Building a community of Fellowship peers across North America

April 29, 2021
by Deborah Lash, Creative Manager, RESULTS

Fellows from both the RESULTS U.S. and Canada fellowship programs recently had the opportunity to gather together virtually for the first time. The Fellowships offer hands-on advocacy training programs for the next generation of activists, and the event included a Q&A, shares from current fellows, and a networking session to allow the Fellows to build community across borders.

More than 40 young people from across the United States and Canada heard an inspiring discussion from their executive directors during a Q&A with Joanne Carter (U.S.) and Chris Dendys (Canada) moderated by former fellow Mackenzie Aime. Topics ranged from creating a career path and leading through your passion, to the role of youth in decolonizing global health, to ending systemic oppression and creating a more equitable world.

Chris Dendys spoke about the experience of being an advocate and trying new things. “There are times when you really need to push yourself as an advocate. You can feel your heart beating in your chest. Don’t think of it as nerves, but as inner applause. If you’re pushing yourself, listen for the inner applause.”

The idea resonated with many of the fellows on the call, including Alexandra Saulenas from Boston, MA. “The line Chris shared about the ‘inner applause’ really stuck with me. Being able to find the motivation and self-encouragement to keep going is very important. I know that I am part of a much larger movement, and it feels so empowering!”

Joanne Carter addressed the discrimination and tokenism that young leaders often experience. “Whether it’s in the U.S. or Canada or any other country, it’s incredibly important to have young people leading this work, not just in the future, but right now. You’re not just “emerging” leaders or “future” leaders – you’re leaders right now! Don’t underestimate your power and impact — knowing the power you have makes it possible do even more.”

Kazmyn Ramos from Indianapolis said she was inspired by hearing Joanne and Chris talk about “what keeps them going in their work toward ending oppression. It is easy to get sidetracked and discouraged but they both shared that they found resolve in knowing that what they do works. They also shared that seeing others work toward the same goals has helped keep them going. I am starting to feel that same hope while connecting with other fellows. The hope that we can truly make change.”

The Q&A was followed by shares from fellows Edward Syth (U.S.) and Christine Saleeb (Canada). Edward shared how meaningful the fellowship experience has been for him. “The direction and tools I’ve gained has made me a much better advocate. RESULTS has taught me that everyday people can make a difference and that the government should work for us, not against us.” Christine said that her “favorite part of the fellowship so far is channeling my passions into action” and shared that she has had the “delight of starting a Results Canada group in my local area in the Niagara region.”

In the casual networking session, fellows split into small groups and shared their experience with the fellowship. The fellows enjoyed meeting new people and hearing their stories, including Michael Orlando from Fort Worth, TX. “Stories of people experiencing similar things always inspire me.”

Having “the opportunity to chat with other fellows was a highlight” for many attendees, like Norm Filiol from Ottawa, Canada. Michaela Mishoe from Richmond, VA said, “I love connecting with others around my state and country, and tonight, with others in Canada! It keeps me going to know others feel passionately about these issues and are working hard.”

The webinar was an important moment for both fellowship programs. The next generation was gathered to build bridges and community across the continent, as well as fuel up on inspiration and hear directly from RESULTS executive directors about the importance of youth leadership. As Rayna Castillo of Phoenix, AZ shared afterwards: “I don’t have to think about myself creating change as a leader in the future, because I’m a leader now.”

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