How YCPT Has Impacted Me
Written by Kenneth An, Youth Community Project Team Member
There’s no doubt that I’ve seen domestic violence in my life before I joined YCPT, through my friends’ experiences and my own experiences as well. I’ve seen DV depicted in many books and movies, and I knew from a sense that it was wrong. I’ve seen my friends come to me for help or just search for help in general, questioning the immorality of it, why it’s happening to them, and what they can do to prevent it from happening again. Or, even worse, how they could escape from it since they’re too afraid to deal with it. I always wanted to help, but I never knew how. Even in my own family, some minor abuse has happened, but for so long that I started to think it was normal in any relationship. It’s in movies and books, so why not in life?
Never has something impacted me so much in my life than YCPT itself. Where can I start? I’ve learned so much about everything from the day I joined YCPT two years ago… what my strengths and weaknesses are, what I can do to help, what I can do to cause change. How to speak out loud. How to spread awareness. How to believe in myself enough to be confident when facing the harsh reality. How to love, care, and support not only my friends and family, but myself as well.
YCPT taught me to be passionate about something. Sure, I was passionate in music or math, but those were my interests. What I mean is being passionate about things that I knew had to change. Listening to the words that David Teacher and Lydia Teacher spoke about domestic violence, what was wrong with it, why it’s in our community, why aren’t people really reacting to it, etc… I began to develop a sense that I can speak what’s wrong with this world. I remember David Teacher talking about how domestic violence has been around for thousands of years, in any civilization in history, but its awareness isn’t recognized in today’s world more than the awareness of breast cancer, which was, compared to DV, recently discovered. That sparked something in me that I’m not sure how to describe, but from that day on I put all my weight into advocating against DV.
I also realized that I don’t have to speak just with words. The YCPT concerts, the parades and marches, and any other activities I contributed in weren’t just words. I saw that I can apply my hobbies, like music or filmmaking, to advocating against an issue that I knew deep down in my heart was absolutely wrong.
Soon, I started to speak more than usual during the YCPT meetings. I kept on talking, not only in YCPT but to my family and my friends. I researched domestic violence by myself and presented it in school. I was making sure that the people I knew and the people that were around me learned about the horrors of domestic violence.
But then, as we started to prepare for our end-of-the-year concert in June 2014, I’ve learned the power of teamwork. I was certain that some other kids in YCPT were as passionate as I was, and while we were learning the songs for the performance, I saw how strong ten voices were compared to just one voice. We had the potential to be louder, and we took that potential. During the concert, I forgot about my weaknesses, my dignity, my future, and my fears in all of them. I only remembered the purpose of the concert, and how loud we were speaking that day. I mean that figuratively and literally (there weren’t enough microphones).
I began to notice that my friends in YCPT started to see me more than just a friend. They started to come to me for help. If they didn’t know what to do, or if they needed someone to talk to, they came to me. Although I didn’t know what was going on back then, later on I realized that they saw me as some type of leader. I refuse to brag about it–just what I recognized. I discovered leadership, a quality that for my entire life I lacked in. I was so used to following the crowd that I lost my voice. Now that I’m reflecting, I’m sort of disappointed in the old me–I was like a drone, going wherever the crowd was going. But through my passion for advocating against DV and my constant inclination to assist, love, and support others, no matter how much I knew them, I learned what it was to be a leader. And I thank YCPT for it.
My desire to help and create an impact drastically increased when we were handing out flyers in Main Street. When I asked a woman passing by if she wanted a flyer (and a free pen), she declined, but she showed me another flyer that another student gave, and told me, “I already have one. But thank you. I really needed one.” I looked at her, and when I did I felt an aura of hope radiating from her. She smiled a smile that warmed my heart on that cold day, a smile that I haven’t seen on others’ faces ever in my life. I hugged her and wished her good luck, telling her to give us a call and to spread the word. She promised that she would.
I realize that I typed way too much and that I should probably stop now, but there’s so much more I can say. In this moment, I am so thankful of the road I took when I decided to join YCPT, because that road has shown me everything about DV, the community, the people, and me. Everything in YCPT showed me the power of the community and the power of the individual. I’ve learned to love the people around me, and my ability to help whenever I can. How love defeats hate, how light eradicates darkness. I, as an individual, am powerful. We, as YCPT, are even more powerful. Small, of course, but powerful.