Usher's New Look Disruptivstor Summit was a well-rounded 3-day trip. This was a learning experience for all involved. The selection process of the Littles by staff showed us that we need to talk more to all our parents/guardians about proper forms of identification for Littles. When preparing the Littles and their parents to be away from home and discussing TSA requirements and travel safety it showed that this trip would be more exposure than they expected. Having said that, I had to have conversations with the Littles about having a buddy system and situational awareness. During our time at the airport, we talked about proper travel etiquette, fear of flying, learning how important it is to check emails for flight updates and where to get assistance while in the airport.
AnaLaura, Kendra, Kristen and Shantia had never interacted with each other until they arrived at the airport, so they had to learn how to communicate and build trust with one another. By the time we landed in Atlanta, the bond between the Littles was solidified. Listening to them share with each other their music choices, movie interests and their opinions on relationships was intriguing. They had no issues or complaints with the assigned sleeping arrangements, nor did they have any conflicts with one another during their stay in the dorm suite. I watched them compete against one another and advocate for each other within a couple of minutes. They shared their thoughts on their excursions and workshops, as well as who they met and who they took pictures with, which sparked more positive conversations.
They openly shared with me their disappointments with several participants and how they felt like they were seen as outsiders by those who were more familiar with Usher’s New Look programming. I asked them what they came to the summit for and before they answered I told them to keep their answer to themselves but use that as their motivation throughout the entire summit. From that point on, I watched them become more motivated, more engaged, more assertive, and more social. They began networking with their peers and began to use their voice more. That was a win for Big Brothers Big Sisters because the Littles not only wore BBBS paraphernalia but whenever the Littles were given a platform, they used the opportunity to mention Big Brothers Big Sisters in a meaningful type of way.
Usher’s New Look Disruptivator Summit programming was very age appropriate and well organized, which I feel is important when trying to keep the youth focused and on task. By having the youth focused on their “spark,” it made the Littles have to focus on their own wants and interests instead of staying in their comfort zone, which was each other. The empowerment and leadership skills presented to the youth were realistic and the information was delivered to the youth in a very professional manner but in the youth’s language. I could tell that it was palatable to them because of how they discussed afterwards, which led me to believe they were active listeners. They left the summit motivated and encouraged to be DISRUPTIVATORS.