PHS News

Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

+nonprofit+Community+Tampa+Bay%2C+senior+Lena+Diasti+is+an+advocate+for+%E2%80%9CEquity.%E2%80%9D+Diasti+has+been+volunteering+with+them+since+her+freshman+year+and+became+an+intern+in+August+2018.++
Back to Article
Back to Article

Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

 nonprofit Community Tampa Bay, senior Lena Diasti is an advocate for “Equity.” Diasti has been volunteering with them since her freshman year and became an intern in August 2018.

nonprofit Community Tampa Bay, senior Lena Diasti is an advocate for “Equity.” Diasti has been volunteering with them since her freshman year and became an intern in August 2018.

Paola Laborda

nonprofit Community Tampa Bay, senior Lena Diasti is an advocate for “Equity.” Diasti has been volunteering with them since her freshman year and became an intern in August 2018.

Paola Laborda

Paola Laborda

nonprofit Community Tampa Bay, senior Lena Diasti is an advocate for “Equity.” Diasti has been volunteering with them since her freshman year and became an intern in August 2018.

Maizie Tremblay, Photographer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Q: Can you tell me about your nonprofit? 

A: The nonprofit I work for is called Community Tampa Bay. The nonprofit’s mission is to end all forms of discrimination, so with that we do development for both professional and youth. I am an intern now currently with them since August, but I have been working in the organization since my freshman year of high school. I attended their program Any Town, a residential program where we learn about youth development and social issues. That’s where my passion ignited and from there I have been volunteering with them and staffing their programs.   

Q: How did you decide to go into that kind of work? 

A: When I went to the program going into my freshman year of high school, I was passionate about advocating and being really involved in the community. Participating in that program showed me exactly where I wanted to advocate for, which was social justice and human rights. Both those things have been a passion for me since that point. I am also very aware of my identity of being an Egyptian person, so that combined with the work I do with Community Tampa Bay makes me passionate to do that work all the time because I know that I have the capacity to do it, so I do it.  

Q: What type of work does your organization do? 

A: We do a lot of youth development, so youth development is where we have programing and we come to schools and we facilitate events and do year-round programming as well. We have one program in the summer called Any Town – it’s a five-day, four-night program. It’s at Eckerd College. It is 100 percent free for every student who wants to attend. Any high school student can go.    

Q: What changes do you wish to evoke on your community? 

A: Starting with the Plant community, I feel that there are so many amazing humans that attend this school and so many people who are passionate and have that drive and sometimes, what’s not matched, is empathy. Empathy is something that’s kind of lost. We all know how to have it, and yet we don’t do it. I think for me, not only seeing that in the community at Plant, but in South Tampa and in the world, that’s such a problem because we have the capacity to do so, yet we don’t practice it, and once we practice it, we will make other humans want to practice empathy and practice this radical way of living for yourself but making sure others are doing the same.   

Q: Do you want to pursue this type of work as a career?  

A: I’m really interested in social justice, human rights and advocacy, so I really want to study international relations. The reason is because I find that being Egyptian and knowing my identity and being very globally aware has caused me to want to go into this field. So, whatever I do – definitely internationally based – but I think I want to go into human rights or global development, something in that sense. I think that people put their passions on the back burner and think that it can’t be a career when in reality it can be, especially in today’s world when so many human rights are being violated. And it’s happening in so many places and we aren’t talking about it, whether it be young children at the border, women in African countries being forced into prostitution or child labor laws that aren’t being listened to, whether it be coming from higher power or power that we have in our community, all of those things are really being tested today and I think this is why I’m so passionate about it because you need to be.    

Q: What has been your biggest challenge regarding your nonprofit work? 

A: I think a big challenge for me, and I feel like this is something a lot of youth can relate with-is making sure that you know that their age does not define their depth and capacity to do things. I think that that’s always something hard to understand because people, especially adults, push down this rhetoric of you can’t to do it because you’re young, you don’t have the capacity yet or you don’t have the experience yet, and adults just don’t believe that you have the gumption to do it when in reality you can and you do. So, I feel like for me its balancing that I understand that someone may not believe me, that I can do this, and yet I surpass their standard that they’ve set for me. So, I feel like that has been a power dynamic, a power struggle. I also must make sure I am practicing what I am preaching, that is a huge thing for me. I think so often we have advocates that say, oh we need to make sure that these rights are being met, oh we need to make sure that this group of people doesn’t feel marginalized, x, y, z-and then in their practice, when they see these things happening, there is nothing being done, and that is where the problem is really occurring. Again, that is that empathy point. You need to make sure that you are going back and feeling for those people you are advocating for and you’re not being their savior, you’re being their ally and you’re being their ally at all times – even when it’s hard. I’m not being an ally when it’s easy for me, when I have the platform to do it. I’m being an ally when this is a hard thing to say, this is uncomfortable for me and I know that at the end of the day this will elevate the group capacity, which makes it worth it.  

