Letting Youth Voices Be Heard: A Reflection.

Emily, Hands On Nashville’s YVC Engagement AmeriCorps member, reflects on two years of leadership.

Emily (left) with fellow AmeriCorps Charlotte at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm during summer 2015.
Emily (left) with fellow AmeriCorps Member Charlotte at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm in Summer 2015.

In July, Emily Constantian’s two-year term as an YVC Engagement AmeriCorps member came to a close. During her time at Hands On Nashville, Emily brought unmatched energy to the task of leading and empowering Nashville youth to engage in service-learning opportunities. Emily constantly challenged her peers to consider how they can effect positive change in their communities. Emily played a crucial role in coordinating and developing Hands On Nashville’s Youth Volunteer Corps programming, including aspects of Crop City, Intersession programs, and internships.

Before starting out on her next adventure, Emily left us a reflection of her time.

I started at Hands On Nashville in September 2013 after I graduated from college the previous May, so this was my first job in the “real world.” Looking back I think I have learned as much or more about myself and the world in two years here than I did in all of my years in college. I have, of course, gained skills that will help me in the future, but what I think will stick with me most are the people I have crossed paths with. I don’t really know if it’s possible to fully reflect on two years of interactions in such a brief essay, but a list seems appropriate:

  • HON Staff: First, how lucky is this organization to have such driven, skilled, and wise people working here? The staff here believed I could work and thrive in the “real world” before I even knew what that meant. I’ve been impressed by how much effort is put into every detail of what goes on, and it has been fun to be a part of the hustle and bustle that is the Hands On Nashville office.
  • My Fellow AmeriCorps members: We have learned alongside each other, supported each other’s programs, and shared many a lunch break. Each of you have made me question things about the world. You fight each day to change what needs changing in our community and our world.
  • The Youth: I can’t describe the amazingness of the young people I have met. (They are definitely way cooler than I was as a high school student!) The youth involved with HON’s Youth Volunteer Corps are fearless; I have witnessed their persistence, teamwork, and empathy. I have learned so much from them, but most importantly: “the whip”. (Watch me, watch me!)

The next step for me is graduate school. I will be studying human development and psychology, focusing on youth advocacy. My time at Hands On Nashville has launched me into my next steps in life, and I deeply appreciate the opportunity I had to do that here.

Here’s to continuing to fight for equity of opportunity for all young people, and letting youth voices be heard.

Thank you, Emily! We wish you the best. 

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