Yes, I am 18 today. In 1996, on February 13th, I walked through the doors of the Youth Development Division as a novice. The excitement of having been given the opportunity to work with young people like myself was thrilling. Who would have thought, this young lady would turn into a strong woman within the same Department for that many years, contributing to the lives of hundreds maybe even thousands of young men and women on a regular basis, through various programs and activities?
The many camps, retreats, seminars, symposiums, trainings, discussions, youth radio programs produced, job letters written, recommendations given, and all the too numerous to mention events that I have offered and or presented over the years have definitely reaped great harvest. For today, I look back at some of my 4-Hers, summer day camp volunteers, peer educators, youth leaders, youth group members, trainees, and so many others from Primary school (pupils) to college level (students) who turned into youth who are now Fire Officers, Police Officers, Teachers, Lawyers, skilled men and women, entrepreneurs, media personnel, among other professions. Thankfully, I can safely say that the majority of those I have encountered are confident and productive citizens of Dominica.
It is heartwarming to say the least to note that many of them are servants of our land; others are servants of other regional islands; while, many are serving international countries, and or are in pursuit of further education. Notwithstanding such successes, I note the few who have fallen prey to societal ills, others who have died tragic deaths, while a few are perishing at the state penitentiary.
With this reality, can I throw in the towel and agree that my achievements are enough to define the quality of my work? Nah, I doubt. Youth is still on my side – as I say this with some skepticism for my Young Friends will probably take this as a great joke at my expense. Fear not, you can laugh; I will laugh with you.
Seriously though, I cannot call it quits, though the temptation is great. The work persists though over the past year and some, I have had new responsibilities and occupational focus, not exactly to my choosing. Still I must persist on this journey of youth development, as I seek to impact lives positively, and shine wherever I’m planted, until otherwise.
Back then I used to say, “Youth Work Chose Me”, and I hadn’t chosen it. I still subscribe to this belief somehow. You see, many certificates, one Diploma in Youth Work, one 120 credit hours in Management in Learning, and one Bachelor of Arts – Cum Laude in Sociology & Psychology later, womanhood kicks in.
This Youth Worker is in a state of deeper awareness, and may just be seeking other interests, – who knows? As long as we live, we should learn, grow, and perfect our craft right? Well at least that is something I believe. So, I am working on it. At 18, I need to develop a new awareness of adulthood, for synonymously teens get excited at that juncture in my island. Voting rights, adulthood and such privileges become front issues. So, as if I am given new rights and opportunities at my 18, allow me to dream, pursue new grounds and maybe even fly without knowing where these new wings will take me. After all, I am 18.
Thanks to all those who gave me wind, strengthened and or repaired those wings when they were injured, thought me to fly and even those who knocked me down sometimes. I made it to 18. Thanks to Papa God for All the Tremendous doors He has opened from then to now. May I continue to grow!