This is a third entry in a series to spotlight the contributors within our network for the gift exchanges that keeps this network alive and kicking.
Jasmine Mwanaisha Ali has been a vibrant member of YSI's community for almost two years, since she attended the Grounding and Growing gathering in Spring 2013. She later joined our core team, where she regularly hosted meetings and helped to design Collaboration Camp. As in all things, she knew how to reliably show up in her most full-hearted, playful way to open up possibility for groups to explore the challenge at hand. We are so proud that Jasmine will be taking the next step in her journey as engagement coordinator with The New Mentality and member of the Premier's Advisory Council on Youth Opportunities.
Although we are sad that she can no longer be an active member of our community, we are humbled by all that she has offered. In that Spirit, she has written the following reflection on her growth through the collaborative and the promise of maintaining a heart-led practice for social change that starts with our immediate relationships. Thanks, Jazz, and safe travels!
It was Spring 2013, the end of my first year in College. I woke up and checked my email to find an email from my professor that for once was not school related. The subject line read, “You might be interested in this!” Now I was curious. I have had many great professors but none of them ever sent me opportunities about things I might be interested in.
In the email I found an invite about grounding ourselves and growing together. I read about amplifying and accelerating conditions for youth-led organizing. And I saw pictures of really happy people doing really fun things. So I replied to my prof, saying “This is DEFINITELY something I’m interested in.”
That’s where my involvement with YSI started. I went to this first gathering on my own, unsure of what to expect. What I found was a community of change-makers as eclectic as it gets.
I witnessed a community willing to expand its inner circle by making room for everyone and their gifts. I experienced the beauty of connecting to people from places I had never heard of -- being exposed to so many new people, experiences and opportunities that would have happened otherwise. We shared in our troubles and triumphs, and came to realize that we weren’t as different as I thought we were.
It took some patience to acclimatize and shift my perspective: to see that the process was just as important as the outcome, and sometimes even more so.
If I were to describe the YSI in one word it would be LEARNING. I never stopped learning when I was a part of this.
I will admit though, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. I had never witnessed the ‘YSI way’ before, at least in the beginning. Things operate in a really fluid way. It was a little bit crunchy. It took some patience to acclimatize and shift my perspective: to see that the process was just as important as the outcome, and sometimes even more so.
My time with the YSI stretched me, ultimately making me stronger and more flexible. What I found was a nest: a home base that allowed me to freely learn and explore new concepts. My personal growth was validated as important to the collaborative. This in turn allowed me to give back more of myself. I could have the conversations my soul had been itching to have. I could speak openly, knowing that all of me was welcome at the table. I learned how to work within complexity by seeing the difference between facilitating and hosting social change. I got to practice.
What I found was a nest: a home base that allowed me to freely learn and explore.
It has been a beautiful journey. As I move forward on my life’s path I will retain nothing but fond memories, strong connections, and a repertoire of skills gleaned from the wise YSI family.