Interning at NARAL has been quite an experience and having the opportunity to continue to work with teens is even better. The TORCH Peer Educators are a wonderful and versatile group on young individuals. Aside from the daily work at NARAL, they are a unique group of teens that love life, teaching, and being young. I have extensive background in youth development and youth education, but working with the TORCH teens have allowed me to acquire a new, and useful set of professional skills.
Learning to be open-minded and honest are skills that not every employer looks for in a resume or an interview. However, these are skills that are required when working with youth and this is what I learned from working with TORCH for the last 4 weeks. When topics about sexual and reproductive health and medical care come up, teens have a lot to say. It can be easily interpreted that teens are rambunctious and blurt certain things out that are either confusing or just plain crazy. However, teens do have the right to speak their minds nevertheless, tell you how they want they want to be treated by their doctors. Being open-minded and allowing new ideas to circulate in your understanding of the teens nature is critical in working with them. Unknowingly, we judge and criticize teens for being this aggressive, but it is who they are. What we can do as adults, is simply be aware and have open-minds when working with teens. Without passing judgment, we as adults, should always support the ideas and thoughts of teens. Now, these thoughts must be positive thoughts and ideas that foster positive youth development – not ideas or thought that promote the opposite. This is away that teens can relate to you – even as an adult- you have the ability to become one with them, while still allowing mutual respect between the teacher and the student.
Learning to be honest and open with teens, is a very useful tool. It can allow you to be honest and open with other individuals you might be working with. When teens are given the chance to change, and by that I mean their behavior and decisions, teens are self-promoting and creating a brighter future for themselves. However, this can not be possible, if youth providers do not have open-minds and open-hearts to also learn from teens, but teach them as well.