action, I followed Derrick to his master class and saw how three mere hours would be enough to make some kind of difference. Within a hundred and eighty minutes, he was able to transform and enlighten the minds of eight young people. Ten thousand and eight hundred seconds later, everyone’s ideas were combined and incorporated into a powerful letter. As Derrick described, the letter would address three important questions: “What are the biggest issues facing youth in Massachusetts today? What would they like the government-elect to do to address those issues? What they believe they can do themselves to address those issues?” It took a single afternoon for Derrick and eight All-star Interns at the Citi Performing Arts Center to devise an effective letter to the government-elect, asking for help to improve the communities around them. The letter states:

Dear Governor,

Would you walk through the projects? Would you want your kids exposed to drug dealers, drive by’s, violence, ignorance, and drug-addicts? Would you want your kids walking to school every day past memorials for dead children, knowing that one day it could possibly be theirs? If the answer is no, we want to make you an offer you can’t refuse. We are going to establish a youth-led Community Program that will change our society for the better by inspiring youth through the arts. This program will better our citizens by encouraging peace, social tolerance, community involvement, and pride. In other words, it will make a difference in the lives of youth people by helping their generation as well as the next, to develop positive goals for their lives. We can be the seed of this change. We are going to identify a site for our pilot program and recruit youth and adults to participate. Young people need someone who is creative, academic, imaginative, passionate, dedicated, organized, inspiring, and determined. Someone who has been there... someone like me. We want you to host a fundraiser for our pilot program, to be personally involved in it, and to be an advocate for the work we are going to do together. We know you’ve got a hard job and the state is facing a lot of challenges. But if we don’t help you, who will? We will work with you to make this happen.

Not only was I touched by Derrick’s positive outlook on our ability to make a significant impact on the world, I was also humbled by the different stories of each individual youth at the master class. Emanue Silva’s story particularly stood out to me. Having been exposed to poor influences early on in his life, he managed to use theater to ignore the obstacles and focus on the potential he has for success. Through performing in a Shakespeare competition, he was able to use that as a form of encouragement to not involve himself in reckless acts; instead, he chose to focus on his education and realized his love for the performing arts. There is no doubt that Emanue’s story of changing for the better amazed me. If nothing else, I have seen how easy and necessary it is to pull one’s ideas together and speak up or better yet, take action for the things we believe in.

Lucy Ye is the Youth Reporter for Covering the Mic. She is also an All-Star Intern for Citi Performing Arts Center.

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