By Marwa Eltahir
On September 22nd, excited high school students from all around the metropolitan area entered the library of School Without Walls eager to attend their first meeting as LearnServe International Fellows. The energy about the room was a sort of animated frenzy. Students conversed with one another and shared snacks as they awaited the start of the meeting.
The meeting began with a warm welcome from the LearnServe staff and former Fellow Matthew Baldwin. An overview of the year’s upcoming events and expectations was outlined and the ball was rolling. The Fellows split up into two separate cohorts, Learn led by Scott Rechler and Serve led by Eric Goldstein. In each cohort Fellows had the chance to get to know each other in a smaller group setting. Most importantly, they were introduced to the two key components of LearnServe International: leadership and social entrepreneurship. Fellows defined each term from their personal experiences and some of their views were tested by others’ differing perspectives. Each Fellow also had the chance to brainstorm about “what pisses you off in the world,” a question essential to the venture making process.
For me, the first meeting was somewhat surreal. I was taken aback when I remembered that just a year ago I was sitting in the exact same spot as the current Fellows, anxious, enthusiastic, and a little unsure of what was to come. I consider myself extremely honored to be a LearnServe Ambassador this year to help and support the fellows in an experience that I have first-hand knowledge of. I’m excited about relating to the Fellows and letting them know they are not alone in the challenging process of becoming their own kind of social entrepreneur.
Overall, the meeting was very eventful and beneficial. The Fellows gained a better understanding of LearnServe, the ambassadors got a chance to connect with the Fellows they will be working with, and the leaders got everyone excited for the upcoming year. The future is bright for each of the current 68 members of the Learn Serve International Fellowship, which is the largest number of fellows so far! Now we are all thrilled to venture on our camping retreat this weekend and get to know people on a more personal level while we work on our team-building skills!