Civic Engagement Student Profile
Name: Nicholas Kang ’12
Major: CIS- “Social Innovation and Community Development”; Biology
Program: Davis Projects for Peace; Summer 2011
Project: Li-k’ei Project: Youth Promoting Peace in Merritt, British Columbia
Please describe your project.
My project had three main components. The first was outreach towards local First Nations community to engage their youth in leadership and service experiences using the Smart Step Youth Association’s youth programming to facilitate those experiences. The program also established a youth council to provide First Nations and non-First Nations youth a voice at the political level. The program’s third component was establishing a full time Teen Centre as a resource and safe location for teenagers to organize leadership, sports, and service activities.
What steps did you take to develop your project and apply for this opportunity?
My first step was to develop multiple ideas for projects and talk to others about them. This helped me refine my project and identify what I am truly interested in. I then tested my idea’s tangibility by discussing it with people who would be involved, such as possible partners, and the expected beneficiaries of the project. At this point it was important to reflect and make sure the idea, partnership, goals were clear. From there, I worked on fine-tuning what is important or not important in my project with helpful input from potential partners, with whom I kept sharing my idea/proposal along the way.
How did you utilize the CEL or other resources?
Nate Jacobi at the CEL was a helpful consultant and provided a set of eyes to run over the proposal. He would prompt me with questions about my idea, which helped me see where improvements needed to be done. I also talked frequently with a professor who had a background in the field of community development and community organizing. The professor offered a trusted critical eye as he was interested in my project and gave good criticism.
What was your greatest contribution?
My greatest contribution was bridging the gap between the project’s beneficiaries and the service providers. It was meaningful to build connections between the youth and the local non-profits in order to create a lasting relationship. In this way, youth in the community can work actively and directly with their service providers, instead of simply being passive receivers.
What did you learn or gain from the experience?
Vocationally, it solidified an interest in community development that I will continue to pursue after this project. I saw the power inherent in organizing people, especially when they have the right attitudes and motivations. They are able to feed off of each other to continue to create a stronger and better environment around them. They have the power to develop peace across socio-economic and racial barriers.