Top 5 of 2013: George Luna-Peña – Generation Justice

This was our first ever Open House and we were joined by friends, family, community members, and partners. I’m not sure if we’ve ever had that many people that care so deeply about Generation Justice under one roof, and it was just a FUN time. We watched videos, we broke bread (cake, really), we listened to some incredible spoken word, we shared stories and hugs, and we took silly pictures. How could I keep that out of my top 5 list? I couldn’t.

This summer, the Generation Justice office felt a bit cozier with two amazing alumnae that joined us: Jonquilyn and Lucia. Not only was it great to see two previous youth producers come back, but their impact was felt in every aspect of our work: from radio, to trainings, to blogging, and more. They must both still relive and practice their Youth Radio days during their down time, because neither one of them missed a step on mic or with interviews. Also, Jonquilyn and Lucia consistently brought it in the positive attitude department. Can’t say enough about those two!

When you’ve worked with youth producers for years, you have an opportunity to see them tackle complex concepts, ideas, and issues, push themselves in productive ways, and consistently learn from each other. You see them change in some really awesome ways. And then when you see them put on a cap and gown, walk across the stage, receive their high school diploma, and embrace the next big step in their life, it’s a pretty special thing. Not least of which because you realize they’ve taught you, and you’ve changed just as much because of their presence, their energy, and their knowledge. Congrats again to all of our graduates this year: Jazlin, Haarika, Arturo, Luna, Andrew, and Melissa… Keep doing good stuff!

We really couldn’t have found two better people to be our first ever Generation Justice Fellows. Pauly and Jason have not only been a pleasure to have in our offices, but it’s an honor to work with two young people of color committed to changing the face of journalism (something that is desperately needed). And I have absolutely no doubt that they’ll shake things up in a good way. All the work that went into the conceptualization, development, and implementation of the fellows program (and trust, it was a lot of work!) is paying off in big ways now.

I remember I was sitting in the very back of the room, updating our various social media accounts, and our twitter feed absolutely blew up with praise for Victor. It was quite a sight to see. On top of the crowd’s reaction, which also included an extended standing ovation, it was simply a pleasure to listen to Victor tell his story: his hardships and struggles as well as his triumphs, laughs, and loves. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room after Victor finished his speech at the OYE Conference. My favorite line from his speech: “Always come from a place of love and everything will work itself out.” Thanks Victor!