PYO Students And The Political Process

Two PYO students share how their experience changed their view on the political process

This story was originally written on Democracy Summer

This week we wanted to get a sense of how younger voters envision their future role in the political process. We spoke with two of our high school volunteers, Antonio Cervantes-Herrera and Josh Thompson, to gather their thoughts on voting. Both students arrived at Democracy NC through a program called Partner for Youth Opportunity (PYO).

Josh, a senior at Jordan High School, had never previously considered engaging with politics. Now, as he’s tasked to phone-bank, he’s becoming more interested in what is happening around the state. He plans on voting this November and speaking more openly about voting to his friends. Over the course of his time volunteering, he believes he’s gained essential communication skills and has learned to translate wordy scripts into relatable language that will reach a broader audience.

Volunteers at Democracy Summer

Antonio learned about PYO through his sister, a graduate of the program, and was motivated by his mom to get involved. Though Antonio is seventeen and not eligible to vote this election, he has sparked conversations about the new voting laws amongst friends and family. He is also learning what it means to take action against the disenfranchisement he recognizes is occurring throughout the state.

Before volunteering with Democracy NC, Antonio had not had much experience blank-calling people to advocate for a certain issue. Now through regularly phone banking as a volunteer, he has worked up the courage to actively engage people over the phone. Come fall, Antonio believes he will be more motivated to keep up with the state of politics in NC after working with Democracy NC.

Though both volunteers come from different backgrounds, they are equally invested in the future of state politics. We of the Durham team frequently find this is the case with the young people we interact with at events and meetings. So whenever people say young people aren’t engaged, maybe that’s when we have to ask ourselves when was the last time we reached out to them for their skills and effort? We’re finding here at Democracy NC that both groups have a lot to learn from each other.