Thursday, November 04, 2010

One Kid at a Time


Photo credit: Aussi gall

I was feeling discouraged today. Sometimes when you work with kids, it feels like two steps forwards, three steps back. The issues that we deal with; self esteem, media messages, bullying, and more just take your breath away sometimes.

On a particular day, I was feeling discouraged when I entered class and plopped down beside a lovely 16 year old pecking away at the keyboard of a laptop. I glanced over and noticed she was googling Me to We.

"OH! I saw the show on the plane when I went to Blissdom! It was really good. REALLY inspiring."

She grinned back at me, then turned back to the site, puzzled.

"I want to go to Africa," she explained. "You know, there's a lot of soccer equipment that we use and say it's old, so we get new stuff. It's not old to them. I want to take soccer equipment to Africa and give it to kids."

I sat there for a minute, digesting this news. This beautiful, smart, talented almost woman wanted to change the world, but I could see she didn't know where to start. Who would listen to a 16 year old? As I watched her, brow furrowed, clicking here and there, I had an idea.

"Wait. You want social change? I'll give you social change. Let's get to it, hon. First let me introduce you to Twitter," (I tweeted @worldvisioncan) "and while we're at it, let's ask @herbadmother, because she's been to Africa and may know someone to help you. Why not also follow @me2we, and they might help you out. I think with the site...there it is, you can get scholarships to send you to Kenya, you just need to fill it out. Oh! And look! World Vision tweeted back. So did @herbadmother."

She sat there, mouth open in shock. "How did you.....what...?"

I sheepishly returned her grin. "All that time on Twitter has to be good for something. It's really about you knowing someone, and honey....I know a lot of people. If I can help get you to Africa, then let's go for it."

Back to our laptops, we excitedly read blurbs from the Me to We site about teenagers traveling to different countries to build schools, work on community water projects, and more. I could see her eyes shining as she saw that her dream wasn't so impossible; it is completely within reach if she works hard.

As we giggled, another student walked by and paused as they looked at our screens.

"What the heck are you doing?" At the words, inwardly I cringed. Would she have the guts to face the peer pressure, which is all about being thin, following the crowd, and conforming? Or is this desire bigger than that?

She looked up, her blue eyes shining with hope, unspoken dreams of doing something far greater than anyone has ever expected and her voice rang with confidence.

"Changing the WORLD, Baby."

That's right, hon. Change the world.

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