Joining the RENEW team was one of the wiser choices I have made to further my professional career as a photographer, philanthropist, and youth mentor. As a volunteer in America I always loved mentorship opportunities in after school programs, helping youths develop the strength and courage they need to succeed in school and even in sports. But after training and volunteering with RENEW at Akeri Secondary School, in Tanzania, I can truly say my purpose in becoming a personal growth mentor and role model has grown to a whole new level.
Seeing the transformation in the students each day was enough evidence for me that the benefits of our mentorship program was real and needed. At first, I was dishearten to recognize these shy souls knew nothings about their abilities to change their futures and their capabilities to create a better future for themselves and the world around them. However, after a few days of inspirational guidance and lessons on how to look internally for the answers these students became self-empowered, self-loving, resilient innovators ready to tackle any obstacles standing in the way of their futures and their goals.
Let me try to paint this picture into words. Imagine you live in a world where no one has asked you what you want to be or what you want do when you grow up? Nobody has asked you what you think about your community? Nobody has asked you how you feel about yourself, or even if you feel happy or sad today? Unfortunately, not all educators have the opportunity to their students these questions because we live in a global society that focuses on our kids becoming text book thinkers rather than self-loving community thinkers. Our philosophy [the RENEW Philosophy] is to train our next generation of leaders to have the ability of internal evaluation about themselves and their communities, so that they can create the most positive impact on the future of their lives as well as the world that surrounds them.
Most of the students have just a slight understanding of their purposes and existence. They go to school, they do their homework, they talk and play with their friends, they go home to their families, and then they go to sleep; just to wake up and do it all over again. It is like a continuous cycle of rinse and repeat. When our society focuses on cramming knowledge into students heads simply for academic grade point averages, we lose the real meanings of life; what makes us motivated, what keeps us inspired, what allows us to be happy within our own skin. I personally do not want to live in a world where our next generation is forced to do the things they despise just because it makes them enough money to survive. I want to live in a world where the people that surround each other love and honor their integrity, honesty, and loyalty to themselves, their families, and their community.
This may be the beginning pages in the newest chapter of my life, but having the experience to see the transformations within each student's eyes was probably the most inspirational and enlightening opportunity I have ever taken part of. Being apart of the RENEW team has not only increased my expectations as a youth activist, but it has given me the privilege of elevating a new generation of energetic and proactive leaders in the Tanzanian community. I am seriously so proud of each and every one of these students for taking the right steps towards creating a better future in their lives. Akeri Secondary School now has a predominate and bright future upon them with a new force of innovative leaders ready to take action in the world one project at a time.