Kisha Joseph is youth coordinator at St Georges, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.
MD: Kisha, Tell us a bit about yourself?
KJ: I’m 28 years old. I was born and raised in Montreal. I have both a technical diploma in community recreation leadership training and a degree in human relations.
MD: How long have you been involved in working with young people and what made you get involved?
KJ: I started working with children and youth when I myself was a youth. When I was about to turn 16, I worked at a summer camp in Côte-des-Neiges. Since then I have worked with all ages from 3 months to 21 years old in various capacities but my favorite age group has always been high school students. I unfortunately don’t remember why I got involved. As far as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher until Grade 9 when I found out that a youth worker is a lot cooler.
MD: It can sometimes be thankless job being a youth leader; what keeps you going?
KJ: My motivation is always the youth that I work with. It brings me so much joy to be able to hang out with youth; to encourage and support them. And to be a part of their growth as they discover who they are and what they want. It inspires me on a daily basis.
MD: As a diocese (and across the Church of Canada) we are seeing a concerted effort at prioritizing youth ministry. What advice do you have for the decision makers in our Churches?
KJ: Everyone knows that children and youth are our future. It’s not a surprise that in 5-10 years they are going to be the leaders and decisionmakers. We all need youth. If we don’t make them the priority then everything else is in vain. But be encouraged, they are longing to be heard!
MD: What “wow” moments have you had in your work.
KJ: Every day is probably a “wow” moment. If I had to choose one, though, it would be while on the trip out west this summer with the Youth Ambassadors. I had the opportunity to challenge these seven youth members for 10 days. And as the days went on, I noticed so many positive changes in their behavior. They learned what it was to be servants and to put others first. And it caused them to stick out from the rest of youth, as they were selfless. It is always an encouragement when youth stop accepting the excuses and rise to the challenge.
MD: On a lighter note, have you had any really embarrassing moments in your work?
KJ: I think my whole career is an embarrassing moment. I thrive on being myself, no matter how weird and random that girl is. And every single youth I have ever worked with says the same thing, “When we met you, we thought you were so weird! But we wanted to know you anyway.”
MD: Last Question; What advice do you have for the synod office in our mission to serve young people and their families?
KJ: I am continually frustrated by how people lower their standards because of the new obstacles this generation has to face. Yes, we live in a society of instant gratification, obsession with a collection of stuff; even face-to-face contact is nearly non-existent. However, that doesn’t mean that we need to copy our culture. God calls us to be different and to live differently than the world. As you serve young people, don’t try to mimic what society is telling you that they need. Rather, be what Jesus is telling you they need; build safe communities that challenge them to be humble servants and contributing citizens who strive for excellence.