This year we had the opportunity to have our first ever SAYA Young Men’s Leadership Conference. Young men attending the conference participated in two workshops: one on civic engagement panel and one on having a growth mindset.
In the morning session of the civic engagement workshop, Faiza Ali and Muhammad Khan, both political activists, focused on actual campaigns for justice and change that they themselves were involved in, which included: campaigning to add Eid to the public school holiday calendar and campaigning against airline discrimination of Muslims.
In the afternoon workshop, Hersh Parekh, a lawyer and Queens Community Liaison for New York State Governor Cuomo’s office, discussed the importance of getting involved in the political process and voting. Hanif Yazdi, an urban planner in training, discussed how the world around us represents value choices that politicians, institutions and structures have all made at one point to create the urban space we see before us.
SAYA’s young men were engaged, related their own experiences and asked important questions. They men brought up topics surrounding the (non)availability of halal food in school and issues with public transit. Afterwards, the young men discussed how they really now understood their ability to get involved in the political process and their understanding of urban planning concepts such as walkability.
For the session around creating a growth mindset, youth participated in an interactive and entertaining workshop where they learned how to express themselves and gain confidence with the help of their words. Spoken word artist and activist Messiah Ramkissoon led the workshop and did a wonderful job engaging the youth and having them express themselves through poetry, spoken word and rap.