It's so hard to believe that it's been almost two years since I've posted a blog...
...Two years... a LOT has happened in that amount of time. Two years filled with happiness and heartache alike, two years filled with laughter and tears, two years filled with life and death. It comes as no surprise to me that this week is the week I decide to write once more... and what a week it's been. This week has proven to me that I made the right choice when I decided to stay in NYC. This week has given me hope that the path I've taken is leading me in the direction of change that I've aspired to make in the world; to help change the world one kid at a time knowing that if their worlds are changed it will contribute to them taking the steps necessary in changing the worlds of those around them creating a beautiful domino effect of change. Because change is a choice I teach them that choices + actions = consequences (thank you Augusto Boal).
My jobs consist of working with an array kids some who are unprivileged, homeless or who come from the foster care system. These kids have seen it all, heard it all, and nothing phases them. So when I first set off to teach this particular group I worked with, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Will they like me? Will I be able to relate to them? What can I possibly teach them? These are the questions that fluttered in my mind as I walked past the street filled with Albanian mafia members standing next to their Mercedes Benz' and Lexus'. These questions remained unanswered as I continued past the housing projects that are just one block away from the school. It's the first time in a long time that I was truly acutely aware of my whiteness.
As the weeks went on, I learned more and more about these amazing girls who decided to join my club. They were strong, resilient, and although they confessed that they thought I was weird at first they continued to come back week after week, club after club. Now we're at the end of our road, and I could not be sadder about it. I keep wondering if I did enough. If there was something else I could've done to make sure that my message of seeing life through a positive lens sunk in.
This very last week of club my girls told me that I made a positive impact on their lives. Me of all people! I couldn't really believe it only because in the beginning I was so unsure of how I would even get along with these kids! Some of them were crying so of course I had to do everything I could to not cry and they continued to tell me that they really appreciated how I would take whatever problem they were facing and give it a positive spin, find a way in which it was something that was good for them, making it an experience to learn from. It was incredibly moving.
These girls taught me that the roughest neighborhoods house some of the most beautiful souls I've met, that although they're tough exterior may proceed them it doesn't make up who they are and that the work I'm doing is valuable and appreciated. These girls also taught me how teenagers' opinions on important topics such as sex education in schools or violence in schools can be varied and valuable. I had never really had such conversations with teenagers before this group came into my life so I was surprised when their opinions didn't match up and how just by listening to each other they opened their eyes to different points of view.
Girls, if your reading this... I am so honored and touched that you allowed me into your lives, opened up your hearts, and shared your thoughts and opinions with me. I will undoubtedly miss you to pieces and will constantly be sending you every ounce of good vibes I have. You deserve amazing lives and through perseverance, dedication, and love you're bound to have them! Keep your chins up during times of struggle and heartache and remember that YOU are special and if at the time you don't feel special know that you'll ALWAYS be special to me!
"Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties."
PS-The picture at the top of the blog is of a poster that was made during club today together with the art club. The art club painted the Leadership logo and the girls colored and wrote in the papers that say "leadership has taught me". Good times!