If you are an incoming student or mentor participant for our 2011-12 Service Year – Congratulations! This year set a new record for the number of applications. We have more students on the waiting list than ever in our 12 years in operation. If you are one of them, don’t miss General Orientation. We fill any drops with students who are in attendance.

At this point, everyone has gotten their letters, and you are wondering? What is this all about? A whole afternoon?

B O R I N G. Well, it is anything but. The feedback we’ve received from our annual General Orientation meetings is like this: “Wow. That went by fast.” “There was so much information. I was at the edge of my seat.” “I was pumped. Now I’m really pumped.”

General Orientation is our opportunity to tell you all about what to expect from the Service Year: locally and internationally. It’s the first time you will feel the incredible positive vibe that occurs when 200+ service leaders assemble in one place, and catch the vision of what it means to give back, to be part of a service community, to really put your mind to it, and make good things happen for you and for others in need.

You’ll meet for the first time people you will know and remember for the rest of your life. You are embarking on a service journey and each of them is going with you. All you know about each other at General Orientation is ‘this is good person or she or he would not be attempting this challenge.’

Be sure to arrive early because there is a football game at the University of Utah that day, and traffic and parking could be a problem. Though there is a parking lot across from the Warnock Engineering Building, we have been advised to use the lot to the north and take the short walk over. If you will be under 18 at the time of your international travel, students: don’t forget to bring at least one parent! That’s mandatory. The whole meeting is mandatory and for good reason.

Youthlinc Executive Director and Founder Judy Zone will speak very briefly about the mission and strategies Youthlinc uses to create lifetime humanitarians. She’ll speak later in the Opening Session about the nuts and bolts of your payment schedule and fundraising for your international service trip.

Youthlinc Local Service Director, Julia Wee, will give you an overview of the local service which earns each student — regardless of family income — the final payment. If you do not complete the required local service, you don’t go. Good news though: In 12 years and well over 1,000 student participants, only two have not completed their local service hours, and so were dismissed. We are confident you will be one of the 99.98% who have so much fun helping others who really need your help.

Youthlinc International Service Director, Miriam Kramer, will review the wide variety of service activities each of our teams plans and implements in all five of our international sites: small impoverished villages in Kenya, Guatemala, Peru, Thailand, and Cambodia. Miriam will briefly discuss the role all of you will take in all this service: construction, vocational training, education, microenterprise, community health, cultural exchange.

Before you know it, students will be at our Service Fair where ten local service agencies will be waiting to tell you their stories and hopefully enlist your help. Students can also take this time to review our 2012 Local Service Directory: more than 120 service sites statewide recommended by Youthlinc alums for our incoming groups.

Or students can attend an overview of the Youthlinc flagship local service program, Real Life in SLC. If you live in or near Salt Lake City, this three afternoon a week teen refugee mentoring program might be your main service site this school year. Our student volunteers plan and implement the curriculum of life skills, financial literacy, health & hygiene, English language practice, and lots of fun cultural exchange activities.

Parents will attend a session with the parents of past Youthlinc students. In past years, incoming parents have reported that this session lowers their blood pressure significantly 🙂

Mentors attend a session designed especially for them, led by some very seasoned team leaders. As mentoring is a critical aspect of the Youthlinc Service Year, mentors: don’t miss this session. You will learn a lot and understand the tasks before you. This is a student leadership program, so we’ll go over some of the strategies you can use to become a great delegator, resource, cheerleader, guide, and constructive helpmate along the road to young humanitarianism.

Last but hardly least, each team will meet on their own to view a slide show of the international site, and get a peak at what the whole trip will look like. Full of photos from past years’ trips, all participants get the flavor of the country, culture, and service in store. You will also meet the amazing team and alum leaders who will facilitate every aspect of this service journey. So exciting!

If there is time, you’ll get to know your teammates a bit, but don’t worry, you have monthly meetings, starting in December to work on that.

We couldn’t feel luckier to kick off our 13th Service Year, and we couldn’t feel luckier to have you all a part of it. Welcome. Enjoy. Savor. Get your service face on. We can’t wait to meet you!

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