Last week, 16-year-old Christian Buonopane received the news that he has been selected to serve on the Project 351 2021 Alumni Leadership Council (ALC). Aimed at furthering leadership development and transformative impact through service, the ALC is composed of high school students who are alumni of Project 351. Along with 101 other high school leaders, Buonopane will be spending the year gaining the knowledge, skills, and tools to progress positive social change. In the interview below, the active sophomore shares how he initially got involved with the organization, what he learned in the kickoff virtual summit that was held last weekend, and what he’s looking forward to in the upcoming year.
What led you to being selected for the leadership role with Project 351?
I was recognized as a Project 351 Ambassador to represent Winthrop in eighth grade. I had always been involved in student council and other activities related to student government and believe that these were some of the reasons I was selected. Ms. Amy Gallagher had been very instrumental with that and I will be forever grateful for her inspiration, guidance and support. As ambassador, I led multiple service projects including clothing and food drives. At the start of high school, I was fortunate to be chosen to continue my involvement in Project 351 when I was selected to be a member of the Regional Service Team, a team of students from surrounding communities that helps lead larger scale community service projects. This year, I was picked to be an Alumni Unity Leader and will represent Winthrop at summits, helping to plan service projects, and build unity.
Why do you think Project 351 is important for students and what do you hope to gain from it?
Being a part of Project 351 has been an amazing experience and continues to provide me opportunities to better myself as an individual and as a leader. Project 351 values compassion, empathy, kindness and gratitude while helping to cultivate leaders and promote community action.
What did you learn at the virtual summit?
The Project 351 Virtual Leadership Summit was an enlightening experience. I learned that despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the current political climate, and the racism crisis in our country, positive change is still possible. When we unite together as one, we can confront and overcome dividing issues and challenging situations. Now, more than ever, it is important that we strive to be advocates for unity and community.
What other activities are you involved in?
In the pre-COVID world, I was active in student council, drama, mock trial, model UN, and I just joined the high school sailing team. Fortunately, I’ve been able to continue to participate in some activities, though remotely.
What are your future career goals?
I particularly enjoy English, history, and politics and I plan to attend college with a future goal of becoming an attorney. In the meantime I plan to continue my involvement with Project 351 throughout High School.
About Project 351
Founded in 2011, Project 351 fosters unity and strengthens the ethic of service through the engagement and enrichment of an eighth-grade Ambassador from every city and town in Massachusetts. Annually, Ambassadors – who exemplify the values of kindness, compassion, humility, and gratitude – are selected to engage in a transformative year of youth-led service. Through Project 351, Ambassadors gain skills for a lifetime of service, strengthen the ethic of civic engagement, and scale service impact to address the causes and consequences of poverty. In 2021, Ambassadors will mark one million neighbors served. Project 351 is funded entirely by the private sector and individuals.