Jordan Conde, West Texas A&M University
Planting Your Seeds in Barren Soil
There are many ways to describe the National Millennial and Gen Z Community. From the organization's mission statement to the diverse, multicultural community, the members have created and continue to develop.
I want to provide my take on what NMGZ is and how it has enlightened my thoughts on multiple industries, social issues, demographics and cultural makeup, and my individuality and potential.
NMGZ is overflowing with potential from a wide range of skills, perspectives in thinking, and diversity. Everyone involved naturally shows that they are leaders within their community, but most share a common sentiment: they hold themselves back.
Throughout the trip, the theme of "not being good enough" or "I don't know if I belong" arose through many group members' heads, myself included.
Some members feel that they do not have worth in their local communities. When discussing these emotions, the insecurities of race, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, and geography powerfully shape these perceptions.
With this in mind, no one was having these thoughts by the end of the trip. Instead, it replaced insecurities with confidence, motivation, and creativity. From a stagnant outlook grew a feeling of needing change and the drive to do more.
In Los Angeles, our activities from the very first day emphasized this point. Our first activity was with GROW, a DEI consultancy. We presented our perspectives regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, extending the idiosyncrasies of everyone involved. When sharing what their creations meant, many members revealed that despite believing in striving for an inclusive world, they weren't living it. Their perception was that they were not worthy of being part of what they envisioned.
Even hundreds of miles apart, strangers meeting for the first time realized they had similar upbringings, connections, and hobbies. Strangers turned best friends in seconds. On our way to meetings, you could hear members bonding on the charter bus. Members sang their hearts out to every song genre while others taught foreign languages and phrases. Or even the differences in regional-specific fast food chains and how "you HAVE to try In-N-Out" as if this was the gospel from the west coast.
Members of the community developed stronger bonds as they faced more team-building challenges. When push came to shove, individuals would overcome any obstacle ahead of them, even when it became uncomfortable. Most notable was our dance-off challenge when visiting IW Group Inc., a multicultural marketing agency. Three teams had to work together and create a routine to present to the other teams and guest judges.
After experiencing the dance challenge, many members finally found a place where they belonged. Positive reinforcement provided the fundamental framework to press on. Most members were terrified of standing in front of an audience, getting their groove on, and dancing. Yet, because they no longer were treated with the negativity and adversity they received throughout their life and instead were met with cheers and applause, they not only accomplished but overcame their fears.
We felt that we were striving to grow an elusive rarity in a land that was dead. NMGZ gave us the resources to bring fertility into the ground; Encouragement to provide the necessary nutrients; Opportunities to help members grow; Education to ensure everyone has the proper hands-on knowledge to pursue their individuality.
NMGZ doesn't do the impossible; it just proves that impossibility doesn't exist.