July 27, 2011
>Whether in LA or New York, GLSEN Student Ambassador Bonds Always Flourish
This year GLSEN’s Ambassadors Summit was held in Los Angeles, CA. That’s a long way from New York City, where I come from, and where the Ambassador Summit was held in previous years. However, just because the summit was far away, doesn’t mean I didn’t feel right at home when I got there two weeks ago.
17 other wonderful students greeted me as we started the summit, eyes open and ready to learn. As we began to talk, I quickly felt as if I had known them for a lifetime. We all had experiences with the LGBT community, experiences about bullying, and reasons why we were there. Those things connected us for the rest of the summit and allowed us to become the inseparable friends that we were by the end.
As tired as we were when we got there on Thursday, we powered through it to learn about GLSEN, LGBT 101, tips for interviewing and participating in a photo shoot with the NOH8 campaign. As a returning Ambassador, it was very interesting to revisit the lessons that I had learned the year before and see how they had evolved and changed over the course of the year. The best part of that night for me was having the honor to lead a workshop with my fellow returning Ambassadors about what we had done in our media work for the past year.
The next morning we awoke bright and early to head down to the local ABC 7 station in LA to begin a day of learning how the news media really works. We had many speakers including Edd Adamko, one of the executive producers of the station, and Julia Seifer, another producer. They taught us about what they do, what it’s like to interview people, and many other topics. Julia even did mock interviews with us to give us some experience talking with the media. We also enjoyed a tour of the station, including time with the green screen and some of the anchors. It was amazing to see all of the hard work and effort that goes into making a newscast happen. It really opened my eyes and got me interested in media work. It might be something I pursue in the future.
After a few more workshops and some dinner, we headed out to Outfest where we saw a documentary profiling out country singer Chely Wright entitled “Wish Me Away.” The entire documentary was so touching and heartbreaking that I’m sure each and every one of us cried multiple times. To see someone struggle like that is so infuriating. However, when you see her now you would never know how much she struggled. It was an amazing experience, and I will definitely remember it for years to come.
We headed back to our hotel for some good night’s rest and then woke up to travel to Disney/ABC for a jam-packed day. While there we had the opportunity to meet such amazing people as Amy Astley (a publicist for ABC), Jonathan Del Arco (an actor and GLSEN consultant), Perez Hilton, Chely Wright and Janet Mock (a transgender People.com editor). Every single one of them had something amazing to say about their experiences that taught me so much. I feel honored to have shared conversation with every single one of these people.
Our day concluded with posing for photos and a trip to see Harry Potter. The next day when it was time to say goodbye, we just couldn’t leave each other. In the four days we were together we grew so close and learned so much that we formed an inseparable bond that cannot be taken away from us. I know that we are all so proud to work for such a wonderful organization as GLSEN and want to extend a special thank you to everyone that made this life changing trip possible.
Here are just some of our photos from the 2011 GLSEN Ambassadors Summit. Be sure to check back in later for more pictures, videos and words from this year’s Student Ambassadors!