Volunteer day

spending the day with fourth graders at the elementary school down the street from me, talking about science and engineering, building towers out of marshmallows and toothpicks, encouraging teamwork and fun, and laughing it up with the kids. i love ten year olds. even the shy ones you can still get through to with a little personal interest and a joke or two. the girls covered me in hugs before i left and the boys all were insistent on telling me what they knew. kids just want to be acknowledged, to be listened to, to be taken seriously, to be treated with love no matter what their background or behavior. it was the most beautiful, diverse, fun loving class i’ve presented to and i left giggling as they sang ‘goodbyyyyyyyyyyyyye’ as we left the room, keeping it on the same note til we were gone. when i gave away the OMSI ticket, the boy who won said ‘this is the luckiest day of my life’ and was truly thrilled. these kids come from all over the city, from all sorts of backgrounds, and are every color of the spectrum. their teacher shares her soul every single day and if i could remember her mantra to get kids to quiet down and listen – clap once if you hear me (clap!), clap twice if you hear me (clap clap!!), clap three times if you’re ready to listen (clap clap clap!!!). she works magic every day yet they don’t even have the money for basic supplies. when i think of the fact that there was another gang shooting at the park adjacent to the school this last weekend, 3 blocks from my own home, it just wrenches on my heart. so i hope that anything i was able to do impacted them in a positive way. twisting to let the helicopter balloon fly above me and eliciting great laughter, sitting down with the kid who said he didn’t want to be an engineer and just wanted to play football (yet had the most creative plan of all of the kids), and getting even the kids just looking for the easy way out to instead focus on how to be creative? best afternoon i could have asked for.

my engineering partner said it so perfectly when we left – ‘after being with the kids today, all i can think about is how the government is spending all this money bailing out banks, but doing nothing for the schools’. bingo.

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. ~Frederick Douglass


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