Today was the last day of Citizenship Tour 2018 and it ended with students having the opportunity to talk to, and hit a few points with, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator Gillibrand was an inspiring meeting for our students to end on, as she reminded us to work hard to make change and to stay true to our core values, even in the face of opposition.
As I reflect on Citizenship Tour 2018, I realize that it was was even more of a success than I could possibly have imagined when it began last Tuesday.
This is the case because our students did more than talk about making change– they actually made change by forming meaningful relationships. In these relationships students supported, empowered, and respected each other in ways that left me feeling inspired and humbled. Students openly talked about their differences, learned from them, and came to truly love one another. Through these relationships, our students provided each other with the safety net needed to allow each other to grow, and grow they did.
In some way, each and every student stepped outside of their comfort zone– whether it was asking an important and challenging question when they were nervous, riding the subway when they’d never been before, or talking honestly about a personal challenge that they struggle with, every student took a risk and felt the growing pains that come with change, all because they knew that when they turned around, they would find themselves among friends.
We often think of engaged citizenship as something that requires large efforts, lots of money, or power. However, this Citizenship Tour showed how being an engaged citizen often starts simply with listening, affording every individual the dignity and respect that they deserve, and being a friend.
It has been my pleasure to be the Education and Communications Director for Citizenship Tour 2018. I look forward to seeing what our students, and the students of future Citizenship Tours, will accomplish with all that they have learned here.