Q: What has been most rewarding regarding your nonprofit work? 

A: I think a huge thing for me is just knowing so many people in our community and knowing so many people at Plant, and just having that sense of community is really strong for me because I think because I’m meeting so many people and getting to know them and hearing their stories and hearing what they have to say and making sure I am intentional about that, that then makes everything worth it. At the end of the day, my work and any work that we should be doing and working hard for today is to uplift society in some capacity, and I want to make sure that I know the people I am working for and working with, working with being the main part of that. So I want to make sure when I’m working with these humans that they know I know them, and that when I don’t get to spend every minute with them and hear their stores that I still hear them and I still have that huge sense of community and that basis of even though I might be doing paper work and figuring out what Unity Day’s going to be and entering in data and emails at my internship, you know I know at the end of the day this all culminates to the community I’m working for and the higher purpose of social justice advocacy and developing others to do the same. So, it’s not just me doing all those things – it’s also me preparing others to do the same in a greater capacity.  

Q: What inspires you the most? 

A: There’s a lot of people that inspire me. I think it’s so easy to say that like one pinnacle successful person inspires me, but I think there’s two sides to that. One side is again that sense of community, my community inspires me because I see that people push themselves and I say, ‘Why can’t I do that?’ so I push myself, too. I want to make sure that I’m going that extra step, that extra few steps, not just one step all the time, so I feel like that is one part that inspires me. And another part that inspires me is I think so often we see really terrible things on headlines and that depletes everything. It depletes your energy, it depletes your mood, it depletes your belief that there is still good in humanity. So I make sure that I’m also spreading myself and reading things that are positive that bring joy into the world, so I know that this fight that I am fighting and the fight that the people I work with are fighting for is also this mutual feeling and this mutual practice that other people in this world are also fighting for. I feel like just having that sense of community of people here in Tampa, having that community of people who I may not know exactly, but I know that are all working for that same goal of social justice and elevating society, is also a huge motivator. Then there’s always that casual Oprah Winfrey. She is amazing, and she brings a lot of joy and life into this world, you know, but I think that at the end of the day its more my community that makes me excited and invigorated about what I am doing.  

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment? 

A: My biggest accomplishment is the growth that I have been willing and embracing and accepting since day one. I don’t think it’s one thing I’ve done. I don’t think it’s one thing I have won or achieved. I think it’s me being extremely willing, and extremely willing to the point where I’m pushing myself, you know working two jobs and doing all these things, you know that. Taking everything and growing with it. Taking everything and knowing that at the end of the day, when I am not doing this, in another month or year I am going to look back and acknowledge that that was difficult, and I gained something from it. I think being that person who can take each experience, grow with it and use it to help others do the same and do better, specifically do better, because if I’m just doing good and no one is doing the same then it ends in 80 years when I’m, you know, not here. I definitely strongly believe that just embracing everything that happens whether it be good, bad, painful, you know, joyous, you just really need to embrace it in its fullness in order for you to grow, and that is really hard especially when it’s that painful thing you have to embrace, because embracing pain is weird, you know, like why would you embrace pain but there is always something that come along with it. And I have definitely embraced a lot of pain that I have had, and I’ve embraced a lot of joyous feelings and excitement and making sure I am also celebrating that with people who want to celebrate it with me. So, having that again, community, community is a huge thing for me, having that community who I can go and celebrate with, having that community where I can go back and who support me and who I can support them. So, I feel like that’s been a huge accomplishment for me, being fulfilled by the people who I am surrounded with, me being able to fulfill the people I am surrounded with as well, so they aren’t only filling my cup, I’m making sure that I am doing the same for them. It’s having empathy that I’m maybe having a bad day, but they are maybe having a bad day as well, and we are both there together, you know, I think that me being able to do that had been a huge success.  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




*

Navigate Left
  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Freshman wins county championship

  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Senior musician plays at Carnegie Hall

  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Jewish student club changes name

  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Students fight cancer

  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Students fight for safety

  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Senior draws awareness to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay

  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Student advocates for environmental preservation

  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Teachers win with rock and roll

  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Senior draws awareness to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay

  • Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay

    Features

    Student trains dogs for dog shows

Navigate Right
The student-run news site of H. B. Plant High School
Senior advocate supports Community Tampa Bay