He wanted to make sure the Arabic-speaking youth in his delegation of Israeli, Palestinian, and American students fully understood my question as I walked the group through an introduction to social entrepreneurship.
- Israeli, Palestinian and American youth coming together through Kids4Peace.
- Japanese and DC teens in the Tomodachi exchange program.
- Black and Jewish students from St. Louis’ Cultural Leadership program passing through DC on their annual civil rights tour.
- Middle and high school students from across the country brought together by Spark the Wave‘s week-long DC program
I never assume that students will know social entrepreneurship by name. Indeed, while most native English speaking students can give a convincing definition of entrepreneurship, most draw a blank when the word “social” is added in front.[Hint: It doesn’t have to do with social media. It does have to do with applying an entrepreneurial approach to achieving social impact.]
But once they get it, they get it.
As soon as we make the leap from discussing social entrepreneurship in the abstract to asking them what makes them mad, the energy in the room shifts. It turns out there’s a lot on their minds.
Across so many cities, countries, and cultures, their concerns are strikingly similar: Islamophobia. Closed-Mindedness. Apathy. Gender inequality. Poverty. Disparities in access to quality education. Racism, prejudice and discrimination. The list goes on.
Even as the Kids4Peace group struggled to translate “entrepreneur” into Arabic and Hebrew, they were quick to express their concerns about the fear and prejudice that has simmered as an undercurrent in the US presidential election and global politics.
I met the Cultural Leadership group in the wake of the Orlando shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub, and the backlash against Muslim Americans that followed.
Visiting students from Japan tried to comprehend the explanations their DC counterparts shared of the racism underlying the killings of unarmed black men by police officers. They acknowledged that though manifesting differently, discrimination still exists in Japan.
4. Through my work with LearnServe students, and their counterparts in programs across the U.S. and around the world, I have found a theme that consistently transcends countries, cultures, languages, and socio-economic backgrounds: the passion of people, especially young people, to look big problems in the eye and create a solution.