Applications, sponsorship season, and General Orientation are behind us. Our six Service Year teams (Cambodia, Guatemala, Kenya, Peru, Thailand, and our new site, Vietnam) and our Friends & Family Team to Vietnam are meeting in December to begin the local service, international service planning, and excitement of Youthlinc’s fourteenth year of operation.
It is a year of breaking records: a record 170 students are enrolled on our Service Year teams, with 46 mentors (adult professionals) guiding them. Since no student can be accepted without a sponsor, we have been able to raise $110,000 in new sponsorship funds in October, and we will utilize $50,000 in sponsorship funds raised at our Benefits – for a record total of $160,000 in sponsorship investment in the service ethic of our student participants.
These students will also break the record with a minimum of 15,000 hours of required local service contributed this school year. Students earn their sponsorships through their local service. Each Youthlinc student will write a thank you note to their sponsor in December, the beginning of what we hope will be a great relationship through communication about our intense – and intensely rewarding – Service Year.
Our Friends & Family team to Vietnam this year is also our largest ever: 40. More than half of the team members are alums, so this team is truly meeting its original purpose: to allow an additional international service leadership experience for our alumni and to allow students and mentors who cannot participate in our Service Year (for whatever reason) to have a quality international service experience. Friends & Family teams plan all the service activities that our Service Year teams do, but no local service is required. No student sponsorships are available for participation in this team.
At December team meetings, participants get to know each other better, learn more about the international site, and the tasks ahead in each of our international service committees: education, community health, microenterprise, vocational training, cultural exchange. If they haven’t already, they will be selecting the committee on which they will have a leadership role.
Another very important part of our December meetings for students in our Service Year: selecting their main local service site where they will contribute at least half their required hours, participating in hands-on service with a genuinely needy population. This year, the service of each student on every Service Year team will be celebrated on our new Local Service Blog. Every team meeting will include a focus on and reflection upon the local service participants are doing.
In January, teams have a social and a service project. In February, committees start delegating, researching, and planning their international service. March is our Traveling Healthy Clinic at the University of Utah Travel Clinic – an opportunity for all participants to learn about recommended vaccinations and other issues of staying healthy in an underdeveloped country. April and May team meetings provide additional opportunities for committees to put the final touches on their international service planning, practice their lessons, and receive feedback from their team members. During these months, teams often plan fundraisers for project funds in-country.
Before they know it, the June or July packing meeting is happening. Team members bring all donated items, from shoes to medical, hygiene, dental, and school supplies and pack them in Youthlinc duffels to bring with them on their international service trips to impoverished villages.
The Service Year goes quickly, mostly because people are busy doing so much good locally and internationally. Every Service Year provides its own unique adventures, but many things are always the same: the culture of service, the incredible local and international service accomplishments, and the transformation of a group of strangers who grow to become lifelong friends by becoming lifetime humanitarians together.
|Youthlinc Peru 2013 Service Year team|