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  • Writer's pictureNidhi Charagundla

Leadership: A Key Club Experience

Written By: Aaron So, LTG of Division of 12

Leadership, character building, caring, and inclusiveness. The core values of Key Club form the backbone of each Key Clubber, Key Club service project, and Key Club itself. The arguably most important of which is leadership. Joining Key Club in my freshman year, I thought I already had character, I thought I already cared, and I thought I was already inclusive. The value that I left out is leadership. It's the one I felt that I lacked the most. Why? Well, I admit that I'm a bit of an introvert myself. I'm more of a wallflower type person, you know, the type to not want to be the center of attention. And yeah, I know, there are plenty of leaders who are introverts. Just not me. Or so I thought.

When I joined Lambert High School's Key Club in my freshman year, I was eager to sign up for any volunteering opportunity that my school's Key Club provided. In August, I practically signed up for all the events on the weekends while still trying to figure out my 'place' in high school as a freshman, and September was no exception. In our Key Club's GroupMe, I saw an available volunteering opportunity in Stone Mountain, GA, called the AKF Walk. For those of you who don't know, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is an organization that aims to improve the lives of people in some of the poorest regions in Africa and Asia. As a freshman, I was unaware of this (I had only done a surface-level Google search on them, to begin with), but regardless I signed up for the event. On the day of the event, I woke up early, got ready, and my Dad drove me to Stone Mountain. I hadn't been in Stone Mountain in a while, so it was a nice change of pace.

When I arrived at the AKF Walk, the volunteers assigned me to the Village in Action station. It was an educational station where young students could learn the importance of hydroelectric power and sustainable energy. The project leader, who was in charge of all the science stations, trained everyone in charge of a science station. He told us what we could explain, how to demonstrate the science experiment, and how to make the station interactive for the children. I listened carefully, as did others, so that we wouldn't miss any important information. He also mentioned that other (high school) volunteers would be arriving and that we should expect to demonstrate how the science stations work once they arrive. This little snippet of information didn't catch my attention, but it would become important later. After the little training session, everyone went back to their stations to wait for the AKF Walk to open to the general public. As the AKF Walk opened to the general public, the children flocked to the science stations, mine included. It was an experience unlike any other. I LOVED teaching the kids about hydroelectricity and sustainability. As each kid came and went, I happily explained hydroelectricity, and I let them try out the experiment set up at the station. The kids were pretty excited, so I matched their excitement (and their parents' excitement too). With that excitement came confidence. I was confident I could teach these kids about electricity while having a little fun too. And I was right. I did become confident. That confidence eventually translated into leadership. Earlier I mentioned that the project leader told us to train the new volunteers that would arrive. I forgot about that bit since I was too focused on teaching the kids, but help did eventually arrive, specifically FBLA volunteers from a high school in Lilburn, GA. Two of the volunteers were assigned to my hydroelectricity station, so I had to train them before I had to leave in the afternoon. I may have been too overly enthusiastic when I showed them how the experiment worked, and I think it stemmed from the confidence earlier that I gained earlier. As I showed the volunteers how the station worked, I was thinking about how it felt 'natural.' I was naturally able to 'lead' these volunteers at my station. If they had a question, I was able to answer it. And it didn't stop there. There were people at the AKF Walk who were asking for directions like where the refreshments are located and the like, and I was able to show them the way. Unfortunately, I had to leave the AKF Walk early, but this experience stuck with me. Looking back, I didn't realize I exhibited leadership skills. Introverted freshman me (still me except now I'm a sophomore) wouldn't be able to fathom teaching kids and training fellow volunteers at a volunteering event. The experience at the AKF Walk stuck with me throughout my entire freshman Key Club year. It made me confident to the point where I would take Key Club a step further and apply for an officer position at my club. And I did. And I took it a step further and eventually applied for the District Board. It might be cliche to say that Key Club is the reason why I'm where I am today, but I would be lying to you if I said otherwise.

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