Photo by Boby Yazdi.
By Henry M. Holden
Today, most high school graduates see three options ahead of them: Go on to college, enter the work force, or join the military.
Boby Yazdi, a 2017 graduate of Mt. Olive High School saw another option.
“I managed to get a Global Citizen Year Fellowship in India for eight months teaching English to public school kids, mentoring and tutoring,” said Yazdi.
The Global Citizen Year Fellowship is open to recent high school graduates and one can apply to one of four countries; Ecuador, Senegal, Brazil, and India.
“I chose India because my grandfather was from India,” said Yadzi.
The program started at Sanford University with graduate students from Sanford and Harvard University.
“We had training there with all the fellows before going to the four countries,” he said. “It was basically about how to maximize learning while in-country.”
The goal of the program is to expose the future leaders of tomorrow to develop social service and to develop self-skills such as learning to be more compassionate and accepting, empathetic leadership, confidence and public speaking.
“We’re taught to observe before judgment, and not go into a country with the ‘savior mentality,’” that is, with the idea of changing the community, but to go in and observe, and learn, and embrace their culture, he says.
After Stanford, Yazdi and the other fellows went in-country and had more training. Yazdi was placed with a host family in Hyderabad, India, for eight months.
In India there is a law called the Corporate Social Responsibility Act (CSR) that requires companies to spend two percent of their profits given that they make more than $1.5 million a year on humanitarian causes or humanitarian projects or nonprofit foundations.
“The project I did on recycling was fully funded by the Indian foundation and had nothing to do with my fellowship,” he explains. “I was very fortunate. We all got together every week or so and talked about our experiences. One of the things I learned was how happy these people were. Most of my students had parents who were blue-collar type workers. They didn’t have a lot of wealth but surprisingly they were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met. I learned how to be grateful as they are for the simplest things in life.
“Some of these kids had parents or siblings who had died,” he adds. “I could not get into their situation before meeting them. One thing I did learn was to be positive in every situation if I could be.”
Yazdi plans on going to Minerva College, but that is a year away.
“I came back from India being able to talk more about issues and some problems in India than I could about the problems in the U.S. so I decided to do a City Year which is a part of Americorp,” he explains.
City Year is an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. The organization partners with public schools in 28 high-need communities across the U.S. City Year teams are made up of 18 to 25-year old men and women, who provide student, classroom, and whole school support, intended to help students stay in school and on track to graduate high school. They spend 11 months working full-time in more than 300 schools to give students the extra support they need to graduate, college and career ready.
“I’m hoping to come back home with a larger picture of the problems in the U.S.,” he concludes.