Hello from Youth Journalism International!
We have been awfully busy this winter with our normal educational activities, our annual journalism contest and much more. But perhaps what you'd find most interesting is a glimpse at our new Winter 2015 class of students, whom we've just brought on board.
Here's what we wrote to them recently:
Greetings and welcome! You live in 31 countries, including Afghanistan, Myanmar, Rwanda, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, the West Bank and Ghana. About one third of the group lives in the United States and about half are American citizens.
Two-thirds of you are teens and two-thirds of you are women.
About 80 percent of you have a Facebook account, 90 percent have a cell phone and half of you have a Twitter and/or an Instagram account.
Two-fifths of you speak something other than English at home. Among the other languages you primarily speak are Arabic, Bahasa, Bengali, Burmese, Hindi, Chinese, Filippino, Igbo, Korean, Malay, Thai, Pashto, Polish, Russian, Sinhala, Tagalog, Tamazight, Tamil, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Yoruba.
The cities with the most new members are Lahore, Pakistan and Chennai, India. There are multiple students from a number of places, though, including London, Melbourne, Long Island and Connecticut, where YJI is based.
In short, you represent a wide swath of the planet and come from a range of cultures and religions. Some of you are members of wealthy families in rich communities. Others live in cities or villages where many people are struggling.
One of the many remarkable things about Youth Journalism International is that you have the chance, if you seize it, to gain real insight into this world we share by making friends with one another. Make it part of your mission with YJI to build some personal connections with classmates who are near and far, from both similar and wildly different backgrounds. You have much to learn from them, and they can learn from you, too.
We are convinced that one of the most important things YJI does is to create connections that cross cultures and borders so that everyone involved can recognize our common humanity. That is the path to peace.
Through YJI, we have made friends in places we will most likely never see. And we've met scores of young people who have made their way to our door or to somewhere not too distant. Our lives have been enriched more than we can say. It's hard to imagine the past 21 years without the young people we've come to know, including many alumni who are working as doctors, teachers, social workers, lawyers and, yes, even journalists. We are so proud of them all.
We can't wait to get to know you, too.
Since then, we've actually added a few more students to you can add New Zealand, Gambia, South Africa and Russi to the list of places where we have new students. It's amazing, really, that all these students are eager to join us.
In truth, there are always many more than our tiny organization can possibly cope with. But we do what we can do, relying heavily on volunteers and stretching every dollar we have. I hope you know that you have made a real difference in the lives of young people in many lands, giving them a sense of their place in the world and the confidence to speak out and stand tall. There's a reason so many of them have gone on to college and careers that amaze us (despite, in many case, coming from low-income or splintered homes). You've made that possible for those who came before and, we're confident, for these new students who just getting started.
By the way, if you look at our blog, you'll find pieces by at least four of the newcomers already. We don't waste time here at YJI!
Thank you for making it all possible.