LearnServe International

“Becoming Successful Requires Determination, Motivation, and Taking Action”

By Rebekah Armstrong

Background Information
LearnServe International sparks high school students’ passion to make a difference and equips them with the knowledge, tools, and relationships to effectively drive local solutions to pressing global challenges. They bring together students from all across the Washington, DC area and prepare them with the skills of business leadership, innovative problem-solving and cross-cultural fluency.  They then challenge them to lead community-based change in their schools, across the DC region, and around the world.

Our Experience
A representative from LearnServe International, Scott Rechler, came to School Without Walls to speak to us about what LearnServe does, but also did an activity with us to get us thinking about what change we wish to make. Our guest speaker, Mr. Scott, from Thursday August 1, 2013 had a lot to do with our final presentation of a service project in DC and maybe even Japan. This was a wonderful experience to really reflect and think about our experiences together, what we’ve discussed, and the places/people we have visited. He asked us “What makes you angry?” and the light bulbs went off in everyone’s head. Each group took on a different topic. One group focused on the corruption in the police force, another group on getting youth to be more involved in politics, and the last group focused on bringing different wards together so different ethnicities gained a better understanding of one another. Each person may have had different issues that ticked them off or that they found most important to fix, but in the end we were able to come together and find one pressing issue we could agree on. That is the main focus of the program and it stimulated our minds to begin thinking of what issue for us to make our service project on. This exercise also showed that youths from two different countries can work together to make a change in this world.  Everyone enjoyed this because we could start a discussion about very important topics but it also sparked our interest in finding solutions to those problems. This experience also shed light on LearnServe international as an organization which many may not have heard of before Thursday, and shed light on OUDC (Operation Understanding DC).

The Big Ideas
The title of this page was actually a combination of two sayings Mr. Scott had said to us: “Becoming Successful Requires Determination & Motivation,” and “Don’t wait for things to happen, make it happen”. Those ideas were what we all agreed were the important ideas we took away. Since the US-Japan Youth Exchange is all about making a change, it really stuck with us and inspired us as we began discussing issues and finding one we would try solving. Also the idea “The world is small; think BIG” is LearnServe’s mission statement and is on their website, so we thought that was important to think about. Their mission statement stuck with us because this is a small world and we must think big to make a change and that is exactly what we want to do in DC and in Japan. We will be youth leaders and having Mr. Scott from LearnServe opened our eyes to LearnServe and other youth leaders, but also the topics we care about and wish to change.

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