“Growing up in a completely different society is different. After joining Boys & Girls Club for just the summer, it was a turning point in my transition from Africa to the United States. On the other side of the Club doors is the “Wall of Negativity,” a place where my unhappy moments live. However, inside the Club gave me the motivation and assistance I needed to feel proud of being from somewhere different.”
These are heartfelt words from 16-year-old Ibrahima Gueye, Youth of the Year for Joseph B. Whitehead Boys & Girls Club. He’s now entering his fourth year at the Club, which he calls his second home.
“The Club has taken me places I could only dream of when I was in Africa.”
Ibrahima says the Keystone teen service and leadership program and College Bound, a program that prepares teens for college, have taught him life skills like money management, personal responsibility, and resourceful planning. Ibrahima says these lessons will take him a long way.
He credits Club staff members like Ms. Diane and Ms. Roberts for giving him the confidence to believe in himself.
“I was bullied in my elementary school because I wasn’t American enough according to the kids.”
Ibrahima said developing a support system at his second home and embracing the great person he is have helped him overcome the initial challenges of being in a new environment and he hopes his journey will inspire others to find their voice.
Ibrahima is expected to graduate high school in 2020. He hopes to become a nuclear engineer or soccer player one day.
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