Transcending Borders in Youth Services

alex picBy Alex Aldana
Blogging Scholarship Recipient
Thoughts on Youth Services and Empowerment

After experiencing some of the community in Atlanta and devouring a tremendous plate of Chilaquiles Mexicanos at El solecito Grill in Mabletown, GA  some of the youth organizers from the national immigrant youth alliance and other folks that work directly with youth crashed a Youth Planning committee. 69668_10100282814624035_499884850_n

As we embarked into our crusing/networking parade, identifying what topics in youth services are more important, such as bullying, violence, family acceptance, and others, I couldn’t help to look around and see who was part of these conversations.

It was great to see many service providers, but the lack of representation of youth wanting to question their needs was imminent.

Most of our chatering went around us being undocumented of corse, and most of the youth that were there didn’t have great context in regards of what it meant. Violence, bullying and acceptance is something we live everyday in this country.

Violence that comes in cycles in policy change and discrimination, Violence from “american vigilantes” that target those who leave so much behind in their countries for a better future. Violence with mass incarceration to millions of people, breaking dreams and families, neglecting the concept of liberty and wellness on a human being.

It was difficult to assimilate because most of the priviledges and concerns these people talked about crossed many of our struggles, and the fact that us, most impacted by these issues were present created a different type of conversation to start asking ourselves: “How can we help each other right now”

As many LGBTQ and Immigrant groups price and celebrate the upcoming atmosphere of President Barack Obama’s new take on immigration and “The Gays” many (undocumented) youth suffer everyday from these “loopholes” in services.

Some undocumented youth in states like Georgia can’t access HIV testing in most traditional places such as hospitals and clinics as they are turned away because of not having a valid ID.

The same story goes for LGBTQ youth services that are culturally competent to offer other services including culture, spirituality, mental health and substance use campaigns, imposing a the lack representation for young leaders on the rise that are contributing to empower our queer community.

the lesson learn from this quick gathering with fancy cheese and crackers was, indeed, we need more youth to demand and question to those big corporate organizations that instead of saying they work for our immigrant communities, to actually let the youth that are impacted the most to speak for themselves and offer potential opportunities and solutions to work in their organization. Not because your grant says you serve a target population, means that you are actually helping that community the right way.

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