by Marie Moll, Teen Center Program Manager
This fall, we have five new amazing people on the Teen Center team. Three professional fellows bring so much experience with them from the work they do with youth throughout the world – Egypt, Macedonia, and Mexico. Our interns from Dominican University and George Washington University bring fresh ideas and much enthusiasm. Our three-person team is now an eight-person team, which means more workshops, opportunities, and mentors for the youth we serve.
My name is Noelani Cortina and I am from Chicago, IL. I am a psychology student at Dominican University. I am here in DC through the Washington Internship Institute program and was connected to the LAYC Teen Center through them. During my time at the Teen Center, I hope to learn how to build community and effectively build safe spaces when working with teenagers. The Teen Center has been a perfect place for me to develop those skills that will help me in my future career.
Hi! My name is Noah Wexler and I’m currently a sophomore at George Washington University (GW) in DC, although I’m originally from Broward County Florida. I coordinate Teen Center volunteers from GW for the university’s EngageDC volunteer program. I have also been helping out in the Teen Center and in the Teen Center’s after-school program at Faircliff Plaza West. As someone interested in sustainable development, LAYC is teaching me the importance of education to a community’s long-term success.
I am Lamiaa Bashir from Egypt. I work as an assistant in Non-Governmental Organization unit, World Food Program in Egypt. I am so happy to be part of The Teen Center at LAYC. Through my work at LAYC, I learned a lot about the educational system in the states. Also, I got involved in the planning and the implementation process for the activities that are valuable to me. The Teen Center opened my eyes on talents I had not thought I had. There is still more to learn, and every day is a new day to learn and experience new things.
Hello, My name is Fernanda Garza. I’m 25 years old and I’m from Monterrey, Mexico. I recently graduated college, majoring in English Language Teaching; and I have been working in this field for over five years. I am a social entrepreneur, and a LGBTIQ+ activist. These two areas led me to fund and become President of the ‘It Gets Better Project’ in Mexico, a project in which we give hope to LGBTIQ+ youth. I am also an activist for education. I host conferences on gender and sexual diversity, and I’m a speaker on those topics as well. Just last year I had the chance to become a TEDx speaker.
I believe I ended up at LAYC for a reason. Our visions of the world match, and I’m hoping to learn everything about this center. I’d love to learn how to be sustainable, how to engage the community, and how to create a safe space for everyone to feel welcome. But also, I’m hoping to grow and develop as a person and as a professional. I’m hoping to bring new ideas to LAYC’s table, while I develop myself as a team-player, critical thinker, and relentless doer.
Hello, my name is Aleksandra Ristova and I am coming from Macedonia—a small, nice land in South East Europe. I am a youth worker and an international trainer in non-formal education. Back home, I manage a youth center called creACTive. I am responsible for the youth center’s day-to-day operations including organizational structure, international and local volunteer management, and project management.
Through my fellowship, I am exploring the theme of ‘tolerance and conflict resolution.’ Working at LAYC’s Teen Center with the The Club (a community peace-building program) is a great match with my knowledge and experience. Also, a leader is not a leader if he doesn’t stretch his knowledge, experience, and skills. I am happy for the learning opportunity here as well: the different educational programs for at-risk youth and youth from disadvantaged groups and the different tools and methods that are used here. I am happy to work at the Teen Center, and I am enjoying our diverse team. It’s fun, new, exciting, and challenging. I am sure after my return back home, I’ll keep collaborating with LAYC and the Teen Center, and we will build our overseas network and partnership.