Today was the final group's community project in Riverside. I confess to always secretly worrying that no kids will show up, but as I cognitively know from experience, they will come. At 4 we had a few kids, but as always, they began to trickle in and a few even arrived just before we finished at 5. The group was great to include the late comers and help them with projects.
They never tire of Bingo; it is one of their favorite activities. One mother joined us today, and played Bingo with us. It is always great when the parents come with their children and it adds to our credibility with the community that parents are aware of who we are and what we are doing.
I also had the great surprise of two of the "graduates" from the first years stop by and hang out with a while. It was so good to see them and we enjoyed that they stopped by for snacks and to visit. One of the young men has graduated high school and is working and going to college part time. His younger brother is in high school now. Their two younger brothers still come every time we are there.
As always, we had a roomful very quickly and I wonder why I worry. We had Bingo going at one end of the room, and arts and crafts and flash cards at the other. It never ceases to amaze me that you give children blank paper and markers and they will create art. They also talk while they are working and it is such an opportunity to encourage and validate them and their efforts.
As I have mentioned before, I love seeing the students in the community--out of the classroom--as they are always so different here and I get more of a sense of who they are. Somehow when we are in the community, it feels more egalitarian and that I am less of the "teacher" and more of a colleague.
It was a gorgeous afternoon today, with sunshine and clear skies and temperature up to 60 with no wind, so it was a beautiful day to be out in the community. I was standing on the porch of the community room, admiring the red of the tree leaves in the sun. D and D--the older guys--came out and asked what I was taking a picture of. I think it seemed strange that I was taking a picture of the tree (with my iPhone, as I failed to bring the camera yet again). We talked a bit, and the older D said he had no idea we were still coming. I expressed how happy I was to see them both, and how glad I was that they stopped by and hung out with us for a while.
I know anyone who reads regularly has read my posts about Riverside and the classes before, and it must sound like a re-run of last season's shows. Truly, being there with the community members and the students who work so hard to make these activities a reality, just literally makes my heart sing. If I could do anything that I thought would make a difference in the world, it would be to ensure that every child had access to a quality education, and had people who would validate, support, and encourage them and all the natural gifts they possess.
If anyone could join us in these activities, talk with the children and the parents who join us, it would help erase stereotypes. It would engender hope and belief, and we can certainly use a good dose of that in this fear-mongering world that seeks to divide us and make us afraid of each other. Thanks to another great group of students for carrying it on, and may they continue to have the fire and passion.