In the past few months, the young people of this program (of which I am a part) alongside the professionals helping us have started to build the beginnings of this wonderful opportunity- although we’ve only had our first few meetings, I have had a bubbling mix of excitement and passion to delve into my Middle Eastern roots creatively grow inside of me. Even during my introductory workshop in December, meeting some of the artists we will be working with, hearing everyone’s thoughts and having such open discussions, left me buzzing with happiness and warmth despite the wind and cold rain that saw me back to the centre of Manchester.
Immediately, I signed up for the youth leadership team because from that first day I knew I wanted to put as much as myself as I could into this program. A chance to learn more about my own historical culture and create something inspired by detailed research was like a dream come true. The leaders of the program were very kind and understanding by letting us know that we could opt out whenever we want and there would be no judgement, but I could never even have the thought pass through my mind.
The next few meetings I went to were for the youth leadership team to think together and learn the overall structure of the next few months – those kind of things that seem quite mundane. However, the team managed to weave in interesting information and engagement into these hours. For example, when we were structuring what we would be doing over the next few months, I also learned about Cuneiform for the first time! This is an ancient system of writing in the Middle East that I had never heard of before. Not only this, but our minds were kept in gear as we were asked to think as a group about things like ‘what makes a good leader?’ or ‘what do you think should be in the code of ethics?’
A couple of weeks ago, we had our first meeting with everyone who had signed up to the program and it was really energising to see how interested the other members were and to find people around my age who were just as excited. I could really appreciate the balance of a casual environment that still allows serious discussion and learning, and doing my small bit to help lead the sessions helped to boost my confidence and better introduce myself to the other members. Of course I can’t miss out the lovely gesture Caitlin made – it had been my birthday earlier in the week and she had brought homemade cupcakes for everyone. They were lemon flavoured and absolutely delicious, I had to take one home to my mum and she loved it too. Aside from it being a really kind action, it was also a good way to bring the people in the program closer together and inspire more comfortability. Again, this is another example of how well thought out the sessions are, and how no hour is wasted, achieving multiple small goals at once.
All in all, this program has been a beacon of light in my busy days (as dramatic as that may be) and I can’t help but, even now, smile at the thought of the progress that is to come of it. Soon, it will be our visit to Manchester Museum, and that is where our work will really have its first blooms, and I cannot wait for the exploration, inspiration, and realisations that will accompany the day.