Calafia is yli’s statewide youth policy journal that amplifies the narratives of young people on topics and issue areas important to them and their communities. Each year, Calafia Fellows are selected from across yli’s offices to develop and produce a youth-led policy ‘zine. Along the way, they are mentored by experienced reporters and learn the steps to producing a variety of different kinds of content. Check work from previous years here.
This year’s Calafia Fellows are an exceptional bunch. Here are their stories.
Adamari is from Coachella Valley. She is currently a freshman in college. In high school, she was in a small program where she learned about many forms of expressions through art and writing. It’s important to share about her community because it’s mostly known by the Coachella festival. The Coachella festival isn’t what she wants her community to be defined by. People should know that Coachella Valley is known for its agriculture. How there are lots of immigrants and many places to work. That there are lots of resources that help others and community involvement in many ways. Coachella Valley is a place of hardworking people and Adamari joined Calafia to be a voice for her community.
Jocelyn is an international student from China studying abroad in the U.S. Through staying with numerous families on her trip, Jocelyn has learned a lot about different cultures and perspectives. Jocelyn leads the Universal Peace Club at her high school in which she holds virtual workshops about important social issues. In her free time, Jocelyn stays busy reading and honing her writing skills.
Jovani was born in California and grew up in Redwood City. Currently, he is a rising high school senior. Jovani is passionate about journalism, photography, and filmmaking. At school, he initiates podcasts to advocate for social justice. Furthermore, Jovani likes watching movies and playing basketball. By participating in the Calafia program, Jovani said he has an opportunity to meet cool people and make new friends.
Kayla loves art. She is passionate about learning more about it every day. She first started to fall in love with art after seeing an animation on TV that inspired her. From there, she only became more and more enthralled with the beautiful act of creating meaningful art. Although she loved art, she didn’t feel very confident in her drawings. It wasn’t until her friend showed her how to draw a human face (hint, draw an upside-down A) that she began to learn interesting tips about drawing. Her skills only accumulated over time, and she now draws confidently and proudly.
Clarissa is currently a rising senior attending Notre Dame High School. Born in San Bruno, California where she’s lived her whole life, Clarissa has developed into a passionate and driven individual. Identifying as half Mexican, a quarter White, and a quarter Chinese, her backgrounds have been transformative to who she is today. Growing up, she and her sister both felt like outsiders as they didn’t feel as if they could connect to the family on either side of their parents fully. But Clarissa eventually came to a place of realization, determining that she could embrace both cultures and connect with others that were multiracial and had undergone the same experiences. Now, she loves being able to carry her grandparents and ancestors stories from both cultures.
Rami struggled with ADHD and, over time, they eventually healed from it while learning life lessons from the healing exercises they went through along the way. This led to growing more mature and exploring things that they haven’t done before.
We are especially thrilled to introduce our Senior Fellows, Nancy Aguilar-Aquino and Katelyn Chang. Participants in last year’s program, Nancy and Katelyn were invited to come back as youth mentors and co-facilitators. Their responsibilities range from reviewing applications and selecting this year’s cohort, co-creating and co-facilitating all of our presentations, sharing their personal experiences and strategies for completing each project, 1-on-1 mentoring with the youth, and peer reviewing drafts.
Nancy’s pronouns are she/her, she’s 19 years old, and she has already graduated high school. She has been involved in many youth advocacy efforts, one of them being a leadership program. Something exciting that she got to experience and share with others is that, one second she was joining these programs now she’s leading them! This is a big step for her as she was once a shy person and sometimes it was hard to communicate, but she has grown out of her shell little by little, and she’s not shy any more. Her involvement helped her in many ways, such as gaining more confidence and being even more of a creative person. She loves crafting, painting, and storytelling.
Katelyn, a former 2021-2022 Calafia fellow, is excited to take on the position as a senior fellow to continue her passion for journalism and activism in her community. Growing up in San Francisco, she recognized the diversity and liveliness that the city has to offer. Now a rising senior at Mills High School, she applies her background and personal stories through journalism to empower and connect with others. As the youngest sibling, Katelyn’s role model has always been her older sister. Her sister consistently leads by example, has made a powerful impact in her life, and is Katelyn’s grounding compass.