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Through the eyes of the volunteers: Impact Cafés on Mental Health

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Welcome to a brand new blog segment called “Through the eyes of the youth”!

The purpose of this blog segment is to provide the chance for our youth volunteers to share with the rest of the world how they experience participating in our activities. It’s a beautiful moment where our youth volunteers get to recapitulate what they have learned, their favorite moments, and the impact that the experience had on them as young people.

For the purpose of this blog, Michayla van Varsseveld, a volunteer from the University of Aruba will share how she experienced participating as a Co-Host in Impact Café. This Impact Café is one of the activities that fall under the project Curason pa Curason which is financially supported by Fonds 21. Let’s read about what she has to say!

“Hello! My name is Michayla van Varsseveld. I am currently a first-year student at the University of Aruba studying Social Work & Development! I am volunteering for HCLF with the end goal of writing a report. In order to write the report, I have to finish 48-hours of volunteer work for school. For this special blog, I will be sharing with you all how I experienced being a Co-Host at the Impact Café that was held in Abraham De Veer on November 19th. It was my first experience working with other people and especially interacting with the youth. Originally I was unsure of what to expect and was therefore quite nervous. Being a young individual also contributed to the nervousness. Having just graduated from secondary school and coming out of the high school experience, it was a different experience being the one to give the workshop instead of participating in it. However, after having a crash course training and going over the event with HCLF, I felt a lot more prepared.

As I have previously mentioned, for this Impact Café I was assigned the role of Co-Host. As a Co-Host, I needed to make sure every youngster was doing well and contributing to the conversations. The experience as a whole was enlightening, from preparing materials beforehand to sitting with the youngsters and talking to them. My group consisted of 6 girls. A remarkable memory I have from that experience is seeing how the girls slowly opened up through the session. At first, they expressed that they often ignored their feelings and did not talk about them. But with each question that was presented, they felt more confident to share their thoughts. Having to interact with other young people while being young myself, I was skeptical about how well I would be able to interact with them, but I quickly learned during the session that there was nothing to worry about; in fact, I think being young myself helped the youngsters feel more comfortable to express themselves.

An experience I will definitely take on with me is the general knowledge I have learned on how the preparations are made for such events and how to interact with the youngsters during the Impact Cafés. I learned how to approach different situations such as the types of questions to ask and the demeanor I should have. Thank you for reading about my experience!"

In November we organized 5 Impact Cafés at 3 secondary schools in San Nicolas as part of the Curason pa Curason project. Curason pa Curason aims to normalize the conversation on mental health among youth. We still have a couple of Impact Cafés under this project, stay tuned for them in 2022!

Did you enjoy reading “Through the eyes of the youth? You can anticipate reading more “Reading through the eyes of the youth” within future blogs!

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