Youth Narrating Our World (YNOW) Convenes For The Second Time @ Columbia College Chicago

Guest Post By Catherine Baxter

On Saturday, I had the privilege of being the on-site support for Michele Weldon and Deborah Douglas at the second convening of Youth Narrating Our World in Chicago. When we arrived at Columbia College to set up, we joked that we didn’t think the amazing high-rise view from The McCormick Foundation office couldn’t be topped and were pleasantly surprised to find a stunning and unobstructed view of Lake Michigan from our room! We did a quick poll with the students and found that the winner for best view was….(drum roll)….a tie! Big thanks to both The McCormick Foundation and Columbia College for providing us with incredible spaces to learn in.

As the photographer, note-taker, and general assistant I was able to watch and listen as the YNOW participants became more comfortable with their ideas, with each other, and with the possibility of seeing their work published in national publications. When Michele and Deborah helped the students tease out their hunches and transform them into relatable news stories, I was thrilled to see lightbulbs go off around the room. And when the students helped each other by challenging and strengthening their arguments, there was a shift in the day. The students went from being primarily concerned about their own ideas to noticeably joining forces as a group to help one another by offering suggestions and insight.

Spending the day with these smart and motivated high-school students reminded me that even though I have graduated from college, I am only 5 years removed from high school and my young voice is also underrepresented in the world’s conversation. I hope the participants felt as inspired and excited as I was by the days end!

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