I attended We Day with the GLmetowe team on Thursday October 2nd. It was my eighth time attending We Day and it was a fantastic day as usual. We heard from amazing speakers like Natalie Panek, Chris Hadfield, Spencer West, Katie Couric and Kweku Mandela as well as saw performances from Hedley and Kardinal Official among others. I have had the chance to see the We Day movement evolve and grow over the past 8 years and it never fails to inspire me. I felt that it was a good time to reflect on how I got involved with Free the Children and how We Day was my spark to be a leader and to be a change maker.
In seventh grade, my guidance councillor asked me if I would be interested in going to an event called We Day that a charity called Free the Children was organizing. He told me to write a letter explaining why I was interested in going to We Day by the end of the week. In my letter I wrote that I learned about injustices in the world such as child labour in grade 6. I also wrote about my cousin who had been doing medical missions to Peru, which was something I admired and was inspired by.
I was one of the students chosen to attend We Day with my school. I remember on the bus ride to the Ricoh Coliseum, none of us knew what we were going to see. We were expecting a day full of speeches that would not be very exciting, but, we were still interested to see how the day would unfold. When we arrived, we started to feel the energy building and we were getting more excited. When Craig and Marc stepped on to the stage the entire arena went wild. The first time you hear them speak is a truly amazing experience. The passion that they have for the cause is so inspiring. We were much more excited about the day after they spoke. The day was full of fantastic speakers such as Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, Irshad Manji and Michel Chikwanine, a former child solider from the Democratic Republic of Congo (who is my favourite speaker that I have heard at We Day). By the end of the day we were all so pumped. On the bus ride home we were abuzz with ideas about how we could fundraise and tell people all about the work that Free the Children does. Together we started the Free the Children group at our middle school.
Fast forward to grade nine, I started high school at Monarch Park Collegiate, which was very heavily involved with Free the Children and Me to We. Minga (the Me to We club) was the first club I joined in High School. That was also the first year that We Day was held at the Air Canada Center, it had grown tremendously in those 2 years. That year a whole new level of energy existed in the arena. It was motivating to see so many young people ready to make a change in the world. In grade nine I had the opportunity to participate in the Take Action Workshop Series facilitated by Me to We. It provided me with knowledge and understanding about how to host initiatives for awareness and fundraising. After that I was asked to be the president of Minga, a role I held until grade 12. For We Day 2012 and 2013, I had the opportunity to volunteer as a crowd pumper (a person who gets the attendees excited and answers any and all questions during the day – imagine being a d-frosh for a day). It was a very fulfilling experience to give back to the community that had made such a difference in my life and it was especially exciting to see the students and teachers who were attending We Day for the first time. Their faces are priceless.
My interest, involvement and passion led me to apply to the International Studies program and led me to co-found the GLmetowe group at Glendon with Bryan. Doing work with Free the Children allowed me to develop my leadership skills and become more confident as a leader and as a public speaker. I have had many experiences to connect with others in a positive way.
Thus far my experiences with GLmetowe have been successful. The international focus of Glendon lends itself to a greater awareness of social justice issues and has helped our club grow. It is a good feeling to be amongst likeminded students who are motivated to help fellow members of our local and our global community. This is the essence of Me to We.
GLmetowe has exciting events happening this year, the next one being a photo campaign where we are encouraging participants to donate non-perishable food items which will be donated to the North York Harvest Food Bank in conjunction with Glendon Roots and Shoots.
Song of the Week: Hideaway (Cover) – Ben Howard