by Jeffrey Caliedo
"The Mississippi Youth Media Project is a safe space for promoting diverse ideas and encouraging a creative environment where every student feels and is respected and accepted regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation or religious background."
As the words echoed throughout the focused room, I felt a smile creep upon my lips.
"...regardless of race, class, gender, sexual orientation or religious background."
Quietly repeating the words to myself, I looked up and through the open spacious window. Staring out past the vast city into what became a gray abyss, I reached an epiphany. I realized that this was the moment in which I would finally find a place where I was truly accepted for me.Spending my summer in an office space was an idea that both excited and terrified me. Walking toward the towering building that greeted me proved to be a task that would be more challenging than I thought. Eventually, I managed to muster enough courage to move my feet and find my way to my destination on the 13th floor. As I entered the YMP office, I immediately noticed a common sense of anxiety and nervousness in the room.
by Ariel Willingham
When my mom told me she signed me up for this project, my immediate thought was a definite no. I didn't want to do this and was already thinking of a way to get myself out of it. By the time the pizza party rolled around, I started to get nervous.
My parents and I arrived, and while it wasn't so bad, I was still very nervous and couldn't go through with it. Just walking in the room and seeing everyone was making me even more nervous. I wasn't used to being around kids I didn't know. It kept running through my head that I couldn't do this program this summer, but after a talk with my parents I decided that I would do it. During this summer I would try my best to overcome my nervousness, work on my social skills, and interact with new people and new things.
by Meché Leflore
My YMP experience so far has been very ... different to say the least. When I first pulled up to the Capital Towers, I was so nervous! I was behind schedule because I did a deed by picking up my friend, and fellow YMP student, Maisie, because she had to go to her father's job early. As Maisie and I entered the parking garage, my stomach sank to the floor. If you've never been inside a parking garage, it's dark ... very dark, even during the day. From the roof to the floor, it's approximately 10 feet of nothing but concrete.
As I drove up floor to floor, desperately looking for a spot, I couldn't help but think, "Oh my God, I'm already late for my first day and now I can't even find a parking space?" I was STRESSED! I had to remain calm because I was with Maisie, and she was a veteran at this, so I could not wear my emotions on my sleeves.
by Jonathan Buckley
So I'm already awkward as heck, so when I walked into the YMP newsroom, which was full of new people who I was not sure if I was going to like anyway, I tried to be as unseen as possible. And then a teacher—I'm not sure what else to call them since we are students—named Emily had us play a game. I was thinking to myself, "Oh cool, I like games. This won't be awkward."
Then, we had to do stuff like touching people's noses with our fingertips and having elbows on each other's knees. When we did this, we had to talk to each other like this wasn't weird, and I was thinking to myself, "Are y'all CRAZY???"
When we did this, though, I met some pretty cool people who I am sort of friends with already. I really don't want to say friends because it has only been three days for knowing these people.
I guess the moral of the story is that no matter how awkward I am, there is something always more awkward than I am.
by Maisie Brown
My experience during my second summer at YMP has been nothing short of amazing. Even though we’ve only been here for a few days this summer, I will alway cherish the friendships and happiness I’ve received. From the first day I arrived, there seemed to be a sea of fresh, excited faces seemingly eager to dive into the work ahead. I’ve met and engaged with so many different kinds of people at one time. The moment we all met, there was an instant bond where we knew we could communicate freely and respectfully within our groups.
I also found that the returning students all changed in many ways. Sean was taller than I’d remembered, Maggie’s balance had become increasingly worse, and my tedious makeup practice over the year had finally given me a full face of pay-off. Seeing the familiar faces, along with new excited faces, eased any sense of nervousness or doubt I had before entering the building.
by Z'eani Furdge
Last year in the Youth Media Project, I was very scared and just kept to myself. I never spoke unless I was spoken to, didn't speak up during discussions, and was just a plain-out mess!
Being here now, I feel like I have grown and made much more progress since last year. Although I was still kind of nervous and scared when YMP started this year, I feel I opened up quicker and had more confidence in talking and meeting new people. I am glad my mom pushed me to come back because I would not have met the amazing, awesome and talented people I've met this year!
My experience this summer in YMP so far has been great. I have met so many awesome and talented people. Even though we haven't known each other for that long, it feels like we have because everyone is open to meeting each other. I enjoy how the mentors engage us in interaction with each other and help us to really get to know each other.
by Leslyn Smith
Walking into the building of the Youth Media Project on June 1 was nerve-wrecking. I walked in late, then went to the wrong floor. I didn't know anyone. I was so nervous. There were so many reasons to be nervous. One of them was being the only student from Callaway High School, and walking into a place where you don't know anybody is a little frustrating. Will anybody like you? Will anybody want to talk to you? But the students at YMP are so open and friendly.
The YMP staff are great. They make you feel like you belong. After sitting around for 15 minutes, they wanted us to make appointments with people in the room. My mouth dropped. In my head I was thinking, "Who Leslyn, no I'm not." But then I was like, "I'm here. I might as well just go ahead and do it."
by Aja Purvis
"Be safe and have a great day! I love you, too!" I yelled out to my mom as I exited her black truck, heading toward the entrance of the Capital Towers. I quickly fell into the routine to which I have grown accustomed over the past few years: Monroe's before the 13th floor.
I pulled on the glass door of Monroe's, the smell of sweets hitting me instantly. Refreshing. I ordered the usual, a half dozen doughnut holes. Total: $1.64. After paying, I exited the small shop, and made a right, surprised that I hadn't noticed before. The doors leading to the lobby were gone.
Nonetheless, I continued my journey to the elevator, pushing the button and waiting patiently. I anticipated the day I'd be back here, in this building. My head nearly exploded with the questions I asked myself.
by Chloe Bishop
When I first walked into the YMP office, I immediately felt excitement rush into me. The first thing I saw was the Marilyn Monroe cardboard cutout and knew I would like spending my summer days here. Then I turned the corner to a colorful area.
It was early morning when I arrived, so the place was pretty empty. Only two other girls were there. I took all of it in and felt overwhelmed and enthusiastic. I thought to myself, "What is it going to be like when we begin? What will I learn here?" When everyone started to arrive, my journey began.
The first few days were rough for me. As an introvert, I'm not comfortable around complete strangers, so of course I was a little mad when Emily Henderson made us do meet-and-greet exercises. It was completely awkward talking to and asking strangers questions. Sometimes the atmosphere was so awkward that neither my partner or I could say anything to make it better.
by Makallen Kelley
In today’s world, it is a common misconception that the most successful people become successful on their own. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that if you turn on the radio, you will hear songs proclaiming the act of grinding by themselves or getting to the top on their own. Although many may think this way, I’ve come to understand that this is not the case. Conrado I. Generoso said it best when he stated that “no man is capable of self-improvement if he sees no other model but himself.”
By the end of my junior year, I knew without a doubt that mentorship was the key to succeeding at my goals, which is exactly what I got when I entered the Mississippi Youth Media Project.