November 28, 2012
The last two times I attended my service at Acts4Youth were very different than others. I learned more about the students I did not know before, and the experiences with the students were a little different than normal. My experiences can be connected to the play “Twelfth Night or, What You Will” by William Shakespeare. In this play the character Viola disguises herself as a man when she enters a new land and becomes a service to the Duke of Orsino. After all the falling in love by all the characters the twisted plot all comes back to the covering up and disguise of one’s own self. The boys at Acts4Youth use this technique of hiding who they are sometimes because they may feel embarrassed, or they want to feel like another person to have the life they want.
The day that I go to this school revolves around athletic training and skills the boys would need to be a good teammate. Other days there are sessions where the boys are encouraged to talk about situations in their lives. Even though I do not attend this day I have heard from other volunteers that the boys may not share everything because they could be embarrassed with what they would say. Because of this they “disguise” themselves and almost forget about what really is going on in their lives. Of course not every boy is from an unfortunate household but we are told as volunteers that a lot of them are, and this is why the program was started. It is hard for young boys in general to express how they really feel and if they are embarrassed by something greater than a normal embarrassment then they most likely will not show emotion. Covering up their real life is a way to go through living their life without thinking of the troubles they may be going through. This is not the exact case of Viola, but overall she wanted to hide who she was and could not reveal that she was a girl.
The boys may want to feel like they are a different person at times because of the life they may have. For example, I was helping a boy with his homework who I had never interacted with before, and in the end he was crying a little because I was circling the math problems that he got wrong. I had no intention of making him sad but he seemed that it made him sensitive and he was having problems accepting that he was wrong and could not take no for an answer. This overall represents that hiding emotions and hiding what actually affects a person can be a good thing for the time being but in the end it may not be such a good thing.
Hiding a true identity is done a lot and not always for the right reason. The boys hiding their lives is not a bad thing at all because it may be hard for them to express what is really going on in their lives. This is one of the most surprising things I have learned while doing this because unless you actually think about what the boys are going through you will never know. As volunteers we can attempt to help them tell us what is going on and if we cannot at least we can try to help them in any way they need.