Camp Changemaker, a new initiative hosted by the NYU Changemaker Center, provides a designated space for undergraduate students interested in social change. During a four-day period over spring break, students gather to explore their strengths, pinpoint their passions, and identify change-making opportunities that align with their goals.
For Bernardo Adesoji (Soji) Britto, a Social Science major at the NYU School of Professional Studies, Camp Changemaker was an amazing experience. “I always knew I wanted to serve other people,” he says. “But I just wasn’t sure how.”
At Camp Changemaker Soji learned that he could effect change in many ways. In fact, anyone can. “There’s no right or wrong way to approach it,” he explains. “You don’t have to be a Public Policy major. Furthermore, you don’t have to come from a specific background. Everyone is passionate about something, and everyone has their own strengths. So anyone can make an impact.”
An Emphasis on Self-Reflection
Along with skill-building workshops, educational sessions, and community-building activities, Camp Changemaker includes periods of self-reflection. During these times, students define their skills and learn how to leverage their strengths for social change. Marie Tagbo found these moments of reflection deeply moving. She’s a Collaborative Arts major at the Tisch School of the Arts interested in reproductive justice.
“It’s very rare that you can be in a space to reflect on yourself,” Marie shares. “After taking Camp Changemaker’s StrengthsFinder assessment and discussing the results with my group, I realized I could combine my activism with my storytelling skills to spark change. Camp Changemaker focused on positive things, like what you’re good at, what you know, and what you’re passionate about. That made me feel really empowered. What’s more, it made me believe I already have the tools to create real change, right here and right now.”
Finding Inspiration Through Community
Camp Changemaker inspired Sofiia Krazhan, an Economics major at the College of Arts and Science, to find opportunities for social change at the intersection of her two biggest passions: film and public policy. As a result, she hopes to incorporate public policy into her filmmaking after she graduates in 2025. Then, she’ll produce stories that highlight topics like LGBTQ+ rights.
“Art is a powerful way to move people,” says Sofiia. “In the future, I hope to use the skills from Camp Changemaker, along with my skills as a national debate champion, to create heartwarming films and documentaries that send a message.” In addition to the program’s activities, Sofiia enjoyed forging connections with her fellow aspiring change-makers at NYU. The community itself, she says, is reason enough to apply for the program.
“Even if you’re not particularly interested in public policy or doing something political, you’re bound to gain something from the program,” Sofiia concludes. “For me, Camp Changemaker was a great place to meet other people with the same passions. Working with people who have the same outlook on the world was very rewarding and helped me find my community.”
So, Was It Worth It?
According to Marie, absolutely.
“Camp Changemaker gave me a stronger sense of self and a stronger sense of direction. That pushed me through the rest of the semester,” Marie says. “I went in thinking I was going to change the world. Then, I ended up changing myself. If you want to have your world opened up, this is the place for you.”