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#ShareYourStoryAfrica Initiative Founder Speaks To Orlando Youth

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Mpumi Nobiva was orphaned at 9 years old after losing her mother to HIV/AIDS. She was picked to attend the inaugural class at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa and her life has changed. She has finished graduate coursework at High Point University. Today, she’s an international speaker, mentor, and the founder of “Share Your Story Africa Initiative.”

Nobiva spoke to Boys & Girls Club Hughes Branch youth in Orlando to empower them to become leaders. And she spoke to us for 90.7’s Education Desk.

Nobiva: I have used my story and used the things that have happened to me in my life as tools to empower and move me forward. The fact that I’m an AIDS orphan, or the fact that I was born and raised in poverty, those are things that I understand that actually they, they didn’t happen to me but they happened for me. I’m able to derive value from those experiences because I’m able to contribute in a meaningful way.

You know, when we look at central Florida and we look at HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, the issues that are here as well, it’s a real thing and so you, as a young person can find yourself anywhere in that space and it is how you perceive that experience and it’s how you, you extract the lessons from those experiences that defines who you are not, the experiences themselves.

Chavez: These are students at the Boys & Girls club you spoke to, right?

Nobiva: Yes, the program is called Health and Education Revolution Forum which I loved because it wasn’t just even about like the stories but it’s also about, how do we take better care of ourselves? How do we appreciate our education?

I mean one of the things that I always advocate is for young people to align with what speaks to their hearts. So even if you are in school and, obviously there’s a curriculum that is required, but when you’re able to bring your interests into that space, it makes learning so much more exciting.

Chavez: Are you encouraging these students to do this through media and social media? You know, we’re at the age where, I have a little teen sister and everyone wants to be a YouTube star right, what is your advice to them on harnessing social media?

Nobiva: Absolutely, my advice to them is you’re already spending so much time on it, we already know statistically that young people are spending so much time on these platforms and we also know that it impacts the way you’re viewed in the world. It impacts the way companies recruit and the sort of opportunities that you either attract, or based on your actions, sort of disqualify yourself from. For me, it’s always just been a matter of, it’s clear that it’s unavoidable, it’s something of our time, making use of it I think is the best way.

Chavez: Do you ever wonder, ‘what if I hadn’t gone to this academy?’

Nobiva: Oh yeah, for sure, that’s just something I never take for granted. It’s part of the reason I work so hard. I recognize how much of a privilege it is to be 25 and be living this life and how women who came before me gave up so much so that I could be where I am.

I often say when I’m speaking like, it’s always so amazing when I think about that beautiful moment when I met Michelle Obama and the beautiful moment where I met women like Maya Angelou, like these are powerful dynamic women but in my heart of heart, like the biggest hero in my life is still my grandmother you know, because she works so hard, she worked so hard to make sure that I would be prepared when the opportunity of a lifetime showed up, and that’s how I was able to meet it.

So, that’s just the first part of it, is how was I ready at 13 to step into that role, I didn’t even know what a leader was but I was ushered into this academy where I was referred to as a leader and from very young age groomed for leadership.

The academy changed everything from how I view the world to certainly how I show up and interact in it, and a part of my giving back and part of honoring that is doing what I’m doing now, because it speaks to just the beauty and the power that it has.

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Crystal Chavez

About Crystal Chavez

All Things Considered Host and Reporter

Crystal Chavez comes to WMFE from Texas Public Radio in San Antonio, Texas. She served as the Morning Edition host in the Alamo City for the past three years. Crystal also produced a weekly radio program called Fronteras, providing in-depth reporting on U.S.-Mexico border issues, immigration and changing ... Read Full Bio »