Since I have not been able to make it to the past two sessions for Acts 4 Youth I decided that I would reflect on what I have learned from my participation, as well as what I have heard from others. Last week CCSJ had a meeting for all of us to come together and talk about our experiences with the kids and what we see in them, and what we have learned from them. One of the biggest things we noticed is how intelligent the boys truly are. I am envious of some of the volunteers that get to go on different days because they get to learn more about the kids’ lives and therefore interpret how it effects the way they learn and communicate with others. Just from going to this get together I found out that the boy that I spoke of in an earlier entry, who cursed out his teacher, has a reason for such anger and hostility. His father isn’t and hasn’t been around for a while. Whether he still has communication with him is unclear to me but what I have learned is that it bothers him VERY much. He has his good days and his bad days in terms of his feelings towards his father’s absence.
At this meeting I learned so many things about all the kids that I work with, that I don’t get to experience because I can only go once a week. One of the most touching stories I heard was that one of the volunteers (an adult) was driving three of the boys I work with home one afternoon. One of the boys, who is always smiling and always listens when told what to do, started bawling his eyes out in the backseat about his father’s absence. Him and the boys had been speaking of their family lives (unwarranted by the volunteer) on their ride home. It had gotten to him that day that his father wasn’t around to be there for him and his mom. Before the adult could say anything the other two boys in the back started feeding him words of encouragement, patting him on the back, and telling him that everything was going to be okay. They told him not to worry and that they are were for him. The volunteer didn’t say a word to them but instead let the boys help each other out on their own. This story was definitely a beautiful one to hear.
What I am learning from this experience is just how difficult life can be, even for the youngest of children. One of the best things for us to do is to praise them for their good and hard work and never talk down to them or push them away. As volunteers for this program it’s important that we keep our eyes and our hearts open to these children. Just as in Stephanie Shapiro’s article Serving up Hope it is so important for us to know that, although we are not miracle workers, even we can make an impact on these children’s lives. You can also connect this to Whale Rider in terms of being able to accept someone for who they are; no matter their troubles, worries, or differences, we should always try to keep an open mind.