Lily Sweet’s event was the very first time that students from all community high schools came together. Students arrived as strangers, but many left as friends. “It was a powerful moment,” Lily Sweet said. “In high school, it can be awkward to talk to kids you don’t know, especially when it comes to tense issues, so I designed conversation cards for the event to get people talking. It’s so important for people, especially youth, to discuss the issues they see in their communities and come together to find viable solutions.”
The conversation started out with lighter questions, like “What school do you go to?” and “What activities are you involved in?” and later moved on to harder topics, like lack of school resources and economic segregation. “These conversations were able to show the students that although some of us might go to a school in the north side of town and others attend schools on the south side of town, we’re not so different at all,” Lily Sweet said. “That’s the problem with economic segregation: it makes you think you are different. But when you come together and engage in conversation, you can actually see a lot of similarity and find solutions to your problems.”
Overall, Lily Sweet’s Longest Table event was a huge success. She even wrote an essay about it that won her a national award from the Heather Heyer Foundation and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation for standing against hate and working to help ease racial divisions in her community. As part of the award, Lily was invited to ride in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, on New Year’s Day 2018, an experience she says she’ll never forget.
Susan Bro, the mother of a young civil rights activist named Heather Heyer who was killed while standing up for social justice with her friends in August of 2017, was impressed with Lily Sweet’s Gold Award project. “Lily Sweet’s project exemplifies the concepts of inclusion and reaching out of our comfort zones to expand our circle of friends and acquaintances,” said Susan, who is the cofounder of the Heather Heyer Foundation. “Finding points of connection with those around us is a key part of strengthening our communities. What better way to do that than by breaking bread together?”
"Finding points of connection with those around us is a key part of strengthening our communities. What better way to do that than by breaking bread together?”
When Lily Sweet looks back at all that she has been able to accomplish at such a young age, she says she couldn’t have done it without Girl Scouts: “Without Girl Scouts, I don’t think I would have ever thought to even do something like this. Being a Girl Scout has given me a lot of confidence to speak out, take on big challenges, and know the difference between right and wrong.”