A week out from finishing the incredible Summer Institute, and we are still humbled by its success. We hosted over 115 students, double the number from last year. Youth from across Silicon Valley spent a full week of their summer break developing their debate chops, learning about important issues, and building a community.
The Summer Institute is critical to the success of the coming season. As Program Director Ms. T says, "It's often a student's first experience with debate; if the camp is bad, kids think debate is boring, not for them, or not something they would want to do. When the Institute is engaging, kids want debate as a part of their lives." Staff worked tirelessly to assure there was something for everyone, including the vital opportunity to engage in debate and then engage the world as a debater - a person who thinks for themselves, asks questions, challenges the status quo, and goes forward with confidence. These skills are not only essential for becoming a successful debater, but critical to success in school, work and becoming a changemaker in the world.
Along with inspiring debate labs, students experienced a workshop and performance by Grammy-nominated artist Maimouna Youseff, a panel and lunch with legal career mentors, a panel and lunch with successful philanthropists and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2). Alums Destiny and Mariam hosted a VIP tour, showing the articulate, poised, confident young women SVUDL helped them become. The energy of intellectual growth and social change swirled in every classroom by the last day.
It's our deepest hope that youth leave the Institute with the solid "faith that change can happen" and that they can be part of making it happen, as Program Director Shauntrice Martin describes it. She further elucidates, "the mainstream debate community fails to value marginalized voices. We need more organizations willing to dedicate resources to amplifying our perspectives. The SVUDL Summer institute embodies what it means to invest in our communities."