Beefin, curve, sprung, and fly are just some of the many words I’ve learned this year during our teen time class at the Low Income Housing Institute’s Meadowbrook View Apartments. It’s pretty funny really. I didn’t have the slightest clue what these words meant until I started ‘hangin’ with the teens. And if you’re as clueless as I was, just check out urbandictionary.com.
Teen Time was a special request from the teenagers themselves. They wanted some time away from the younger kids to chill and talk about things that concerned them. Quite frankly, Lynn, Darnesha, and I also used this time as a way to keep an eye on them so as to steer them away from any trouble.
We encouraged them to speak their mind and ask questions. We honored freedom of speech and made a pact of confidentiality (unless it was something that could potentially harm them or someone else) and at their request, we spoke with frankness ourselves. To make it fun, we added a family style dinner twice a month where we would cook, set the table, give thanks, eat and converse without the distractions of facebook, texting, and TV.
It was a hit the first month or so as our group maintained about seven teenagers. It was awesome watching the youth take on responsibility and enjoy being together—but soon the interest started to dwindle. They had more important things to do and a series of unfortunate events rattling our community made things worse. In the end, only two teenagers remained. Two young ladies that stuck it out and really, really, REALLY wanted to be there.
I have to admit, it was discouraging to be in a near empty classroom. Once again, I felt like a failure, totally uncool, and wondering what the hell I’d been doing all this time—but these two girls demonstrated willingness, dedication, and a yearning to learn.
While it was sad that we’d lost some of the other teens, it worked out just dandy. We shared some interesting and in-depth conversations about life, relationships, music, family, friends, and more. Don’t worry, we had some good laughs too, sometimes we just played games and listened to music.
Every conversation was a teachable moment.
Heck, their chicken tacos were darn good too!
More importantly, they learned about positive communication, mastering their socialization skills and growing as young adults.
This was supposed to be a music class, but it transformed into something else. The girls felt cherished and understood and that’s a good thing.
And so, here we are–two years of an extraordinary adventure has come to end. I may never see these kids again, but all I can say is that they’ve taught me to listen with an open heart, temper my words, and meet them at their level. They’ve taken me on crazy roller coaster ride into a new world of teaching…just when I thought I was done with that world. For that I am grateful.
Thank you ArtsCorps.
Thank you Meadowbrook.
Thank you teens.