“I came back from HOBY determined to share what I had learned. I realized my purpose in my district, and my purpose in life.”
After immigrating to the United States without his parents, Neemekh Mudvari became a student at Westfield High School in Spring, Texas. Neemekh is of Mexican and Indian descent. Moving to the United States was a difficult transition to a new culture and way of life without much support, as his parents stayed in Mexico to work to pay for his accommodations in the U.S. With the help of his choir teacher, Neemekh learned to speak English within just a couple of years.
As a sophomore, he was nominated to attend the HOBY Gulf Coast Seminar in 2017. At HOBY, Neemekh describes, ” the explosion of energy, enthusiasm and laughter that vibrated across the whole campus. At HOBY I met many incredible and supportive people who were also interested in service.” He was also given the opportunity to attend the World Leadership Congress where he met students all across the country and from around the world, each with their own unique life experiences and desire to make a positive change in their community. He describes one activity from his HOBY Leadership Seminar that had an impact on him:
“The staff divided us into groups. We were told to form a school and were given materials. But they didn’t tell us that each group had different instructions and different resources. The group furthest to the right had a table, chairs, space, and the absolute attention of the staff whenever they needed help. The furthest to the left had to sit on the floor with 20 people in a small little box with little to no assistance from the staff. Eventually, the people furthest to the left started a “revolution” complaining about the system and they were all sent to “jail”. Despite being in one of the groups furthest to the left, we managed to finish most of the project, which earned us some praise. That was the moment I realized, life has been hard for as long as I can remember, but somehow I looked at my parents, my teachers, and my mentor Mr. Mateo Magdaleno and I understood that I will always Persevere, even in the hardest of moments because that is what true leadership is.”
Upon returning home, Neemekh began to notice a disconnect between other non-english speaking students and school administrators and teachers. In his words, “I noticed how the non-English Speaking community is often ignored and looked down upon. Because of the language impediment, we get moved down in grade levels, we get judged, and we get fewer opportunities at a secondary education since most of the information available is not translated to us or our families. I realized I was once in that position, a young man begging for help, but because of HOBY decided to do something about it.” Neemekh helped to start the Spring IDQ 7, a group of adults and students from the Spring School district that works together to assist English as a Second Language learners and decrease the drop-out rate among that population. Spring IDQ 7 developed Spanish and Vietnamese classes taught by students to teachers and staff to develop the skills needed to make their students feel more welcome and to give teachers an opportunity to learn more about the cultures of their students. They’re also started an ESL Club in which students learn English while also learning about their peer’s cultures and sharing about their own. To address the drop-out rate, Spring IDQ 7 assists ESL students with applications to FAFSA, TASFA, and college applications.
Neemekh Mudvari was recognized on November 1st, 2018 with HOBY’s Outstanding Young Alumni award at the Dallas Leadership Awards Dinner. The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is given to HOBY alumni under the age of 25 for their outstanding accomplishments and service. Recipients of this award have distinguished themselves as impactful leaders, having served in their schools, neighborhoods, and communities, started their own non-profits, and made a significant difference in the lives of others because of their HOBY experience. In a surprise presentation, Neemekh has also gifted a brand new laptop by Mateo Magdelena and other administrators in the Spring IDQ 7 group, and accepted into the University of Texas Arlington with a full scholarship for the first year.
Neemekh believes youth leadership is important, “because young people right now are the future. There’s a quote that I like by, Frederick Douglass, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” And that’s true, today’s youth are the future. If we don’t take care of them, we don’t have a future.” HOBY is incredibly proud of the positive change and influence that Neemekh has had in his community and can’t wait to see what he does next!