Aparna’s Farewell to the NYC
Three years is a really long time….or so I thought. June 2012 was one of the most exciting months of my life for a whole variety of reasons, one of which is the National Youth Council. I still remember where I was (my room), and what I was doing (watching Netflix) when I got the call of my acceptance.
It has been a whirlwind of activity since then and I am so lucky to have been a part of this amazing group of dedicated Red Crossers. As my term comes to an end in the next month, I wanted to reflect on everything the Council has taught me, and encourage all of you to dive deep into all that you are passionate about – the rewards are beyond quantifiable!
Over the last three years, my Red Cross adventure has exponentially grown. What started out as a curious inquiry to the front desk volunteer in the building next to my temple grew into a lifelong love of volunteering and service. The Council specifically has given me a greater appreciation for all that the Red Cross does. It has made me a better leader, a better team member and a better person. That first year on the Council, I learned a lot about programs and initiatives, reasons why youth choose us (we are awesome…), and a behind-the-scenes perspective on some of the lines of service that I had less experience with, such as International Services. In that first year on the Council, I met many amazing employees from National, and among them are those that work in International Services, specifically International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
Learning about IHL and the importance of teaching it to youth reminded me of how global the Red Cross is – the International Movement is one of the best humanitarian services in the world, and it is incredibly amazing and humbling to be reminded every day that I am a part of that.
During my second year on the Council, I took on more leadership within our structure and got a chance to connect with my fellow Council members. From rural pockets to urban stretches, our members come from everywhere and it has been an absolute honor to work with all of them. There is almost no call or email that goes by without us reminding each other of the level of “Red Cross crazy” that we are. Probably the best part of the second year, going into the third year, was the opportunity to attend a Model IFRC General Assembly – for youth, by youth – in Seoul last summer. It was an incredible experience to be among so many committed Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers who do so much for their own societies, let alone their international level of involvement. There is so much to learn from the other Societies, and so much to give. Without the Council, I would never have had this experience, and it is one that will resonate with me forever.
As this final year with all the projects, agenda, conference calls, emails and tasks comes to an end, it’s bittersweet of course. While I am sad to be leaving, I am excited for other youth volunteers to get a chance to experience what I did. As with any experience, there were trying times, happy times, sad times, crazy times, but the Council was truly an integral piece of my Red Cross experience. It’s already been nine years with the Red Cross, but I look forward to decades more!