Public speaking, cold calling/emailing, networking, and other social interactions can be difficult for anyone. But for many young people, embarking on a project that requires these kinds of activities can be more than a challenge -- it can be down-right frightening. Social media offers quick and easy methods of communication (?4U, BTW, IDK, lol, @, #, etc.), but it may not provide the best practice for more formal or conventional communications. As anyone applying for school or a job knows, it's important to be able to convey ideas clearly, both in person and in your correspondence. As difficult as this may be, it's a skill that's worth mastering.
As part of Youth Voices, students are encouraged to engage with their peers, adults, and community leaders as part of their outreach and investigation of their "community causes." Students are asked to participate in events in their community, where they can conduct outreach for their project (surveys, maps, interviews), identify resources, and find potential community residents and experts that they can interview for their project.
Many of the students have tremendous social skills, but when put in an unknown environment these skills can become overshadowed by an intense unease to a new situation and activity. Students have found it beneficial to take a step back, review their "community cause," and practice speaking about the "what, why, and who" of their project. The more they practice, the more comfortable they are with sharing their objectives and goals.
Students at Mountain View are contacting and requesting interviews with City of El Monte officials. They are crafting emails and practicing what they will say on the telephone. They are carefully checking their spelling and grammar, and asking for suggestions on their emails before sending them out. It's a slow process, but one that's aimed at getting them an interview or at least support for their project.
Before the holiday break the students at the L.A. River School presented their "causes" to community leaders, with the intention of collecting input to refine their ideas and before embarking on their community presentations. Next week they will conduct interviews and revise their digital presentations before their upcoming presentation a the NELA RC Community Open House.