Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Two things.

1. Listen/watch this. It makes me happy. It speaks to me. She is a stud. She is the woman we should all believe we are inside.

2. I'm busy planning summer. All my kids want to go swimming and go to the lake and a water park and go camping. Only problem -- almost all of the girls don't own a swim suit. So I've enlisted the help of my church and family to help me purchase suits for the girls. We looked online and found some good ones under $20 at Kohl's. The girls are super modest and were very concerned that the material would "show our dots". Priceless.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I really love my job.

I get to go roller skating and to the science museum. I get to play UNO and have four-square tournaments. I get hugs and renditions of We are the World. This is a great way to spend a year serving my country.

I've been really busy these past few weeks. Many people have no clue what I do every day, and when I explain that I run an after school program within St. Paul Public Housing, they usually exclaim how lovely it must be to have to work from only 3 to 6 every day. This, however, is not my life.

In any given week, I may have meetings with new residents, other service providers in the community centers, the Minnesota Alliance with Youth, the Wilder Foundation and my many supervisors. I plan daily programming, purchase supplies, snacks, etc., write grants, interview and hire workers for this summer, manage/find volunteers, arrange buses for field trips, help with homework, find ways for kids to serve their community, plan special civic engagement projects, come up with creative art projects and games to play outside...all while developing good moral character within my kids. :)

I've mentioned this before, but without a doubt, my favorite moments are when I find myself with a small group of kids, sitting on the kitchen counters and talking about life. Perhaps I love this so much because growing up, my house was known for its full pantry of Little Debbies, Oreos, you name it. My friends and I spent countless, irreplaceable hours in my kitchen -- it's where we tackled life's biggest issues and answered the biggest questions-- like breaking up with our boyfriends or dying our important.

Today, with trail mix and Goldfish in hand, the girls and I talked about what life was like back home. For three sisters, home is Thailand, but for a new member of Youth Connections, home is Ethiopia. The sisters talked about the freedom to run around the village in the rain and play in the mud. H, from Ethiopia, laughed and squealed, "No!" when the girls asked if she rode camels everywhere. They all talked about the food they ate, with shared utensils and the two plates the family owned. They all shared their feelings when their names were finally posted and they were able to get on a plane to go to America. The sisters talked about how they cried to be leaving their neighborhood. H said she cried when her two brothers were forced to stay behind. They all detested the food on the plane and giggled when they remembered the Americans speaking English to them as if they were to understand.

Today, Asia and Africa and America came together...sitting on kitchen counters...eating Goldfish.

I wonder if there's room in the national defense budget for Goldfish?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Break is exhausting.

Yesterday another AmeriCorps worker, Kari, and I took 40 kids roller skating.

Today, I took kids to a greenhouse where we planted hot peppers, tomatoes, basil, green onions and marigolds to use in the first community garden at Dunedin. Amanda, our greenhouse hostess, told the kids that it's a good idea to plant foods that complement each other near one another, for example, basil next to tomatoes, etc. She asked the kids, "What should we plant hot peppers next to?" Almost in unison, they exclaimed, "Noodles!"

Tomorrow I'll be hiding 180 plastic Easter eggs.
[And waiting for my family to arrive for the weekend!]