Youth for Change: A beautiful mosaic of humanity

Each year in our Youth for Change Camps, we host a diverse group of students hailing from various ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.  Throughout the 4-5 day period, working over the theme of human rights, we witness the creation of a beautiful mosaic of humanity in which the whole outshines the individual.

View photos from the Youth for Change Camps 2014.

Read the poem:  Thank God I met you, brother by Nikil Sinha, SAS

“I’ve asked myself many times why I keep coming back to Stairway, but more than that, I ask myself why I keep wanting to bring people to Stairway. Talking with my teammates just a few days ago, more than a month and a half after our visit, I realized why. For many of them, it was clear that Stairway had the most profound impact on the way they saw the Philippines, its beauty, and its potential. Tourists often come to see our beaches and eat our fruits, but these volunteers came to meet our children. But more than that, it changed the way they saw the world–that beyond the red brick buildings and cobble-stoned pathways of this Ivy League school, there are so many injustices to right, many hardships to overcome, and so much more to live for.”

Michi Ferreol, Harvard Student

“I left Stairway a changed person, with a vision for education and social change. During my time there, I was able to inflect upon my experiences and views, re-evaluating them in light of what I had learned from both the kids and the foundation. Stairway showed me that there was hope – that anyone could make an impact”

-Luke, Harvard student

“At our parent coffee yesterday I had a few parents approach me to let me know the impact Stairway has had on their child.  One parent mentioned how her daughter is now a junior and continues to talk about Stairway and her experience there.  One other said her son Adi from this trip has been a totally different person the last week.  He has talked non-stop about the Stairway family and how impressed he was with the connection the kids and adults had there.  He’s never experienced so much love and he wants his family to go and spend time there.

Marc St. Laurent, Counselor, International School Manila

“Another activity was making a mosaic out of broken, colored, pieces of plastic. We worked together, handing pieces and glue to each other, so that in no time at all we were finished. Only after all the other groups had finished did we realize that we were each making pieces of a bigger puzzle. The final product was a flower and we each decorated one side of it. This made me realize the true purpose of Stairway. The sense of family was the dominating feeling in here. We were all part of a bigger picture, of which if one piece were removed, the picture wouldn’t be complete. Each time we sat together in the dining area, there was a feeling of satisfaction that was difficult to describe. The laughter, boisterous chatter, and playful bickering gave the feel of a huge, close-knit family.

Before we left we wrote down our many reflections. Some of the girls and I made letters for our buddies. We took our last photos, and almost instantly the smiles were replaced by tears—tears that we shed as we boarded the boat and yelled our goodbyes to the Stairway boys. I watched their faces as they waved back from the beach and scenes from the past five days flashed in my mind.

Stairway will surely be an unforgettable experience, I thought, as my gaze fell on my companions’ teary faces. Just then my friend said, ‘Don’t cry because you left. Smile because you were there.'”

Andrea, International School Manila

After 4 days with these amazing children, I learned so much about street children and their pasts.  I learned about happiness, love, appreciation, and so much more that I’m never going to forget.  I can’t thank every single one of the boys enough for what they’ve done for me.  I would give so much just to live this experience one more time.

-David Lu, Singapore American School

Overall, the name of the trip definitely defines the result of it all, my life has been changed, partly from the seeing the street kids in Manila, but mostly because I realized that there are solutions to everything, Lars and Monica are proof of that. What they have done has truly inspired me, it puts my life in comparison, I know I’m only sixteen, but for the future, would I really be able to look back and ask myself: “What good have I done to help this planet?”. That it was I hope to accomplish, I hope to at least, to some extent, do what Lars and Monica do, and help others without asking for anything in return. This trip has grounded me and prevented me from being so ignorant to think that problems within third world countries are non pertinent to my life.

-Michael Albanes, Singapore American School