Over the past few weeks I have been able to meet teens from all over St. Lawrence County. I have seen the needs that they have in order to better themselves and how Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) aims to reach their needs. What I like most about CCE Is that they are open to everyone and they make sure to make the environment is a safe space for everyone. This can be seen through their actions of treating everyone equally and not discriminating by age, gender, ability or religious affiliation. I have seen first-hand how the principle of fair treatment to all is put to use during my time at CCE.
There was one instance where a teen walked into one of employment readiness sessions that I was hosting and her mom let us know that she would need help with reading and writing because those are the areas that she struggles in. Although most of the session was made out of materials that the teens would have to read and write about we still accepted her without hesitation. As we went through the employment session together, I realized that although she may struggle in a few areas, she is strong in many more areas. Her confidence, willingness to learn and her resilience was inspiring. Sometimes if she did not get something the first time she would ask for clarification and would be sure to take the worksheet home in order to study it for the next session. Whenever we engaged in a group discussion she would never back down from trying to answer and to make sure that she was adding to the conversation. Even if there was an activity that she was nervous about she did not back down or say that she couldn’t do it. Her energy is what made our learning experience worthwhile. After the session on employment she signed up for an interview to work the St. Lawrence County fair. Her interview happened to be the first interview that I ever hosted. When her interview was over I felt overjoyed because she did an amazing job, and I could tell that she studied everything that she took home to put her best effort into making sure that she was successful. It was such an empowering feeling to see a young woman work hard and achieve what she set out to achieve.
The day that I interviewed her could not have been any better and it is all because instead of rejecting her we accepted her and we accommodated to her needs. This allowed her experience to be the best it could possibly be. It all comes back to acceptance and including all people no matter what the case may be. If this experience has taught me one thing it would be to never let yours peers underestimate themselves. We should lift each other up.. I wish that one day everyone can have an experience like I did with this incredible, brave and diligent young woman. The impact that she has left on me will remain a lasting impression on my heart and mind forever. This experience will remind me that everyone should be entitled to a safe space in order for us all to be the best we can be.