In my time at UNC, I have especially enjoyed learning about diverse communities across the state through research, class projects, and service learning opportunities.
Last semester, I had the privilege of taking Anthropology 395, an experimental learning course that partners with Carolina Across 100 (CX100)’s Our State, Our Work (OSOW) program. Teams of two students were paired with a community collaborative team participating in the OSOW program which focuses on “Opportunity Youth” – young adults from the ages of 16 to 24 who are not working full-time or part-time and not enrolled in any type of school or educational program.
In my case, I was assigned to Team 10 where the Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board (ECWDB) coordinates services for a 9-county region including Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, and Wayne counties. Their work centers on reaching as many opportunity youth as possible with the intention of putting them on a career path that supports their financial prosperity and overall well-being.
I partnered with a fellow classmate in supporting ECWBD and working closely with the team’s project manager. One of our main tasks included compiling lists of agencies that work with young adults 16-24 and anyone who has shown interest across the eight counties. As someone who is completely unfamiliar with the general geography and educational opportunities across this region of the state, it was eye-opening to learn about the diversity of organizations working to support this population of young people and to better understand how they do and don’t already collaborate with one another.
Additionally, during our time in the course, we presented ideas for slogans to be used on billboards across the region as a way to grab young people’s attention and increase outreach opportunities for ECWBD. Making a concentrated effort to reach opportunity youth within the specific counties is extremely important because living in isolated counties (especially in more coastal areas of North Carolina) can make it difficult for young adults to feel part of a close-knit community that believes in their innate potential both educationally and career-wise despite any academic or financial obstacles put forward by their individual circumstances.
Overall, it was both a pleasure and privilege to aid in any way that I could in the effort to reach opportunity youth across the diverse nine-county region in eastern NC and to help promote a more prosperous future for these communities.