Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Two More Months...

It is strange that pretty soon I will be handing over the torch. August 24th will be my last day of service. We found a new VISTA who will be wonderful. She is already a Big Sister to a little boy in our school based program so she knows our mission.

Today when I was doing some outreach to the community centers I really became excited. I know that they are frequented by children especially during the summer and I could see that the staff were already thinking of children that might be a good fit for the program. Today I also went to one of the public housing offices in Nashville to talk to the director there about BBBS and she was going to present to her residents tonight. I absolutely love community outreach because it is that instant gratification of spreading awareness. Watching the light bulb go on about something that can benefit the community.

I have started to think more seriously about my future as well. I am going to start applying to grad schools so that I can start in the spring. My struggle though is figuring out what exactly I want. I have three areas I am debating between...

Social Work because there is that community interaction and I will be aware of what ails communities and know that I can help and provide suggestions for resources in the community. Also it is a wonderful way to help people who are struggling. Becoming more aware of the challenges that children who have an incarcerated parent experience makes me want to keep giving back to this population.

Education because there is a lot of opportunity to be creative and to inspire. After doing AmeriCorps and delving into the issues of poverty I am better able to deal with what children experience because I have visited homes, talked to parents, and children. Schools are diverse places and I will learn from others which I enjoy. Having the summers off would be a plus to use that time on my other passions.

International Studies (specifically International Human Rights) Ok this might sound random but at the University of Denver they have a major in International Human Rights and I feel like this would grip my soul. On my free time I read about the genocide in Sudan and always revel at the sections in The Economist that talk about injustices in the world. I have always had a profound connection to those throughout the world. I don't know if you know how I feel but sometimes in my life there are times where I am so preoccupied by issues that it is hard to function even. When Hurricane Katrina happened I was just glued to the TV. After doing Periclean Scholars I would discuss the issues of AIDS orphans and women's rights daily. Now with the special children that I am now working with I think about their circumstances all the time.

Y'all have ideas????

I am excited about more of an income again. I was looking at jobs and I would make more than I am now just by doing part time work. Scary, huh??? Especially with concerns about food prices and gas prices I am thankful that I will have the extra security of a bigger check. I am extremelly thankful for the experiences of this last year and really transforming...

I'm doing what I think I was put on this earth to do. And I'm really grateful to have something that I'm passionate about and that I think is profoundly important. (Marian Wright Edelman)

Music City Soul

The Robot

These past few weeks my object has been to find ways to have information all across town about our Amachi program. Last week I connected with the park service to seek permission to have brochure holders with information at all the local community centers (I think about thirty). They are at every corner of town so I have been busy mapquesting all of the sites and I am excited to finish that endeavor. I keep thinking of new places to visit. It is fun how my mentality has changed. I will be watching a movie and realize that child on screen needs a mentor. (the movie is FICTION, Rachel). Or I will be passing a clinic or other important part of a community and wonder if they know about Big Brothers Big Sisters. That is what passion does, take over.

Growing up I knew that children experienced a lot of pain and trauma because my mother was a social worker, but my childhood was pretty carefree. I remember getting together for girl scouts and children telling me “I wish that your mom was my mom,” and that shocked me. My safety was never jeopardized, I always had food to eat and a lot of love. This past year when families open up and honestly give us a glimpse into their lives a lot of pain and struggle come across.

Every once in awhile we receive letters from the inmates about their hopes for their children and what they think about their children receiving a mentor. A father talked about his children and how they are so smart and how he lives for them. He also wrote about how his daughter was taken away for a little while because the child’s mother and he were using drugs. That is overwhelming to me. I feel fortunate to be having this experience because if I go back into the education field I will have a better understanding than many educators of the variety of experiences that can constitute childhood. The epitome of childhood is having the freedom to be a kid and at Kids Club there are definitely those opportunities. Kids Club was this past weekend and was a blast. Music City Soul came out to perform and instruct. They did break dancing…but even more than that. They even had the adults doing the robot and an Egyptian pose. I really appreciate the ability of staff to find some great groups to come in. Sara, a coworker who helps me plan the activities tracked this group down and we have been utilizing their skills a great deal. One of the performers Ronald has had some neat life experiences and articulates himself in a great way to the children. He was talking about the fact that if we have skills, in athletics, in school, etc. that is one thing that, “No one can ever take away from us, no matter what happens.” He asked the children about their talents and they beamed with pride.