At the moment I am working–no, sorry, serving–for AmeriCorps. I spend four days a week at an elementary school and the other day planning service projects for the community. I am also required to complete a slew of forms and fulfill all kinds of documentation requirements each quarter. One part of these requirements is that we are asked to write two “Great Stories” about the ways in which our service has positively impacted others and/or ourselves.
Since it has already been too long since I have posted, I thought I would post my first “Great Story” to show what I’ve been thinking about as a recent college grad in America. So, here goes:
The Most Natural Progression in the World–OR–Growing Up and Otherwise
Seven months ago I graduated from a small liberal arts college in up-state New York. The day was cloudy, but lovely in the way that it shielded our faces from the eager sunbeams of early summer. It was a most natural moment in my life and yet unreal. I had grown up with the expectation of going to and completing college, but I could not help remembering so many worried late nights and hurried papers that often left me wondering if I could really make it. So, suddenly I found myself sitting on a pretty green hill being told of my fortune and warned of my fears. Relief lasted long enough for me to realize halfway through a lavish lunch that I was undoubtedly lucky and unavoidably lost, standing at my first ever wide-open door.
The desire to do some good while taking some time to consider my different options after college led me to work through Project YES! and the Northwestern University Settlement House at a young charter elementary school. Just over three months ago I was welcomed into the Drama enrichment classroom at Rowe Elementary School and I quickly learned the priority of teaching good behavior over all else. My mediocre background in theater mattered much less than my sense of rudimentary ethics and a willingness to pass it on with assurance. At first, it seemed so strange to go immediately from studying to insisting on certain social values. But after a few days of sitting on a big blue rug beside five and six year-olds, I realized I was exactly where I needed to be; the first grade.
Soon I was dreaming that I had lost a tooth. In my mind, I was just as old as I should be, but the tooth came loose slowly and I wiggled it back and forth curiously. Not by force or accident, I was remembering a sensation somehow familiar though distant.
The students remind me every day of the difficulty of figuring out how to grow up and otherwise. But somehow by assuring them, I am able to assure myself; it just takes time and sometimes somebody to help.