Date: 14 Sep 2007
Author: Ms Cheryl Boodram – Trinidad and Tobago
Goodnight Ladies and gentlemen, for many here tonight, this journey started five years ago, for others like me, the journey started almost two and a half years ago. At this time, therefore, I think it apt that we can finally say that we have endured to the end... As I start, I would like to ask all of my colleagues to stand and once again ask the audience to give them a round of applause. I must confess that my colleagues contributed to my achieving such success today. As a team we shared, cared and provided the environment for each other to excel according to our fullest potential. Therefore, while I am thankful for having been conferred with such a remarkable award, I wish to categorically state that this success must be shared with all my colleagues.
We are here today because we had a vision for ourselves and the young people of our country; we are here today because the people who shared our passion for young people became our colleagues who sat next to us in class and who encouraged us through the times we thought we could not go on. Our pursuit of knowledge and our heart for young people have led us to this journey in our life.
Marcus Aurelius in his “Meditations” encourages us to: “Observe constantly that all things change and that the nature of the Universe loves nothing more than to change the things which are old and make new things”. The CYP Diploma in Youth Development Work has shown me how true this statement is when working with young people. My very understanding of youth has been challenged and I now see youth more accurately- as a group that is dynamic and mutli-faceted. As I am on the topic of change, I must say, as Youth Workers, we have been changed by the Universe of young people, by their potential, energy and aspirations. Our studies in Youth in Development Work have also changed us. We are no longer that same person that started the programme. By opening our minds to new approaches and shifting paradigms we have been encouraged to increase our understanding of youth and their involvement in the process of their development. My understanding of my responsibility as a Youth Worker has been increased and instead of thinking that youth development and welfarism were synonyms, I now understand that young people are the architects of their own future and have the innate capacity to create a vision for themselves.
Recently I have heard many people comment that Youth Work is not glamorous. Tonight I wish to make one definitive statement on this topic: that youth work is a profession which does not aim at bringing glory to the professionals involved in it, but to the client target who benefit. The glamour is bestowed on every young person that acquires a voice to improve the situation around him; each young woman who rises above oppression; the young person living with HIV/AIDS who challenges stereotype and discrimination daily and the young person who gets involve in processes which create mechanisms which promote the status of his/her peers. Youth work aims at igniting the spark of advocacy, networking, desire for growth and acts as a facilitative mechanism which creates an enabling environment that promotes youth in their own development. Youth work professionals are agents of change who are passionate about the young people with whom they come into contact, the people who believe that young people possess the latent capabilities to address issues which affect them and that youth are not the leaders of tomorrow but in fact the leaders of today.
If this is not glamour, then I challenge your definition and measurement of glamour and wish to argue that it is the very definition of glamour which creates so many of the problems affecting our youth.
To Our Local Co-ordinator Mr. Alexander Riley, you must be commended for so many of us graduating here today. Your student- centred approach to managing the programme encouraged us and kept us through the difficult moments when we had to balance family time, work and pursuit of the Diploma. Had it not been for your understanding, encouragement and your ability to motivate us , then I myself may not be here today.
To Mrs. Jean Borneo, Director of Youth Affairs, I thank you for your unwavering commitment to the training of Youth Work Professionals in Trinidad and Tobago. You willingly shared your experience and wisdom in youth work during the many times the course asked me to discuss ideas or approaches with colleagues. Your passion for youth work and your availability to me as a resource person, mentor and ‘sounding board’ for ideas has inspired my performance throughout this course of study.
On behalf of all the students, I wish to also commend the School of Continuing Studies for providing us with such a conducive learning environment. We recognise that the environment went beyond providing classroom space or time tabling. The environment provided was the atmosphere which promoted learning and teamwork. I realise that learning was always promote as a hobby, not competition which forced students to hoard notes, form library cartels and not care about each other’s performance. . There were challenges in the delivery of the programme. But even the challenges presented learning and growth opportunities to us. We were able to overcome challenges by harnessing our innate creativity and ability to adapting our environment to bring about excellence.
The Commonwealth Youth Programme has once again showed their commitment to the development of youth. On behalf of all the graduates here, I wish to express our gratitude to the CYP for providing training which is culturally relevant and which increases our capabilities as youth workers and keep us au currant with best practices in youth work.
Once again, on behalf of the Graduating class I wish to thank all who have shared in our reaching this stage of our development and encourage all of you to continue to partner and collaborate with us as we remain steadfast to the work of youth development.
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