The Character Movement

Ubuntu: “I am because we are.”

Youth Frontiers will work with more than 120,000 students this year. Yes, each student is an individual with a unique story and background. Yet, as I stand in front of 200 students day after day, my observation is that most kids are struggling with the same universal issues: feeling a sense of belonging and respect.

Respect Retreat
Students on a Youth Frontiers® Respect Retreat®
We, as humans, have more that brings us together than separates us. Our retreats have an amazing ability to get kids to see the importance of their commonality. When they care about their fellow students’ experiences – and understand that they play a critical role in shaping these experiences – the school becomes a community where learning can flourish.

The African saying ‘Ubuntu’ translates, “I am because we are.” Perhaps incorporating this wisdom into our schools would help get our kids to stand up for respect rather than stand by among the crowd. On our retreats, do just that by telling students that they matter. But our message doesn’t stop there. You matter. Others matter. What you do matters.

Our goal is to impress upon students that how they treat their peers and teachers is critically important. It isn’t just about you. It’s about the community around you. A positive school community happens when students and teachers look out for one another, stand up for one another and support one another.

The need to develop character and build community challenges all of us, whether we are parents or leaders or kids on a playground. One way to bring us closer to this goal is to see how we are connected to one another. If I am because we are, then you are because I am – and that which I do matters to you, and that which you do matters to me. We are all accountable for each other.

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