Written by: Mery Gurung
Edited by: Carly Chan
I believe experiences can take you to many places beyond a classroom. For the last couple months, my team and I held our very first volunteer event–Social Justice Poster Art. Our goal for this event was to encourage young activists to express their views and concerns about specific social justice issues that are happening in the world right now in the form of poster art. This idea was a collective idea created by leaders who brainstormed during after school meetings. This event was not only for students but also for non-profits who volunteered alongside our students as they painted and conversed about career related topics. My hope is that students who attended the event left with more knowledge and awareness on current issues while also having fun with friends.
Just four months ago, I was a stranger to Passion Impact. Joining Passion Impact was one of the best decisions I’ve made throughout high school. Fast forward three weeks in, I was already given the role to become a part of the team planning for the Social Justice Poster Art event. From knowing almost nothing about event planning to being able to put together an event in just a few weeks, I can see the transformation within myself. I first felt clueless and anxious but also excited as this is the first event I have ever planned; I have no idea as to what the outcome would be, what obstacles we would face during planning, and if the students attending would genuinely enjoy taking part in such an event.
Getting started was definitely a little rocky. Although we finished our event with five people in the team, we only had two people in the team for the first two months: my partner, Kayla, and I. I never realized how many different concepts went into planning an event before this. By making sure we had planned every big and small piece, I learned to pay attention to details. We got the ball rolling in the beginning with the help of Stefan. He would help with the process of brainstorming by showing us videos that presented us with new concepts. He provided us with a binder filled with pages that consisted of organization layouts and checklists. It helped us to keep track of what we had accomplished. He also introduced me to the administrative side of our volunteer management database (Givepulse), where I wrote a description of what the event looks like for students and non-profits. I also approved volunteer hours and reflections that were recorded by students and non-profits.
One of the challenges for me was to hunt for the best materials, one being poster boards that can hold up paint well but at the same time be affordable. Originally, the plan was to order them online, but we feared that the material would not be what we had hoped so we changed our minds. Just as we predicted, when we saw the boards in person, they failed all of our expectations. At that point, our options were very limited. That was when we realized that instead of searching for already perfectly made poster boards that are impossible to find, it would be much easier if we cut the poster boards ourselves by using a stencil of our ideal poster size. This experience taught me to think and react quickly on my feet which is useful in the future because I will always be running into obstacles no matter what courses I take in life.
The Social Justice Poster Art event was my first ever event that I helped plan and definitely will not be my last. By being put into situations far beyond my comfort zone, it stretched my leadership skill sets and challenged my abilities. These skills that I gained will impact the rest of my journey as a leader and as I am building my career in the future. Seeing how I grew from this experience was certainly surprising and crazy. From having little to no knowledge about event planning to knowing just that much more is a big step for me that I would not have thought to take four months ago before joining Passion Impact. Even with the moments of discomfort and stress, I consider this an unforgettable and satisfying experience in my life.