Mixit Alumni Lead The Way

June 23, 2024

Mixit Alumni Squad members Ray Santiago (Left) and Oscar Arnold (Right).

In a world where creativity and inclusivity can be a powerful antidote to adversity, our partner charity, Mixit, is leading the way. Mixit is not only transforming lives but also inspiring a new generation of leaders and change-makers. Meet Oscar and Ray, two Alumni representatives who are passionate about paying it forward and making a difference in the lives of young people across Aotearoa.

Mixit helps young people find hope, optimism, and resilience. They provide a supportive platform for young people from different backgrounds, including refugee and migrant communities, to build confidence, self-expression, and communication skills.

The Alumni programme is a pillar of Mixit. Their focus on training the alumni in co-facilitation skills empowers the current squad of 10 to deliver ‘Create & Connect’ workshops around Aotearoa, supporting former refugee youth in resettlement regions.  

Recently this has been in Dunedin and Palmerston North, with an upcoming youth development hui in Hamilton and a workshop in Auckland where they will lead a workshop to inspire international students. 2024 sees continuing partnerships in Christchurch, Wellington and other resettlement regions.

Two Squad representatives, Oscar Arnold and Ray Santiago, reflect on what being part of this initiative means.

Oscar, who started with Mixit as a teenager, says, "I like working with young people because I remember what it was to be young and have energy and curiosity. It's awesome to be able to korero, share knowledge, experience and give back. Doing this with Mixit is unique as there's a lot of things I would find hard to access anywhere else. Not only is there a vibrant international community, both within our Squad and with those we work with, but we get opportunities for mentoring, collaboration and the support to refine nuanced facilitation skills. I really enjoy the co-leadership model at Mixit, we all have strengths and can support each other."

Oscar Arnold. Mixit Alumni Squad

Ray, who joined Mixit as a creative intern after graduating with a degree in Performing Arts backs this up. “I am motivated by the support that I offer young people, especially the refugee and migrant youth in Aotearoa, knowing that this work can change the lives of displaced youth for the better. Mixit is full of individuals from such different walks of life coming from diverse backgrounds, cultures and disciplines so I am consistently reminded that Mixit is a good space for me to be in.”

Ray Santiago. Mixit Alumni Squad

Feedback from young people through the Mixit Aotearoa Outreach programme highlights the inspirational Alumni leadership. Responses are similar no matter where or which ethnic communities they’re from:

I love the energy and awesomeness of these leaders.
They have given me a chance to speak in front of our people with more confidence.
I like meeting new people and they have really helped me with my English.
They encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone, which is important to my future here in NZ.

As Mixit Alumni gain professional skills to lead, manage and actively contribute to young people coming up behind them, they also experience a direct impact on their personal lives. As Oscar puts it, "Not only has growing up through Mixit been transformational in its own right, but being part of this organisation has specifically transformed my career trajectory which is now heading towards facilitating workshops to explore the climate systems through theatre."

Ray also reflects on the impact on his professional pathway. “I enjoy the process of co-facilitating, the planning and delivery, through to post-meetings that reflect and acknowledge each other in the team. The journey in each co-facilitation is always different and I learn a lot about myself, the work that we do, and my teammates, in a professional, yet nurturing, and challenging environment. My involvement with Mixit helps me become more compassionate, empathetic and patient, on top of also being more inclusive with the spaces I occupy. I can encourage many more people, and have given more acknowledgements and gratitude for people in my life. As a creative, I like working in different types of spaces that allow for a range of expressions and through my work with Mixit I can be a better version of myself by being in service to the youth that will be the next generation of leaders, trailblazers and innovators.”

Words and images supplied by Mixit.

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