Journeys in Film: Creating Youth Leaders One Film at a Time

Rebekah Barrera, Arts & Entertainment Editor

   “Being a youth leader means having an impact on the people around you and being a role model in your community. The youth has more of an opportunity now than ever to make a change… any positive difference they make can never be too small.”

   Shivraj Singh, Founder and President of the Journeys in Film (JIF) club at PPCHS, took to Academic Village Middle (AVM) this past February 24 to share the importance of being a youth leader—all whilst being one himself.

   Founded this school year, the Journeys in Film Club (an extension of the nonprofit organization) was created with the purpose of using the storytelling power of film to educate surrounding communities. And after weeks of watching numerous short films under the theme of “Youth Leaders”, JIF members finally took the lessons they learned and applied them to the world directly in front of them.

   For each of the three eighth grade classes JIF spoke to—all taught by AVM’s Ms.Carson—middle school students were met with a thorough, yet fun dive into youth leadership: what it is, why they should be one, and how they can be one.

   Why start with the middle schoolers, however? Junior Shivraj strongly believes, “It’s very crucial that they have the support and help they need to start making a change, since they are the ones who will become our future leaders. Any positive change in [our] community is crucial to building the best environment.” Vice President and junior Sonia Ally further built on these ideas with the classes by explaining that such initiative allows for the empowerment of each young individual and fosters an even greater wave of diversity.

   Ultimately, the club wanted to put heavy emphasis on the fact that a person is never too young to make a difference in their community, and even in the world. “By hearing these words come out of the mouths of kids who are almost the same age or in the same generation as them, the eighth graders can better find such loaded ideas to be more relatable or doable,” JIF’s Secretary, junior Amogh Baranwal affirms. “I really hope they find it as fun as it is important to be a leader, not just obligation.”

   To put a spotlight on this fun, club members followed their mini lecture with a classic team-building activity: creating a tower with unusual materials. With only toothpicks and gumdrops provided, teams of three to four students were given 20 minutes to build the tallest freestanding tower. While the middle schoolers were buried in concentration for the entirety of the time limit, what they didn’t realize was their subconscious training them to lead and/or efficiently cooperate with the people around them.

   One eighth grade participant, Leo Hillock grasped these concepts after winning the competition with his friends. “It taught me teamwork… and that the base is everything. If you have a structure, then everything will go on top, and everything will work out… and that leadership is everything. If you have a good leader, then everything will build around that,” he noted.

   As a parting gift, JIF board members left classes with advice to take with them for the future. Specifically, they shared tips on how to be a leader in highschool, such as joining summer programs, volunteering, running for student council, and starting a club.

   As the Journeys in Film Club continues to educate the communities around them, they cultivate young activists one film at a time. More details about the club can be found on their Instagram, @ppchsjourneysinfilm.