As the new year has set in, I cannot help but think where I was exactly a year ago.... Literally in a different world. I would have never DREAMED I would be sitting in Chicago, on a Friday morning enjoying a latte after a busy 3 days of circle training. 2011 was a year of ehhhhh confusion and roller coasters. This time last year, I was gearing up for my last semester of college, plowing through all nighters to finish nasty capstone papers, getting myself out of stupid trouble and making memories with best friends I was blessed with in college. I miss those people every day. During that last semester I was stressing about my summer and year to come. Was I going to be out of the country for two years? It was a waiting period that drove me caaarazy! Slowly but surely I accepted a sweet internship with Youth Volunteer Corps as a summer coordinator working with youth and volunteering at various non-profits throughout Kansas City. Then the possibility of being a full time volunteer with Precious Blood Volunteers became real and eventually I made my way to the Windy City! As I have always had this itch to live in the city of Chicago I made it! I got out of Kearney, Mo! I was on my own adventure to Chicago! As much as I thought everything would be awesome, I didn't prepare myself for the past months. At all..... but how could I? And from there my blog begins at the beginning, no need for me to repeat myself ;) As I sit and reflect how the past has impacted where I am today, I don't regret anything. I am so happy for where I am now..... Cheers to 2012 and the possibilities in the future... wherever that will take me!
So, a little catch up/rewind. The past three days our center held a circle training for youth from our local neighborhood public schools. I was one of the, "circle keepers." (Actually I didn't have to many responsibilities.... which is good because I got a refresher and picked up so much more this time around.) The ultimate goal of this idea was to give power and knowledge to these youth, the knowledge of circles. By training them we hope that they take circles back to their schools. Just thinking of the possibilities of how they can use these techniques in their school could be HUGE!
Reminder: Circles can be used for an array of things. You could have a circle to honor someone, confront a family problem, conflict/resolution, (I'm totally blanking on the right word) crime resolution ect. The possibilities are truly endless. Circles give everyone a chance to share what they are, what they are thinking, it gives someone a voice in an environment in which they feel safe to share in. (Again I could go on so much longer on what circles are and do.... call me, I'm not going to bore you with jib jabberin on here about it. Lets get to the good stuff.)
As the last day came, we asked that the kids group off and create a circle in which they could actually take back to their school. What would the problem be, what questions would be asked, ect. So..... time OUT... ask yourself what kind of problems you had in high school.... ummmm mayyyyybe bullying, not getting enough playing time on the field in your sport of choice, bad lunch room food blah blah blah. Here were their problems/questions/thoughts and comments on questions: I wouldn't send my child to that school because its to dangerous, people pull the fire alarm to start a fight in the hallways, if you get through the hallway without getting yelled at/confronted its a miracle, the security guards are gang banging sometimes, the security guards are no help, there aren't enough security guards, just because there is a metal detector doesn't mean there aren't any weapons in the school (hellooo combination lock with a shoe lace tied to it... ouch), kids getting on the bus, kids getting off the bus to violence because a certain bus stop = a certain "gang stop," sometimes there is peace in the school, but the minute you walk out the door of the school, kids turn on each other because they are in different gangs. I could go on..... but I won't. The point I guess I am trying to get to is not, they have so much more to worry about at their age than I ever did when I was their age (which is true), but the point is, they have no escape. THAT is there life, THAT is there education. How do you put a stop to any of those things. One person shared that even 5 years ago, gangs were just like clubs, people were just a part of them... it wasn't as bad as it is now. I mean yeah back 5 years people were killed ect. But NOW, everything is worse, people are more desperate and way more violent.
The training taught me a lot, and got me to think about things on a different level. As these kids got more comfortable and shared more, I was able to listen and learn from them. I was able to see their struggles, make a picture, see the looks on their faces when describing a scary run in with gang members, just because they were laughing while they were talking, they stared at the floor the whole time, trying not to make eye contact with anyone. 18 years old. I could sit here and feel sorry for the youth, but that's just a waste of time. By meeting and listening to the 12 youth who made it to the training, it gives me hope. Just with these 12 I saw courage and strength. I saw hope. There are kids out there who are looking for a way out, are even making there way out. But have a hard time completely getting out, because they care and want to help those they are leaving behind. By giving them the tool of, "Circle training," just maybe, they will use it, they will call back to our center and ask us for help or tell us about a successful circle? The possibilities are endless and I love that feeling.
The past three days have been an eye opener and closure for me all at the same time. Instead of living two lives, like I felt I was for the past while, with that gap slowly closing to make it one, the past three days may have just closed it indefinitely. I feel as if all is one. My experience here is definitely one of a kind, but its mine. As my two lives have finally become one, I can move forward a lot stronger. Just like the kiddos and their possibilities being endless..... so are mine.
So.... here's to 2012; taking chances, speaking out a little bit more and making a difference (oh and actually maybe exercising a bit more haha) Bring it on 2012.....