By Shylayah Mcmillan
The Durham VOICE
My summer with YO:Durham was AMAZING!
If you don’t know what YO:Durham is, it means Year Of Opportunity For Durham Teens. As a community program, YO:Durham helps local teens become better people and to think about the better things in life like the things that they can do other than what they may see everyday in Durham.
We spent six weeks with YO:Durham called the Summer Career Academy. During this time we got to know one another and the staff at YO:Durham including Mrs.Blackmon, Mr.O.G., Mrs.Fox and Mr.Waters.
Much of our time was spent at the N.C. Mutual Life building downtown. N.C. Mutual is a black-owned insurance company that was founded by John Merrick, a former slave, Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore, a humanitarian and Charles Clinton Spaulding, a builder that may be better know as C.C. Spualding who also has a local elementary school named after him.
During week one we made life road maps which we stood in front of the class and read so everybody could get to know each other better. We also did a lot of group work but were also required to not use the same partners more than once.
During our second week we listened to guest speakers that told us about themselves and how they were attached to N.C. Mutual. Our third week saw us working at Durham Technical Community College where we had poetry night and also learned to make homemade ice cream. We also learned skills like building bird houses (I still have mine.) One of the best parts about the week at DTCC was that we learned CPR and the same day two boys from our class, including Sharif Reubin – a fellow VOICE intern – saved a little boy on a city bus with what they had learned.
By week four we were college touring and went to DTCC once again but also Winston-Salem State University (which I missed), N.C. Central University where I thought it was great to learn about the founder Dr. James. E. Shepard. We also toured the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill whose graduates included famous NBA players like Rick Fox and Michael Jordan. We also toured N.C. Agricultural and Technical State University which is a pretty big school in which I learned much.
At N.C. A & T we went to the museum and learned about the young men that started the big sit-in as part of the Civil Rights movement. The actual chairs and bar that they sat at had been turned into the museum we now toured!
During week five we went rope climbing and I thought that that was a great experience. As your average person that is afraid of heights I was at first afraid. But I want to live outside of the box so I went on up. It was scary at first but after I got the hang of it I went all the way to the top – about 50 feet.
We also went to the Asheboro zoo this week and saw seals, elephants, monkeys, gorillas, alligators and polar bears. After we left the zoo we did our usual practice of taking a lot of pictures for Mr. Waters – one of the YO:Durham staff members and afterward ate at a restaurant.
During our last week we said our goodbyes and performed our mock interviews. It was set up nicely and we had to dress up professionally (actually an everyday thing) and meet our future mentors and bosses.
I met with Koonce and the VOICE and had my real job interview. After hearing about the VOICE and liking what I heard now I have the opportunity to work here.
That’s a good way to sum up my experience with YO:Durham. Now I continue looking for opportunities in the rest of my year ahead.