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What Our Young Ambassadors Have Already Taught Us

Jim Hall
Fri 5 Apr, 2019

Our Young Ambassadors Programme is up and running, and as our programme manager Jim Hall tells us, we're already making great steps together.

“I want to teach people about the world, so we don’t fail it.”

These words, uttered by one of our fourteen Young City Of Literature Ambassadors, capture the ambition of three powerful induction sessions that took place at Nottingham Central Library, Waterstones and The Karimia Institute, guiding our ambassadors through what to expect in their role of championing the act of reading and writing for pleasure throughout the city.

One of three training workshops our Young Ambassadors will attend will be on how to interview a writer or professional creative. We set them the task of interviewing each other in preparation and uncovered some interesting facts in the process:

Everyone should eat kale chips. Dance recitals matter. Being on 19 different flights is an experience. Queen are a band that deserve your ears. 368 notes = way too many to have on a single phone. You can’t have weird habits if you self-identify as weird. Formula 1 is everything.

Our Young Ambassadors will read, review and champion the books that they feel matter to them and should matter to the city of Nottingham. Here is a sample of who and what they are already reading:

Harper Lee. George Orwell. Crime thrillers. Anne Holloway. Tomi Adeyemi. Angie Thomas. Books that make me cry-laugh. Matt Haig. Dystopian fiction. Khaled Hosseini. Audio books.

and why they read:

To relate. Emotionally connect. Experience varied perspectives. Tear down stereotypes. To be transported to different worlds and in doing so, learn more about our own.

Our Ambassadors each selected a mentor to help them realise their creative ambitions over the course of the project. Here are some qualities they feel would make an ideal mentor:

Someone who challenges you. Gives constructive feedback. Laid back, weird, witty.

Pushes you to your full potential. Someone to relate to. Who listens. Who responds. Is compassionate. Warm. Makes you feel like your thoughts are valid. Helps you get started.

Later in the year, our ambassadors will support launch and champion a creative writing competition on the theme of social justice. Here’s what the theme brought up for them:

The glass ceiling. Frustrating stigmas. Equality. Freedom from misrepresentation, stereotypes and prejudice. The gender pay gap. The permission to be anything you want, regardless of how you were born, where you were raised. Having opportunities for all, created by all. Free will.

We felt it important to give the Young Ambassadors space to consider what they wanted to get out of their role. Here are their ambitions:

To have confidence in my ideas. Broaden my horizons. Be able to express myself in new ways. Have more belief in my own voice. Spread the pure joy I receive from the written word.

... and what the teachers supporting this project hope their students will gain from the experience:

I want their creative passions to be nurtured. That they have fun. To be encouraged in who they already are. For their voices to be heard.

We’ll close with the words of Young Ambassador Amel, when asked how she found her induction day experience:

‘I felt at home. I've gained an even larger love for reading and writing that I hope, we, as a team, are able to share in the future with the local community. I am very excited to see what we will do next.’

Keep following our website and social media channels to find out.

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Young Ambassadors reading schoold literature

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