What service learning meant to me: Shaurya Prakash ’18 on community partnerships, youngPOWER and taking action

Service learning continues to be an integral part of an ASL education. In 2015, ASL students collaborated with peers from Quintin Kynaston (QK) and Westminster Academy to develop the youngPOWER Diversity and Social Justice Conference. Now in its fifth year, youngPOWER brings together 140 students from six local secondary schools to discuss social justice issues in an effort to break down stereotypes and identify paths for taking action in our communities. The conference is one of several leadership opportunities available to ASL high schoolers and was a beneficiary of the proceeds raised from the 2019 PCA Live Well ASL Auction. ASL graduate and University of Cambridge student Shaurya Prakash ’18 shares how his involvement with community action and youngPOWER informed his experience at and beyond One Waverley Place.

The youngPOWER conference in 2018
"Like most students at ASL entering high school, my involvement in community partnerships started somewhat superficially. Little did I know that volunteering to tutor kids in the Rugby Portobello Trust Homework Club would become a pillar of my life at ASL, giving me patience, empathy and communication skills that would make me a better version of myself and a better member of the ASL community. The world outside One Waverley Place and St. John’s Wood includes people of all ages and backgrounds, from whom so much is to be learned. Talking to primary school students in Notting Hill informed me of how difficult doing school work in English can be for non-native speakers. These are conversations worth having, and worth giving up a couple of hours on a school night. In my four years at ASL, little has been as rewarding as attending and organizing the youngPOWER Conference, now a staple in the school calendar. The conference is not only a hallmark of ASL’s increasing engagement with British communities, but also evidence of the large amount of work that is required to bridge the gap with local schools across London. Students attending the conference are often remarkably similar: we all share a desire to use our knowledge and our experiences as catalysts of local and global change, to improve our lives and the lives of others through activism. The youngPOWER Conference offered me and many others hope in the face of a seemingly polarized world, underscoring the power of human connectedness over political division. In listening to truly diverse perspectives and sharing my own story, I finally knew who I was. ASL students are armed with innumerable opportunities, and they have the power to use some of these opportunities to create opportunities for others, in a manner that epitomizes our school’s core values and best prepares them for life after ASL."--Shaurya Prakash '18

Was service learning a meaningful part of your ASL story? We’d love to hear it! Contact the alumni office and let us know.