Story: Memoirs of a 2011 Resource Leader
November 2011 marked the 27th year of Symposium, with a dedicated team of youth RLs leading 65 participants from across BC in this four-day overnight event, over the Remembrance Day long weekend. The Global Issues Symposium for Youth empowers young adults with tools to take action on critical global issues in their communities. It is built around challenging experiential activities that compel participants to learn and empathize through experiencing as opposed to just listening. These role plays and simulations encourage a personal exploration of how war affects people and of the daily realities of many people around the world.
Resource Leader Mitchell delivers a workshop at the Global Issues Symposium for Youth 2011.
As an RL, Symposium is quite a large commitment, in time, effort, and personal investment. Training and preparation starts in May and the final wrap up meeting happens around two weeks after Symposium, in late November. This includes learning how to facilitate a workshop and preparing a workshop on a specific issue that you will be presenting such as HIV/AIDS or International Humanitarian Law. The most important aspect, though, is the bond that you develop with the 10-15 other RL’s in your group. Working together to build and prepare for a 4 day crash course in Global Issues for High School students turns the RL’s from strangers into incredibly close friends.
Symposium itself is a blur of workshops, new faces and amazing people, and eye opening experiences that make you realise how many people actually care about global issues as much as you do. One of the first goals as an RL is to create a comfortable and accepting atmosphere to make sure that participants feel just fine being exactly who they are. As a participant I found this to be incredibly valuable because I was able to get to know people and become friends with them within the space of a day. All of the best friends that I have today I’ve met through Symposium or the Red Cross. Unfortunately, Symposium comes to an end, and you have to go back out into the world and say a temporary goodbye to everyone.
A popular expression with RL’s and past participants is the “Post-Symposium Blues”. The best way I’ve found to get through this is to keep in contact with everyone, and throw yourself into some sort of project that you’re passionate about. Participants in the past have gone on to do clothing fundraisers, Landmine awareness campaigns, and even benefit concerts. As an RL, one of my favorite things to do is see everything that comes out of Symposium through the participants, and to get involved where I can.
Symposium is what got me involved with the Red Cross, and has kept me involved ever since. Every year something comes out of it helps me learn about myself and motivates me to work harder. If you’re between the grades of 10 and 12, keep an ear open and sign up when you can, you won’t regret it. If not, try out to become an RL. Take my word for it, if you can plug into Symposium, you’ll find a place where you can teach, learn, and smile.