Last weekend marked the culmination of all the hard work on behalf of the Parent and Community Services Branch to put on LAUSD's Family Summit -- a day-long conference alllll about college-readiness.
Although I dreaded this event, leading up to the actual day, this is my thing. I love talking to kids about their dreams, encouraging them to achieve beyond their wildest imaginings, letting them know that nothing is impossible. It's getting kids to think like kids -- to put away the stressors that are unloaded upon them by their parents, their siblings, their friends -- and to dream as big as they possibly can, without any regard to realism. I think like that, to this day, and I love to share the natural optimism I was born with, an outlook of the possible.
At the Family Summit, I was lucky enough to be placed with parents from my own school. We acted as their guide, shuffling them from one area to another, and we even gave them a tour of the school (that we never attended, mind). This was all pretty nuts and bolts, utilizing very little of our autonomy or intelligence. We were the very warm bodies they so desperately needed as volunteers.
But then parents started to ask me about my college experience. A conversation with one of the mommies really touched me.
Mommy: Here's the thing about your people. [She meant "white people."] They pay to send their children to college. My people, they say "we can't afford to send you to school, you cannot go."
I explained to her that my experience was so very different from "my [typical] people." My parents didn't pay for my schooling, and as such, I was invested in my education. I had to get good grades because if I didn't, I would have lost my scholarship. I worked lots of different jobs and built quite the resume.
The Mommy was impressed. Then I found out that her 7th-grade daughter was with her, and she desperately wanted to go to the University of Arizona! I was so surprised and excited to share with her all that I knew about it. She wanted to study veterinary sciences and she loved horses, so I told her how UA has a major in equine sciences and that other students could take the classes, if they wanted.
We talked for such a long time about this stuff, and I really felt like I had made a difference. I really showed this kid how important it was to work hard and do well. I helped a mom understand that her financial status should have no bearing on her child's success in life. These are things I believe at the very core of my being and I loved being able to share it!