MVYLI Welcomes Brazilian Youth to Youth Leadership Summit
On May 30 the Martha's Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative held a lunch at MVRHS to invite Brazilian youth to its annual Youth Leadership Summit.
Last fall, MVYLI youth invited Brazilian youth leader Ana Carvalho to speak at their Multicultural Assembly with Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Ana shared her experience of being a Brazilian student at MVRHS. "It's an honor to be here today to represent the Brazilian community," said the MVRHS graduate (2008). "When I was a student, there was a lot of tension."
This year, MVYLI youth decided to reach out to more Brazilian youth. Lucy Norris invited Lucas Amirans to join MVYLI. A talented member of the Minnesingers, Lucas was interested in international marketing. For MVYLI's Job Shadow Day, he was matched with Richard Paradise at MV Film Society.
Sivana Brown then nominated Marcelle Alves, a 9th grade honor student who aspires to become a lawyer. "When I came to MVYLI my first thought was the Brazilian youth on Martha's Vineyard should be involved in a great program like this too," says Marcelle. "It really helps me have dreams and care for my future if I am supported by other people who believe in me and can help me accomplish my dreams for the world."
"What better way to do this than by organizing a great lunch with the Brazilians and the members of MVYLI to show our support for them -- and show them what there is to offer for each and every one of them," she thought. Since Sivana aspires to become an event planner, she helped Marcelle make a plan. She quickly got to work, inviting Tropical Restaurant to be a sponsor, creating a beautiful flier and passing it out at school. She met with Vice Principal Matt Malowsky, shared it with her special teacher at West Tisbury Marcy Klapper, and churches. She joined MVYLI Visioneers meeting with Bella El-Deiry, Mary Ollen, Isabel Smith and Sivana Brown. Then she made a list of 10 people she thought would come. There were 30 people at the lunch! "I was amazed at how many people came!"
Bella, Mary, Isabeland Sivana joined Marcelle in welcoming everyone and shared their personal experiences with MVYLI. Summit Director Josue Cruz gave an inspiring speech of his journey from a 14 year old from the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico who had no hope for a better future to a 24-year-old second year law student. After the lunch, Marcelle was thrilled to receive such a great response from so many youth asking questions about MVYLI and the Summit -- "I want to be a part of everything MVYLI has to offer." Marcelle said, "Everyone loved Josue!"
Twelve Brazilian youth applied to be a delegate to the Youth Leadership Summit held later this month. . In this weeklong intensive leadership training youth (ages 15-21) envision their personal, professional, island and planetary goals. People are invited to nominate Vineyard youth.
When Marcelle read the MVYLI Applications, she was hopeful. Some Brazilian youth dream of becoming doctors Taynara Goncalves, Beatriz Da Costs and Glendson Dasilva, dentists like Cerena Guimares, or a language translator, teachers, pastry chef, and Renata Lacerda who wants to be a lawyer like me!" She also saw how some Brazilian youth were limited in their thinking about their dreams for their lives and their island. When asked: "What are the biggest challenges facing young people on the Island?" they said drugs and alcohol, low expectations, lack of role models, and not being heard. One of the biggest challenges they said is the lack of connection between people of different cultures.
"I want to go far in life, I don't want to be limited because I'm an immigrant," say Karem. "I have a lot to offer, I'm just shy and don't get many opportunities." These young people care about Martha's Vineyard and are involved with community service projects from Young Brothers to Men, YMCA, MV Hospital, Portuguese Festival, translating for other Brazilians, to beach clean-ups, school gardens and Earth Day.
"I got the gift of having them come to me and that was the best," said Marcelle. "I know I have much more to do and that was just the start."
"There are so many stereotypical things about Brazilians and other cultures - but that doesn't mean they are true," said Marcelle, "We can be more than people expect. I'm really convinced we have a lot to give to the world. I want there to be more than just 2 or 3 Brazilians in a graduating class to go to college," "I want every Brazilian to go to college and I want to help them get there!"
"This lunch was just the beginning and there is more work to do," says Marcelle. "I also know every culture will begin to shine at MVRHS if we continue to respect and celebrate our diversity."
"With the island being a meld of so many diverse cultures, I think it's so important to celebrate and open up to every single young person, " said Isabel. "The Brazilian lunch was a step in that direction! And amazing food to boot!" Mary Ollen said, "It was amazing to hear all of the inspiring dreams of the students who attended the luncheon. I look forward to hearing more about their aspirations and to helping their dreams become realities. The lunch was a huge success and I am so glad that I got to be a part of it!"
Ana Carvalho just graduated from Tufts University. As a MV Vision Fellow she was involved with the Peer Outreach Program and CONNECT with MV Community Services working with the Brazilian community. "I hope you will learn to appreciate Brazilian culture. Your Brazilian peers have a lot to offer."
Marcelle and Lucas are now meeting with Brazilian youth delegates to finalize their applications and determine which ones will be selected this year. They are also developing a musical dance performance to contribute to the Summit's Cultural Sustainability Program.
"I know that Brazilian Youth will soon began to shine in a brighter way at MVRHS!" says Marcelle.
MVYLI's Annual Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development is held from June 22-28 For more Information: www.mvyli.org