Azim N. Khamisa from the Tariq Khamisa Foundation speaks about the “Principles of Nonviolence.” Photo credit: Torrey Spoerer
Azim N. Khamisa from the Tariq Khamisa Foundation speaks about the “Principles of Nonviolence.” Photo credit: Torrey Spoerer

Giving youth a Passport to Life

Hundreds of San Diego youths and county experts gathered on City College’s campus for the sixth annual Passport to Life Career and Education Expo on Aug. 11.

The expo targets youths ages 14 to 24 currently on probation in San Diego County, with the goal of providing them with ideas, tools, motivation, encouragement and hope for their futures. The goal is based on the premise that all youth hold the ability to succeed when given proper training, support and opportunities.

“Earlier today, (San Diego County Chief Probation Officer) Mac Jenkins said, ‘This program is not actually about scaring the kids straight. It’s all about showing them that we care for them and their future’,” said Dr. Marilyn Harvey, City College’s director of Student Transition Services.

Unlike other probation programs, the annual event — hosted by City six years in a row thus far — seeks to offer user-friendly resources and opportunities for assisting youths’ transition from their current juvenile probation to a life of successful adulthood responsibilities and productivity.

In a televised interview with San Diego CW Channel 6 News, San Diego Superior Court Judge Carolyn M. Caietti shared her story on starting the expo.

“I started my job as a superior court judge seven years ago,”Caietti explains to the CW 6 News anchors. “Six years ago, I was driving to work one morning and thought, ‘We need to show opportunities to our youth that they may not be receiving in their homes or schools, and give them an one-stop shop to receive the resources they need for success.'”

After the morning welcome speeches were given to the youth by staff and select motivational speakers, a full-packed Gorton Quad gave kids and young adults a large variety of various interactive vendors and information booths to choose from, offering advice and openings for careers, education and financial aid from dozens of diverse organizations.

In both the school cafeteria and the B building, numerous workshops provided attendees with speeches and resources on countless topics including principles of nonviolence, digital reputation, personal transformation through art, and so on.

“It gets better every single year,” Harvey said. “We’ve had a constantly growing number of participants, volunteers and vendors every year coming out in stronger force. Everyone seems to get on board very easily.”

Growing numbers, however, is not exactly what Passport to Life’s core focus is all about.

“For the past six years,” Harvey explained, “we’ve seen kids previously attending the Passport to Life expo graduate high school and sign up for City’s First Year Experience program, and eventually even move on up to university-level education.”

“This year,” Harvey continued, “some of those new FYE students met with (City College President) Anthony Beebe and shook hands with him. The president actually said that he was really impressed by their handshakes and asked them where they learned them from, and the students responded ‘Oh, we learned that at Passport to Life.'”

“That is what we truly mean when we say ‘It gets better every year,'” Harvey concluded.

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Giving youth a Passport to Life