I Am Because We Are.
Supporting one another and giving back to our community has always been part of the culture of DYA. Students often greet one another with smiles and hugs when they arrive after school, as shared experiences create lasting memories and a true sense of community both within each class and within the program as a whole.
In the summer before 9th grade, students embark on a weeklong adventure challenge trip to learn about teamwork and stepping out of their comfort zone. Students gain a tremendous sense of accomplishment by doing well in an unfamiliar environment. They also bond with each other and learn to trust one another. Through guided experiences in the wilderness, our students explore their strengths and work through their weaknesses. They are continually encouraged to push through perceived limits and learn the value of interdependence.
Monthly community meetings also allow students to spend more time with other classes and have fun together. Older students take the initiative to plan the meetings and practice their leadership skills by facilitating. Yearly outdoors retreats, cultural food nights, and masquerade dances are just some examples that have allowed students to bond with their DYA family and build a stronger community.
Peer learning and peer mentoring play a crucial role in building a resilient community and network. After our seniors graduate and become alumni, they often come back to mentor younger students. They are able to relate and provide invaluable insights and guidance to our younger classes as they find their own leadership style and sense of belonging.
Outside of DYA, students take positive actions in the greater Worcester community as well. Throughout all four years students are required to participate in community action and cultural events. In the past, students have participated in Earth Day cleanups, advocated for immigration reform, volunteered at shelters and senior homes, facilitated youth empowerment groups, and lent their voice and talents to various advocacy groups.
Similarly, students complete two 50-hour internships. These eye-opening experiences are gratifying for students as they take on new responsibilities and explore possible career interests, and the Worcester businesses and organizations also benefit from the presence of positive young people.