The following is a reflection piece written by two of our Summer Youth Workers, and former clients, who coordinated and oversaw our innovative TechSpark program. In it Agan Leyli and Shahal Ahmed take the opportunity to speak on how their time at Access Alliance, as youth clients and later as employees, have impacted them. Both have been an invaluable addition to the youth team, their time with us made even more meaningful by their start as youth clients:
One day as I got off the bus, after school with my friends, they decided to take me to a different ‘’chilling’’ spot. From that day onwards, I have not regretted going there once. This place is Access Alliance. From being a youth client to volunteering at many of the programs to being a youth employee feels almost the same, because the place has never been more welcoming.
The transition to working here came with a little bit more responsibilities and the perk of getting an insider view of the organization and how things come together. Never have we ever thought there were this much work put into running a single program. Organizing TechSpark, a technology camp for youth, has permitted us to understand the value of outreaching, mentoring and organization. Also, helping out with other youth programs, such as Culture Jam, and Youth R Us, allowed us to appreciate the responsibilities and the great deal of work which come with organizing such programs. Both of us being design students at University, we were able to add value by taking what we learned at school and by designing posters and flyers for different programs at Access Alliance.
Working with TechSpark was a unique experience. The hands-on experience working with children brought different challenges. We learnt that you need a great deal of patience and compromise when dealing with them. Not everything will flow as smoothly as you imagined so learning to adjust to the atmosphere and your setting while simultaneously being able to follow your set plan is crucial. At the end of the day, we loved seeing all the hard work of planning come to life; from outreach and to just coming in everyday assisting the children create their apps.
Being able to understand the real world aspect of a full-time job, managing assignments handed to us, understanding the significance of being transparent and communicative about our workflow are going to be essential skills for us in the future.
This was possible for us because Access Alliance has always been a welcoming place to be, whether for chilling, learning, volunteering or working. We have made many memories and are grateful for our time spent here.