The 2013 AmeriCorps Conference of Youth Leaders took place last week in Washington D.C. with the purpose of connecting YouthBuild participants from all over the country. Lawrence Pham and Eloy Martinez were selected to attend the conference which proved to be quite an exciting experience. Lawrence was elected to be Colorado’s Representative on YouthBuild USA’s Young Leaders Council, a highly competitive and distinguished position. The Council is a peer-elected body that serves as a voice for the national YouthBuild movement. He will participate in various leadership roles such as policy-making and advocacy for YouthBuild USA. He tells us about his experience here:The Young Leaders Conference was fun. Everyone had a blast. We did a lot of group activities mainly focusing on team builders. Everyone had to contribute and make the most out of our experience. We participated in activities where the staff would spit wisdom into our lives. Everything at the conference helped us think more positive and accept the fact that there are always bad things that happen. The experience with other YouthBuild members was incredible. We bonded so well because no one judged and everyone welcomed every single person there with open arms, even the chef. We talked about life in their communities. It shocked me how everyone could relate to each other no matter how far apart we live. Meeting them was a true honor. We made bonds that I believe will last forever. The one and only thing I was really nervous about was giving a speech for the Young Leaders Council. Every day I was more frightened, not because of all the people looking at me, but because I didn’t know if my speech would be powerful enough to capture everyone’s heart. The time limit was very strict, so it had to be inspiring and short which added even more pressure. When the time came, I was shaking, but ready. They called my name, and I went for it. After my speech, I felt like I was on top of the world. Many people came up to me to tell me what a great job I’d done. It was one of the best feelings. After the trip, I felt really empowered. Love and unity coursed through my veins as I entered the plane. The energy was great, and I had no doubt it would last past the conference. Overall, the experience was really powerful and motivating. Being around 115 youth that were in the same shoes as me and who were taking a huge step in changing, not just their life but the world, helped me realize the potential in these once lost souls.
To read more about the Young Leaders Conference, please visit www.YouthBuild.org.