Lidia State holds a masters degree in Human Resources, Psychology, and Organizational Health, and is one of the most experienced student volunteers in the IMPACT club network in Cluj-Napoca. Lidia became a volunteer for New Horizons Foundation in 2009, and in the fall of 2010 she began to help facilitate activities at the IMPULS club at Eugen Pora Theoretical High School. Over the last few years she has been a consistent help for teachers and leaders, as well as a good friend to club members, who are very attached to her. She has succeeded, through her energy and enthusiasm, to permanently motivate the youth in her club, as well as help them achieve projects that are consistently more complex and more interesting.
The beginning of her time as a club leader, Lidia remembers, was not easy -- the kids were brazen, distrustful, and convinced that nothing they were doing was going to make a difference, that they didn't have enough power to change things in their community. With time, however, the kids became attached to Lidia, perhaps because she became "one of them." In addition, she had helped developed what it meant to have membership in the group -- looking out for each other, calling each other, communicating on Facebook, and so on. All of this effort gave courage to the members of IMPULS, and with their growing experience, they began to implement more complex projects. As one of the members described it, "Lidia lifted us up as a group and also lifted up every individual person. She taught us to see ourselves first as a whole and then to study every part separately. She studied us (without us even realizing it!) and helped us become better people, challenging us to come with ideas that we didn't even know existed in ourselves."
In IMPACT, the relationship between members and their leader is extremely important. Lidia observed that the youth were especially happy if they received appreciation from their teachers for what they were doing, or even if their teachers simply attended events they organized. From this observation she realized how much she had learned by working with youth from IMPACT. "Before, I was the type of person who wanted to finish everything quickly and take on more tasks. I wanted immediate results, and if I had to do all the work by myself, I would," Lidia said. "Through IMPACT I have learned to take a step back, to simply raise a question and let others come with ideas -- sometimes with better ideas than mine."
Lidia quickly recognized what sets a good IMPACT leader apart from others: willingness and openness to learn, and to apply that learning as appropriate with her age and her own life experiences. "I sensed how to create trust [amongst my youth]. I know how I was in high school, and I didn't know then that I would someday be capable or need to be a facilitator." Working as a leader has had a visible impact on her own personal development. As Lidia explains, "I have really appreciated this part. I have recognized some qualities that I didn't know I had -- as well as some weaknesses, such as needing to talk less!" In addition, Lidia testifies that being a volunteer with IMPACT has helped her to develop abilities in the areas of communication, project management, facilitation, training, and conflict resolution.
Although time no longer allows Lidia to serve as an IMPACT club leader (she is now a regional coordinator for IMPACT clubs in the Cluj area), her experience of over three years of direct work with an IMPACT club remains a positive experience that she draws on for both personal and professional development. "For me, the whole thing was wonderful, and I think that's why I stayed so long. It was the longest collaborative relationship I've had -- I had volunteered before, but with NHF it was the longest. This is the world we live in. We don't know exactly what we can do and what we can't, but IMPACT gives us the chance to try and to learn. Learning through experience. And this is valuable not only for the kids, but also for the leaders."
One of the members of IMPULS remembers her first interaction with Lidia like this: "After the first day Lidia came to our group as a leader, there were two particular things about her that became evident: her characteristic sociability and natural enthusiasm. I am positive that Lidia was one of the principle factors that helped us in our personal development and our development as a group, which now is more united than ever. Lidia's presence and guidence was essential for our club, which many times was close to destruction. In addition to the fact that she taught us many things that were essential to how we get along as a group, Lidia also was always close to all of us members, with a relationship much more like friendship than superior-subordinate. This sort of relationship forms the basis of understanding in any community, whether big or small."