Youth Help Youth promotes education through entrepreneurship project

Youth Help Youth members sold rugs in the AACA lobby to support Barakat’s education programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Image courtesy of Sherry Xue.)

Asian American Civic Association’s Youth Council convened this summer to participate in the weekly Youth Help Youth entrepreneurship project. Students worked to raise money for Cambridge nonprofit Barakat, an organization that sponsors schools education in Afghanistan and Pakistan for girls and women.

AACA’s Youth Help Youth project met regularly during the summer to coordinate the sale of handmade rugs. (Image courtesy of Sherry Xue.)

The entrepreneurship project Youth Help Youth was started with seed money from United Way, under the supervision of AACA interim Youth Council coordinator Sherry Xue. The students met to discuss the purchase of tribal, handmade rugs from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, which were then sold at the Brookline Farmers Market and in Chinatown. The council members designed portfolios, determined prices, and established how a profit could be generated. They prepared marketing materials and a marketing plan. Proceeds went to Barakat, a group that aims to advance literacy and improve access to secondary education for girls and women.

Through their initiative, students built a set of abilities, including social skills, as they learned to negotiate with strangers, strengths in communication and aptitudes for teamwork.

“Before, they didn’t know about these countries,” Xue said. “I asked them to learn about them; why we need to support their basic education. Now these students have more of a knowledge base of what’s going on. Community-wise, we’re letting people know that we’re doing things for a greater cause, and the kids develop empathy.”

The Youth Council plans to work on a similar project next summer. Council members are high school and college students from the greater Boston area.

“It’s never too late for youth to learn about what’s happening around the world,” Xue said, emphasizing the importance of women and children being equal to men. “What the youth have right now is a lot more compared to what other people have, and it’s important that they take nothing for granted.”

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