Sixteen-year-old DeShawn Ford acknowledges that meeting a bunch of new people – especially from far-flung places – takes him out of his comfort zone. But now, Ford says he can appreciate diversity in a new light.
Ford and a group of teens from New Community welcomed visiting international students to NCC, where they toured one of the largest community development corporations in the nation to learn about social entrepreneurship. About 100 visitors from a dozen countries around the globe took part in a cultural exchange with teens from Newark as part of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Social Ventures for Social Development seminar. Countries represented included Bolivia, China and Saudi Arabia, among others.
Earlier in the day, visitors like Jiyeong Ha toured four sites to see NCC’s vast network of services in action at the Automotive Training Center, Community Hills Early Learning Center, New Community Commons Senior health clinic and the ShopRite miniature store.
Ha, 24, of South Korea, observed that New Community’s model of social entrepreneurship generates wealth within the community but also builds relationships with the people served. She said she “likes the way NCC is a leader.”
As part of a lesson on NCC’s history, Ford and his peers in New Community’s summer program called the Newark Youth Leadership Project and Newark One Stop performed a dramatic skit depicting the racial tensions that led to the summer disorders of 1967. The teens acted out how NCC was formed through the leadership of Monsignor William J. Linder. Afterwards, the group sang the song “Lean On Me,” led by vocalist Essence Rivera.
The reenactment was part of a lunchtime program held at St. Joseph Plaza, where NCC CEO Richard Rohrman and other officials gave remarks. Over a lunch of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and collard greens, the students from Newark and around the world began building bonds.
The Social Ventures for Social Development seminar is an intensive certificate-based mini-course developed by FDU with support of the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, an organization promoting youth leadership and peace through cultural exchanges.
Ford said he “would do this event again.”
As part of the cultural exchange, a group of NCC teens also had the opportunity to visit the United Nations in New York City to participate in the annual Youth Assembly, which draws hundreds of students from around the globe.
Intern Katherine Angulo contributed to this report.