For my first blog entry on Waking Awareness, I’d like to share some snapshots into my life over the past week. I interact with close to 450 students each week through teaching FutureProfits classes at local high schools. Often because of busy schedules I only get to develop relationships with a few students each semester, but the ones I do relate with impact me significantly. Here are a few of their stories....
Johnny*: Last week, I was teaching a class right before lunchtime. Generally, as soon as the bell rings, most students rush out to soak up as much time with their friends during lunch, but on this particular day, Johnny didn't get up from his seat. I took it as a cue to walk over and talk to him. I sat down and started making small talk, which quickly led to a deeper conversation. Johnny started sharing with me about his struggles with school, his struggle to pay attention in classes that weren’t interesting to him, and not being able to trust his friends. He expressed feelings of loneliness that came with not being able to trust anyone due to betrayal in his past. I was reminded in that moment, that behind the mask a lot of high school students wear, there is often a much deeper story.
Jose*: The next day, I saw Jose, a boy who lives around the corner from me. He was in one of our FutureProfits classes 2 years ago as an 8th grader. Again, I initiated a conversation that led to Jose sharing about his loneliness as well! He shared that he has a lot of friends, but still feels lonely and doesn’t feel like he belongs. I remembered my conversation with Johnny and wondered if there was a pattern happening in the lives of young men.
Marie & Claire*: During this current unit of FutureProfits, we are teaching the students how to make a budget by giving each of them a job and asking them to pretend they are 25 years old. This past Tuesday, Marie and Claire were sitting at the back of the class discussing what their imaginary life will be like when they are 25. As I listened to their conversation, I discovered that they had decided to live as roommates in a 2-bedroom apartment. I walked around listening to the other conversations, but wandered back to listen to Marie and Claire. As they got further down the list of expenses in their budgets they hit the “pet” line item. Marie was set on having a small dog. Claire was not. After much discussion, during the rest of the class, they had still not come to an agreement about the pet, but it was clear they still wanted to live with each other. It may be a small exercise, but these two girls are learning a lot about compromise and needs vs. wants.
Something 2 Eat: Thursday of this past week, I walked around the Menlo-Atherton campus with two girls from my FutureProfits class as they asked anyone and everyone to donate to our Something 2 Eat campaign. The generosity of the students was amazing, and the two girls raised $43.13 for the campaign in under an hour. In light of Something 2 Eat, I have seen so much generosity erupt from these students as they plan and discuss ways to bring necessary food to those who don’t have it. To find out more about their generosity and this student-led campaign, please check this blog later this week for an update.
These are just four snapshots of life interacting with students from this generation. They are generous, lonely, struggling to live life, and learning from activities and each other. Through our classes they are learning practical skills for their future. But through our relationships, they are impacting my life in deep ways.
FutureProfits Program Manager
*The names mentioned above are fictitious