By Youth Ambassadors from Tierra Encantada Charter School, 2016
“We are a group of up-and-coming Youth Ambassadors from Santa Fe, New Mexico. After an interesting couple of weeks exploring our community and finding locations that we enjoyed, we are inspired to teach the world how to love where they live. We never knew about all the great places our city has to offer. Now we know that even small cities have great hidden treasures. We take our communities for granted. It’s time to admire the world we live in.” – Caitlin Scott
During the spring intensive at Tierra Encantada Charter School, we spent every day learning about where we live by going places, meeting people and doing things as part of the Community Learning Network’s “Love Where We Live” Youth Ambassadors training program.
What makes a good ambassador? We brainstormed and developed our own Top 10 Rules for Ambassador Etiquette. We used photo editing and cartoon apps to create a slideshow to teach the next class of Youth Ambassadors. The slideshow is on our website: www.lovewherewelive.info
We learned about Netiquette. According to Virginia Shea, author of the book Netiquette, “It’s network etiquette—the etiquette of cyberspace.” We studied digital citizenship and digital literacy and discussed Internet safety and privacy. We also learned about Twitter Rules of Engagement and blogging; we created avatars and emails; plus, we experimented with file sharing and digital collaboration through Google Classroom.
After a brief introduction to Street Etiquette, we studied photojournalism and learned about the 10 elements of photography, including the “Rule of Thirds, Balancing Elements, Leading Lines, Viewpoint, Symmetry, Patterns, Depth, Framing, Cropping and Experimentation.” Then, we took to the streets with a new lens, a camera lens, and began documenting the hidden beauty and unique personality of where we live. It was fun, and thanks to a visit from social media professionals in the community, we posted some of our best images to the popular social-media site, Simply Santa Fe, as well as to Instagram.
We also developed media teams with specific roles and responsibilities such as location manager, producer, editor, cameraperson and interviewer. We learned some of the basics of video filming and editing. We even studied iMovie tutorials on YouTube. We did research, learned how to introduce ourselves and wrote interview questions. We learned about consent forms and media release forms. Then, we explored our neighborhood and interviewed people using smart phones and tablets. We gathered stories, information and photos. We created videos and slideshows to share what we learned and show what there is to love about where we live.
We walked around our neighborhood. We explored the Railyard and interviewed local farmers and vendors at the farmers’ market. We learned about our local economy and good food. We interviewed the manager at the popular restaurant, Tomasita’s. We also interviewed the general manager of the Jean Cocteau Theater. We explored REI’s adventure gear, and, at the Violet Crown Cinema, we peeked into the projection rooms. We also met Mona at the visitor’s center and discovered you can actually rent bikes next door at Eco-Motive. We talked to some police officers on bikes, too. We learned you can pay parking tickets at the Market Station City Offices and were invited upstairs to the Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning office for a focus group on youth mobility with transportation planners and consultants.
We studied local transportation and used maps, tablets and smart phones to chart our route and schedule for taking the public bus. Thankfully, we arrived right on time to volunteer at the Food Depot on Siler Road and had a great time volunteering and helping out. We learned there are many people who do not have enough to eat in New Mexico.
We visited the Capitol building and toured the Capitol Foundation Art Collection, which some people say is one of the best-kept secrets in Santa Fe. We met the mayor, too—and took a selfie with him! We toured City Hall to learn about our community government. A few of us even got to sit in the city councilors’ chairs. We visited the New Mexico History Museum and the Palace of the Governors and, of course, explored the historic Plaza.
We kept personal journals and field notes and made thank-you cards and letters. We spent one afternoon hiking in Hyde Park with our guide, Joshua Sage, and realized there are lots of trails and places to hike or just be in nature all around Santa Fe! We learned that you don’t need technology all the time, and you can have fun outside in nature. It is peaceful and beautiful there and very relaxing.
One of the highlights of our project was the Santa Fe Humane Society and Animal Shelter They provide a great community service by helping people take care of their pets and finding homes for animals in need. We particularly loved volunteering to hold the new puppies!
We completed our program with a “Celebration of Learning” and Youth Ambassador certificates, signed by the mayor. And we got business cards! We also ate lunch at the new, locally owned, BadAss Sandwich Company downtown. We are grateful to the owner for letting us create our own specialty hotdog, permanently named after Tierra Encantada and our mascot, the alacrán, or scorpion.
We learned so much about where we live; Santa Fe is an amazing place! Just saying hello and talking with people we did not know in our own community gave us a lot more confidence.
We made a website to share what we learned and hope you will take a look. We will also be available to participate in community events, activities, projects and outreach, so if you need a guest speaker or student representative, please contact us at email@example.com
The “Love Where We Live” Youth Ambassador’s project was a great experience. Our success was especially driven by our teachers at Tierra Encantada, Alicia Benavídez and Alle Kirkland. They trusted us and gave us the support and encouragement we needed to grow, learn, share, explore—and express ourselves. Tierra Encantada Charter School in Santa Fe is designed to empower students as citizen scholars. The school offers a dual-language environment and rigorous learning curriculum to prepare students for postsecondary success.
To support the Youth Ambassadors project or learn more about “Love Where We Live,” visit or contact director Jennifer Nevárez at 505.699.1503 or firstname.lastname@example.org