Treasure Island Job Corps

Trainees Visit Washington DC for Y2Y Conference

January 29th, 2016

Besides needing endless amounts of coffee to stay awake and remain sane on a 6 hour flight to Washington D.C., I, Daniela Arroyo-Ruiz, had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. alongside Jamie Garcia and Ms. Michele Brush for a youth to youth violence prevention conference on Tuesday January 19th. We had the privilege of meeting the Job Corps National Director, Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, and trainees from a variety of centers from across the country. The conference was a two day event full of information, encouragement, respect, and inspiration. There were several topics discussed including the zero tolerance policy, student conduct, student development, peer-to-peer aggression, and living success, where we were able to express ourselves and give our input.

On Wednesday we started off our day at 8 A.M., grabbed breakfast and discovered everyone attending the conference was lodged in the same hotel, The Liaison Capitol Hill. As soon as we finished breakfast, we walked to the nearby Department of Labor building where the conference was scheduled. In the process of signing in, they asked us to sit at tables with people we did not know in order to get to know others and gain knowledge of other centers. In addition, after every break, we were instructed to switch tables in order to be able to know at least everyone’s name. Speakers included Michael Allen, a youth specialist, Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, the national director, Eric Seleznow, acting Assistant Secretary of the DOL, Y2Y Ambassadors from other centers, a successful Job Corps alumnus, Delvin Seawright, and author Tony Lewis.

Following the discussions, all the participants had the opportunity to partake in the Civic Engagement Bus Tour. On the tour we were honored to see historical landmarks such as the White House, Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, etc. The night concluded with dinner at a local pizzeria with those who attended the conference. For us though, the fun had just begun. Us Californians seemed like the outsiders due to the fact we were not from the east coast, Midwest, or southwest. It was exciting to meet a group from Kentucky and be able to spend the rest of the last night we had in D.C. We roamed around Union Station, where we grabbed some food and coffee. We enjoyed spending time with peers and grabbing souvenirs on our way out. The winter storm did not stop us, and we made it to our next destination.

On Thursday, after the presentations, we rode along with the group from Woodland Job Corps and stopped at an old country buffet to have a late lunch. We discussed the differences between our SGA and theirs, learning some helpful tips along the way. The Woodland Job Corps in Maryland also allowed us a fantastic tour around the campus provided by their very own SGA president, and we also got to meet their Center Director. The campus has beautiful scenery that can make you fall in love with nature itself in an instant. Despite the cold weather and winter storm approaching, we were able to stroll the campus and see the ins and outs of the trade buildings, dormitory halls, cafeteria, and administration building. They were very welcoming and were very enthusiastic to have us as visitors. We thank them for providing us a tour and giving us an inspirational idea: a peace tree. The peace tree is a spot on center where they took a capsule, put in personal stories of violence, and buried it under one their trees on campus. They did the final touches by decorating it and naming it the peace tree. That itself is so inspirational and full of meaning.

In conclusion, we learned we must build awareness amongst our peers and staff about the Y2Y mission. Whether it be religion, spirituality, sexuality, or political ideologies, we must understand where it is we’re coming from and how we can all move forward together. We can build a culture with day to day activities, effecting the overall tone of how students interact with one another. Culture makes all the difference in our efforts to counter violence and promote unity.

~ Daniela Arroyo Ruiz, Office Administration Student and Y2Y Ambassador