This year, for the first time ever, Youthlinc implemented service experience trips for volunteers to take part in locally. These served as an opportunity not only for humanitarians who were unable to travel internationally this year due to COVID-19, but also for participants to see the many ways they can serve in meaningful ways in their own backyards.
Refugee Service Festival
The Refugee Service Festival took place from June 14-18. This commuter experience based in Salt Lake gave humanitarians the opportunity each day to learn about refugees through various speakers from different countries and walks of life. The week started with a presentation given by Gerald Brown, who oversees the Know Your Neighbor Program at the Refugee Services division for the Department of Workforce Services. Gerald shared the definition of a refugee, refugee statistics around the world and in Utah, and why it is important that Utahns make an extra effort to befriend our refugee neighbors. Throughout the rest of the week, participants also heard from refugees from Myanmar (formerly Burma), the Congo, Tanzania, and Nepal. During the week, participants were able to learn more about the culture of various countries and ethnic groups through food, music, and dance. Participants also took part in a daily service project at the Youthlinc office including preparing tie blankets and Bears of Hope for new refugees entering the Salt Lake Valley.
Each afternoon, Youthlinc partnered with the Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah to assist with running summer programming at the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center. This programming was based around “Survivor-themed” challenges. At the start of the week, students were divvyed up in “tribes” and given the opportunity to select team names. Each participant then decorated a buff with their name and their team’s name. Throughout the rest of the week, each “tribe” competed in various challenges including a relay race featuring mystery drinks, a flamingo stand competition, a water balloon toss challenge, and a hike to Donut Falls. Each competing team was awarded points for their performance. At the end of the week, each “tribe” was awarded prizes based on the sum of their teams points and a fun fair was held to celebrate each teams’ efforts. The Refugee Service Festival concluded on Friday with World Refugee Day, which is an event held every year to celebrate the resiliency of all refugees who have come to find their homes right here in Utah.
If you, like our Refugee Service Festival participants, feel a passion and drive to help refugees in Utah, consider helping in the following ways:
And most importantly: never forget the difference a friendly face can make.
Four Corners Past and Present
The Four Corners Past and Present trip began on June 21 with a drive down to Blanding, UT. Upon arrival, the team was greeted by Bob McPherson, a former Utah State Professor, and an expert on Native American history. Bob educated the team on the significance of the Four Directions (east, south, north, and west) and explained the history of the nomadic origins of many of the tribes in the Four Corners area. He also showed the team a teepee, sweat lodge, and a Hogan, while answering any additional questions that Youthlinc humanitarians had. The following two days, the team had the pleasure to work with the White Mesa Education Center and create a day camp for their students, exploring and utilizing, Crime Scene Investigation tools and skills including blood, fiber, DNA, and handwriting analysis. Students were tasked with analyzing evidence and thinking like a detective to solve a series of fake crimes including a kidnapping and the case of a missing mascot.
Once the day camp with White Mesa was complete, the team had the opportunity to explore the Edge of Cedars Museum as well as the Bears Ears National Monument. The team had a wonderful experience, seeing Native American ruins such as Butler Wash Ruins, House on Fire, Moki Dugway, and Goosenecks State Park, while learning about the rich history of the Four Corners area. The team finished the day overlooking and enjoying the views of Monument Valley. On the last day prior to the return home, the team assisted with a service project in Douglas Mesa to help a Navajo grandmother. Due to the drought conditions and intense heat in Utah this year, she was concerned about having shade for her sheep and goats and making sure that they were able to stay cool this summer. The team helped by completely dismantling her old sheep pen and building a new one, offering sustainable shade for her sheep for many years to come.