One of the greatest gifts I have ever had has been to be involved with the STEP-UP Achieve Summer Jobs program, which, after this summer, will have put 22,000 students into high-quality employment. The vast majority are young people of color, who represent every part of Minneapolis-St. Paul’s increasingly diverse culture.
This summer our team at Generation Next is blessed to have two high school interns: one from STEP-UP and one from Saint Paul’s Right Track program.
We would like you to read the blogs written by these two remarkable young men: Abdul and Marquis. They give us so much hope for our future, and even more motivation to continue Generation Next’s mission of closing our racial achievement and opportunity gaps. (Learn more about what Generation Next is doing here: http://www.gennextmsp.org/goals)
– R.T. Rybak
10 years! It might seem like a long time, but to me it seems like yesterday. It’s been 10 years since my family and I moved to the United States. I was born in Mombasa, a city on the coast in Kenya, but my parents fled the civil war in Somalia. I’ve always struggled with coming to terms on where ‘home’ is. I lived in Kenya for 7 years and attended school there but it never completely felt like home because my parents only lived there due to difficult circumstances. Somalia is the place where I’ve always felt emotionally connected to, it’s where my parents grew up and where my ancestors roamed for centuries.
The United States is where I’ve spent the majority of my life and the place that has given my parents peace of mind and given me endless opportunities. Perhaps home is somewhere I’m going and have never been before. You see, the Somalia you often hear about in the news wasn’t always like this, it was considered in the West as the model of a rural democracy in Africa. Somalia was a huge vacation and tourist destination. I hope someday it returns to how it was.
I started first grade in the US on Valentine’s Day, 2005. I was so confused as to why the kids were passing out candy and everything was new. I found out in second grade that Valentine’s Day is an annual holiday. I remember at times feeling isolated in elementary school and finding it hard to make friends because I couldn’t speak English and also there weren’t many people who I felt understood where I was coming from. I want to thank my ELL teachers at M.W. Savage and Red Oak Elementary School for comforting me, advocating for me and pushing me to do my best! Sometimes teachers don’t get enough credit, but there are amazing teachers who want to see their students succeed.
I moved to Minneapolis in 2012 and started my freshmen year at Washburn High School earning good grades. At first, it was hard to make friends, since I just recently moved to the city and it felt like everyone at my school had their own friends that they’ve known since Kindergarten. It was in my junior year that I decided to get out of my comfort zone and join various clubs and organizations. I was a fellow at the Minneapolis Public Schools Social Justice Fellows; I was on the editorial board of Shine On, a Minneapolis Public Schools newspaper; and I was chosen president of the Washburn Multicultural Club. This summer, through STEP-UP Achieve, I got the opportunity for an internship at Generation Next where I’m learning to increase my leadership skills in a professional setting.
This upcoming year I will be a senior and finally graduating High School. My dream is to attend the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and major in Political Science with a minor in Global Studies. I’m passionate about human rights and world affairs, whether it’s climate change or the migrant crisis on the Mediterranean where thousands of people, mainly Africans, fleeing poverty and instability have drowned. I’m also a firm believer in Ubuntu, an ancient South African word meaning “humanity to others.” It also means “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
Hello, I’m 15 years old and will be a junior next year at Minneapolis North High School. Although I am from Minnesota, my parents and the rest of my family are from Boston, MA. What brought my mom to Minnesota was college, where she attended the University of Minnesota and played Division 1 basketball. I love basketball and have played since the 4th Grade, traveling a lot and playing against some of the top competition across the country.
In my family, education is just as important as sports. My mom always told me “Basketball can be taken away from you, but no one can take your education.” My parents always push me and my younger brother to do well in school because pretty much my mom’s whole side of the family went to college and she wants the same for us. Also at school, if you don’t have the grades you can’t play sports.
Last summer is how I first got involved with the Right Track summer jobs program. One of my mom’s friends recommended me to them and they took me on board. I worked at a park in West Saint Paul as a camp counselor at a summer camp. This year I was old enough to apply for the YJ02 internships. I went through the whole interviewing process and ended up with Generation Next. Right Track is a program that helps Saint Paul youth get jobs. With my internship, I also attend job training every week. They teach you everything about how to perform well in a professional setting and I love it a lot.
After high school, which is not that far away from now, I hope to attend college and major in Business and Marketing. So far this summer with Generation Next I have learned so many skills and so much new information that I am well ahead of my peers. I know there is still a lot of learning to come, but my ultimate goals for this summer are to build my resume, gain leadership & communication skills and to network with lots of new people that will benefit me in the long run.