My name is Tommy T., the current Co- Volunteer Program Coordinator for the Los Angeles Region’s IHL Action Campaign and an incoming 11th grader at North High School. Last year, I participated in the IHL Action Campaign as a Co-Team Leader along with Melanie N.. We worked hard to create a campaign that reached out to the specific audience that we chose: our generation. The creation of a campaign that revolved around this particular audience and was specifically tailored to make the audience feel and think in a certain way is what made our team successful in being invited to Washington, DC for the 2015 Youth Leadership Summit.
The IHL Action Campaign offered me one of my first leadership opportunities. I had been studying how to become a great leader under Melanie for the past year, but serving as Co-Team Leader was a chance for me to finally apply what I had learned. I came across issues that I had never encountered before during this time, like discrimination based on my age and experience level. Although there were members who had seniority over me in both age and experience, they were serving as Team Members rather than as Team Leaders. Having someone like me, who is younger and less experienced, as a supervisor was frustrating to some of them. It was not until I proved to them that I was a capable leader, by acting professionally and significantly contributing to the workload and campaign, that I earned their respect and support.
Not only did we have good leaders to facilitate the campaign, but we had great Team Members as well. Although we were all hard workers and supported the IHL Action Campaign, it was difficult for us to really come together at first. We weren’t exactly all friends at the beginning, so when we worked, everything felt like work. It was uncomfortable. It was awkward. It wasn’t enjoyable. So that made us take time out of our meetings to just bond as a team and get to know each other. We developed into a team of friends that could joke around with each other but could also depend on each other to do the job and take responsibility. Team Leaders would organize and present tasks to everyone at meetings and allow individual members to volunteer for the different tasks, taking into consideration their availability, their skills, and most importantly, their drive or passion for that particular task. This process made our team very efficient and kept us all happy and productive.
Carrying out the campaign was a pleasure for all of us. It allowed us to develop and grow as people. We learned a lot about the world through our education in IHL, and we learned a huge deal about our own generation, too. We were able to see the audience’s reactions to the information included about IHL in our presentations. Our campaign awakened our peers to the realities of armed conflict by allowing them to share their perspectives, thus changing their attitudes towards life and making them more mindful of other people in the world. Personally, I think that what we accomplished through our campaign is a great thing that needs to be continued. The current generation who will inherit the world needs to be informed before they can take action and make a change. Change starts at the individual level and that is who we reached out to as a team of nine high school students.
– Tommy T., IHL Action Campaign participant, Los Angeles Region