Day 59 Question 59:
What is something you have done that you are really proud of?
I have just been overly tired this week. I think my body is still adjusting to the time change and my hormones are just raging inside of me so my body is desiring rest when I have a chance. Mentally I feel good..still trucking away with the millions of ideas and thoughts that ache to come out of me in different forms. Although tired, I am still pushing myself at the gym and taking the little porkchops (the girls I take care of/nanny) for walks everyday. The scale has been taunting me by showing larger numbers but I truly feel that I must be weighing heavier because of the working out. There is NO WAY I could have gained weight with all that I have been doing and the healthier eating. I AM NOT GOING TO STRESS AND OBSESS!!!!
Yesterday, I was going through old emails and pictures on my zip drives ad I came across a lot of pictures of when I worked for a local nonprofit. I was the Education Manager for a Youth Service organization. This organization recruited students grade 6-12 and they would volunteer in the community by doing different projects and they would earn community service hours which in turn could help them on their journey to college. The organization had close to 200 members. My job was to teach Teen Outreach Program classes. These classes included subjects such as self-esteem/self-image, goal setting, STD education, Pregnancy Prevention, career/college readiness. I covered a lot of important topics that students needed to become accustomed to in order to ready them for their future. There were only 3 employees of the organization while I was there and I will admit that I did not enjoy working with my coworkers. We were NEVER on the same page and I always felt like there was a strong racial and cultural divide (they were both southern born and raised black women-they were also first cousins, and I am a white woman from the north). They focused strongly on religion (although they never practiced what they preached) and this was not the method I chose to use in order to bring awareness and education to my students. This is insignificant though…I loved my job (even through the stress and sometimes the backlash I received from some of my students). I loved being able to create lessons and I loved being able to talk to youth about the ever-changing world around us. I desire to talk to youth all of the time just to see where our future is headed and to see what their take on the world is nowadays. It is exciting (and sometimes scary) to see how much we have progressed or regressed.
In April 2010 I organized, planned and implemented a Youth Summit for students grades 6-12 in my county. This was part of my job description because I worked under a grant that required the planning of a large community project. This youth summit took place at a local church which had a large community meeting area as well as classrooms. 130+ students from all local middle and high schools were chosen to attend (students chose randomly-the goal was to have a very diverse crowd). This event took many months of planning and I recruited students from all schools (2 from each) to form a committee that would be a part of the planning process. The summit was a 12 hour day for students that included break-out sessions/workshops. I brought in a guest speaker named Azeem, who was absolutely wonderful! He had such a strong, positive message for the students-he focused on not following the crowd and influencing the students to be their own individual. His message was really powerful but his humor kept the students involved and interested (check out the video below of his improve comedy). He even did a breakout session called “For the Boys” in which he discussed what it truly means to be a man…it does not mean making money and getting women. Other breakout sessions included: Etiquette, Team-Building (students had to interact with other students from other schools on various projects), Goal-Setting, Career-Building, and Pregnancy Prevention/STD Education. The theme of the Summit was: Colors of the Future: No Limits No Lines. The students that I recruited decided that since the main objective was educating youth about diversity that they would use the theme and compare it to a box of crayons. All colors are different but all are beautiful—there are no limits and no lines. In the main meeting room where ALL students gathered at the beginning and the end of the day we did what we called a “Mini-Epcot”. In this room students could participate in a wide variety of activities including a scavenger hunt that would require them to meet and interact with students they did not know as well as learning about different cultures around the world. This room was amazing because it was filled with youth of different ages, genders, colors, cultures, sexual orientations, etc. and all of them were being brought together. Students were able to play different board games and challenge each other mentally (Check out some pictures below).
There were far too many highlights to say that one in particular was my favorite but there was one that definitely does stand out. For the closing of the summit, one of my students (a young Mexican girl) brought in her mother and church group to do a traditional Mexican dance. These people wore traditional Mexican attire and before performing the student that brought the group in described what the dance meant and all of the people who were involved. She stood up there talking to a group of 150+ people and it was obvious that she was nervous but I don’t know if I have come across too many people that are as proud of their culture as she is. The dance was beautiful and a sight that I wish so many people would have been able to experience. It was the perfect ending to one of the best days of my life. I was a huge part of this entire process. I planned from beginning to end and I don’t think I could have asked for a better outcome. Three local newspapers actually did feature articles and 2 news stations ran the story for 2 days (talk about nerve-racking to have to do a television interview). This was a letter featured in one of the local newspapers:
On March 5, Service Over Self, a youth organization of Georgetown County whose mission is “ethics of service” held its annual Youth Summit Day.
Students from all of Georgetown County’s intermediate and high schools, Lowcountry Day School, the Georgetown Marine Institute, Howard Adult and Community Education Center, as well as students who are home schooled, participated in a day of “Diversity.”
This was one of the largest youth summits ever held by Service Over Self. An undertaking this large requires a lot of preparation, time and volunteers to have a successful event.
The Youth Summit was held at St. Paul’s Waccamaw United Methodist Church in the Litchfield Beach area. A special thanks goes to St. Paul’s.
The board of directors would like to thank the volunteers who gave of their time, energy and commitment for the entire day, the students who attended and the staff of Service Over Self for a job well done.
I look back on moments like these and although not everything always ran smoothly (that is life), I feel truly lucky to have these experiences in life. It shows me the kind of person that I am and I am able to feel proud of my accomplishments and my overall morals and values. I love being a part of projects that serve the greater good. This was an opportunity that I was so lucky to have had even though I was unable to stay with the organization due to budget cuts. It drove me to find more of my passions and my meaning in life. I have attached some pictures as well as the improv video of the guest speaker. I wish I had more stuff to show but unfortunately a lot was left with the organization when I left. I hope you enjoy what I am able to share. :0)