A Call for Youth Leadership and Action

Raymond Cen, InIt '12

After fighting apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela said “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” This quote has always resonated with me, especially during my my own personal journey through life. Twenty years ago my father came to this country with nothing; no possessions and no education. To this day, he works a dangerous job at Chinese restaurant and does not come home until 3 AM. For me, YWCA Boston’s Youth Leadership Initiative – InIt – was an opportunity to receive an education that my father never had.

As a member of the InIt 2012, I have had a chance to  reflect on my experience and truly appreciate what it has meant to me. It began a little over a year ago. I walked into YWCA Boston for an interview and that moment changed my life forever. By participating in InIt, I was introduced to various problems that I never thought about before, things that affect people negatively on a daily basis, yet ignored as a societal issue.

Specifically, one activity stands out to me; an ableism workshop with disabled students from the Cotting School. Ableism is the discrimination of people with disabilities. In order to understand the flaws of my community, I experienced them firsthand. As I walked around Boston on a scavenger hunt, I discovered that there are many inaccessible areas. For example, the button to open the door automatically at Back Bay Station was broken. Yet, these problems are ignored because the majority of us are not affected.

InIt taught me valuable lessons that I will carry with me throughout my life. I learned the power of leadership and taking action. I realized that I could make a significant impact on my community. Most importantly, I learned the importance of collective action. Anything can be accomplished, but only if we work together.

On a personal level, InIt has allowed me to understand the true value of being a human, as I created a deeper connection with myself and my surroundings. Because of my father’s sacrifices, I am the first person in my family to go to college. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know one thing; wherever I go in life, I will always apply what I’ve learned at InIt.

 YWCA Boston’s InIt program is now accepting student nominations and applications for it’s 2013-2014 program year. All applications are due May 31. Please click here for details.