As I struggle to regain a normal schedule after a long week that included my trip to New Orleans, a special event and many extra-curricular activities; I find myself exhausted, but inspired to share stories about how life situations have built my character. I am writing this post without a title and hope when I get to the end I will be enlightened to assign a title to this series.
Many years ago I was compelled to volunteer to improve my community/state and my first attempt was to participate as a writing coach for College Summit-(www.collegesummit.org) “Annually serving 36,000 students in 9th through 12th grade, College Summit is the nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of low-income youth by connecting them to college and career. College Summit uses peer leadership, custom curricula, real-time student performance data and technology to help get these high school students from low-income communities to and through college.” I thought impacting the future of young adults would offer the perfect opportunity and intrigued me.
The assignment required a weekend commitment at a local college, living in the dorms, eating cafeteria food and spending a few late nights with teenagers, similar to college, but with a different focus. I met other writing coaches there that I am still connected with and kids that while not connected now, I often wonder what happened to them. As coaches, we spent a few hours learning the ropes and our role in eking out a captivating story from each student to submit for college applications. As in many things of life you are never really prepared by learning from a book, but we all listened intently and prepared for our two full days of influencing these young minds.
After spending the first day of instruction, I wondered if two days was enough time to make an impact and get the task accomplished. I continued to focus on my training of how to connect with my students so that I could build a level of trust and ultimately incite them to share their unique story. We all spent the second day combing through stories to find the power statement from each story since each writing coach had to share a short statement during the closing ceremony.
Needless to say many of us were anxious as the day flew by, but we were all determined to reach our goal and propel these students to the next level in life by applying for college. When the day ended my physical and mental fatigue was beyond my control, but I still had one last task and that was to present each students power statement to others during the closing ceremony.
I found myself presenting each statement to the group and it occurred to me that while I may have made a difference in these students’ lives, what really happened was I became the one transformed by giving of myself, listening to others and encouraging them to be their best.
In closing, I hope that you will find a way to pay it forward and allow your experience to alter your character.
Have an Enlightened Day,