What a whirlwind few weeks... With lots of prayers I finished the Apprenticeship, and also started and finished a part-time job doing before care (watching kids before school from 6:30-8:30). This past weekend I started as City Staff with CSM, which I'm pretty pumped about. The new staff arrived Sunday from all over the country, and we're beginning grueling training to get them ready for the busy summer. Please pray for them as they learn about Philly!
So this blog is going to take a little bit of a change now that I won't be volunteering as regularly as before. I'm not sure what it's going to look like, but I hope to still keep everyone updated on what I'm learning and other fun stories in Philly.
But before we leave the Apprenticeship behind, one last story from the after school program.
For those of you who know me, you know I'm not a huge skirt person. I like my blue jeans. But the last day I was at the after school program also happened to be the night of the Art Show, and so I decided to whip out a skirt for the last night. When the students arrived after school, one girl's mouth literally dropped open when she saw me. "Miss!" She yelled. "What you wearin' a skirt for? You look better in jeans!" I'm not sure that even counts as a back handed compliment. But that's what you often get when you work with middle schoolers :)
I didn't think much on it, mostly because I've come to ignore most of the "compliments" that the girls give before they think about what they're saying. She didn't really let it go though, and I heard her mention how I shouldn't be wearing a skirt several times through the afternoon. It didn't occur to me until later that she wasn't trying to be mean.
This girl was one of the older ones in our group. She's graduating in a few weeks and about to head on to high school. She likes basketball and dancing and tostones. Up until recently, she was a part of the Step team, but her leg was injured and she found out she wasn't allowed to Step in the show last Friday night only two weeks before. She took it with grace and supported those who were still stepping.
Just before the show was about to start she asked me if she should wear her sweatpants or her basketball shorts with the t-shirt we had all been given. I told her I didn't care, either one would be fine. But she kept insisting, "Which one? Which one?" I told her the black basketball shorts would look good with the blue shirt, and she said, "Yeah, I know it looks good, but what are they going to think out there? Can I wear basketball shorts out there?"
That's when it hit me. Since she was the only one of the girls not performing, she didn't have a uniform to wear, anyone to match. She didn't want to be dressed down alone. And, that's also when I realized why she was so upset about me wearing a skirt. Going in to the day, planning what she would wear that night, she thought she could count on me to be her partner in dressing down.
It doesn't really matter what you wear to a Youth Art Show, really, but the point here is that you need to be yourself. People know when you are yourself, and then they rely on you to be that way. I like dressing up for events like this, but it didn't occur to me that this girl wasn't being judgmental towards me all the other days that I was dressed down. In fact, she was identifying with me. That night, as I tried to tell her it didn't matter what she wore that night she explained to me timidly that she doesn't really like to dress up all the time. She likes to every now and then, but she likes to look "cool", if you will.
I guess I didn't realize that through being myself I was helping someone else come to terms with who they were, and allow her to feel comfortable with herself. And that's also when I learned that my impact there might have been deeper than I thought.
So here's to a group of awesome young women, who are struggling to figure out who they are in their school, in this world, in their new schools, and more. I have high hopes for them and what they will accomplish, and the kind of women they will be one day. Please pray for them with me, that they never give up on themselves, and all they can become.
Friday, May 4, 2012
For the little kids in before care, I decided to try some plants. We have strawberries, daisies, parsley, and sunflowers. The thing I love about the elementary schoolers is that they are so excited about everything. When I asked the kids if they wanted to try growing plants, a few of them gasped, one yelled "I LOVE PLANTS!" and a third drew a picture:
Yes, "Girls Rule" is important to know when gardening.
Here's the kids plants:
You can see the parsley peeking out. Here's some more photos:
Hopefully the strawberries will come out soon! They can take a little while.