Generation Citizen program inspires university sophomores

Shyam Nooredeen

This semester 10 university students participated in a twelve-week sophomore program called Generation Citizen –- a program that partners college students with public schools to teach a civic action course. During the course, teens identify an issue and develop ways in which they would like to address it.

Sarah Khan, junior, taught at Brooklyn High School of Law and Technology and said, “It was a really interesting experience. It definitely had its challenges, but I absolutely loved every minute of it. I got to meet some really wonderful kids and watch them grow to really caring about our issue. Seeing them work so hard in these final weeks to bring everything together just makes me feel so proud of them.”

Ann Marie Pavia, an Economics major, directs the university’s GC chapter. Pavia supports democracy coaches, the name given to GC college mentors, by conducting weekly meetings to ensure that they are having their concerns addressed. Should they need further support, GC also allows one to co-mentor with another democracy coach throughout the twelve-week period.

Francis Galvez, senior, said, “I was lucky enough to have a hard working and competent co-democracy coach that helped me a lot throughout the semester. I had a lot of fun with the high school students. They were smart and attentive. It was a pleasure to work with them.” Galvez taught at Baruch College Campus High School.

Although the nation emphasizes the participation of citizens in government, there are individuals from low-income and minority groups who choose not to participate. GC’s mission is to empower young people to become engage and effective members of society.

Before becoming a democracy coach, candidates are required to complete a two-day training session in which they will be given comprehensive details of the curriculum, and shown how to develop and implement a lesson and action plan. All of the lessons are pre-planned in the curriculum handbook.

For many democracy coaches, the initial thought of this commitment is intimidating. However, as they begin training and observing classrooms, these feelings usually dissipate.

Classroom sizes vary, thus some democracy coaches are responsible for groups ranging from eight to nearly forty students. However, larger classrooms are always given two democracy coaches.

Davina Zarnighian, junior, said, “I am teaching at Baruch College Campus High School and I took part in GC because I thought it would be interesting, [and] a challenge because I am not an advocate. The experience has taught me so much and I found out I am capable of doing things that I never though I could.”

After students have identified their issue and developed an action plan, GC enables them to present these plans on Civics Day. GC classes from around the city gather at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian to present their projects to lawmakers, principals, business leaders and other decision makers. Should you be interested in attending Civics Day, it will be held at the Smithsonian in downtown, Manhattan on December 11th, 11am – 2pm.

GC is currently recruiting for the Spring 2013 semester. Interested students should send an email to Ann Marie Pavia at [email protected].