"I wanted to somehow make the place where I live, a safer, more loving place."
Dezaráy Lowery, of San Francisco, CA, noticed violence and people in her community becoming incarcerated. She wanted to see if there was some way for her to spread love and a peaceful attitude throughout her community. During her six weeks in Chile during her semester at the Alzar School, she became enamored with warmness of the Chilean people, and was amazed at how even strangers seemed to interact positively. In her Culminating Leadership Project, she planned to visit different elementary schools and introduce them to the Chilean style of greeting, with a cheek-to-cheek kiss. She then planned to host a barbeque at a community center near her house and to survey students at her school who learned about the “Chilean Cheek Kiss” to see if they would be interested in utilizing the greeting in their everyday life.
Implementation of Project
Dezaráy started her project in the summer after her semester at the Alzar School. She went to three elementary schools and talked to young students for about 10 to 15 minutes about the Chilean Cheek Kiss. She introduced them to a new way of greeting other people and showed them that they could be more open and warm to people around them. Dezaráy also wanted to expose them to the idea that this could become a cultural norm in their society.
Throughout the school year, Dezaráy’s plan to host a barbeque changed. Instead, she decided to conduct a survey of the students she presented to, as a chance to collect some data about the results of her efforts.
“When I went to the schools I was nervous about talking to a bunch of little kids and getting them to be excited about something… I put on a smile and I tried to speak so that they could understand me, not as an adult, but as another kid. After the first presentation I felt more comfortable with talking and I wasn’t as nervous.”
Results of Project
Dezaráy found her Culminating Leadership Project to be a challenge from start to finish. She noted that working on it opened her eyes to the complexity of leading a movement.
“The survey was a great idea. It was a simple way for me to see, as high schoolers, would anyone agree with my cause and be willing to implement a new way of greeting into their everyday life. Talking with the little kids I already knew that they were excited and could take the cheek kiss home and do it. However, with the short survey that I did as school, I learned that the majority of the older kids, wouldn’t start this or bring it home.”
In the future, Dezaráy plans to live up to her sending school’s motto of “Step Up, Do Right, and Dream Big.” She aspires to be a great leader someday, and knows that implementing and learning from her Culminating Leadership Project was just the first step. She intends to refine her leadership skills by continuing to be involved in projects in San Francisco, and is looking forward to the college experience as well.
“Being a leader takes a lot of time, planning, other people, and experience. Leadership takes practice. I need to work hard, do my best, show my continual learning and improvement, and keep working to be a leader.”