Thursday, May 31, 2007

In my ideal world...

I think if I would've known more about the Peace Corps when I was in college, I probably would have joined up.

After college, while living in Boston, I was exposed to City Year, a city-wide version of Americorps. I could barely afford to live in Boston...and I wasn't there for City Year never became a possibility for me. But I loved getting on the train and seeing all of the khaki pants and red jackets that branded City Year members at every turn. I loved participating in City Year's Serve-a-thon right before I moved.

Throughout my years at Central Dallas, we have had Americorps members here and there. This year, Central Dallas wrote its own grant to obtain hundreds of CDM Americorps members and partner with many other non-profit organizations to place members throughout the city in service positions.

This week, I have had the opportunity to help train not only our CDM Americorps members, but also Project Transformation's Americorps members. I was so impressed and amazed at the diversity of both groups!

I had been assigned to facilitate a portion of our Urban Experience. My goal was to challenge the group to think about their words, actions, and attitudes and how those things impact others...before they begin their summer of working in urban communities all across the city.

The most exciting part of the training was the opportunity to engage a group of diverse people in conversation. How often is it that Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, rich, poor, private school, public school, gay, and straight people really talk to each other? How often do we really seek out the opinions of people who may be different than us?

Not often enough, in my opinion. It can get uncomfortable.

By the end of each day I was exhausted, but energized. Several continued their conversation with me, as well as with each other, after my session was over.

I was impressed with their critical thinking and challenging questions and statements (to me and to each other). Their willingness to listen to and learn from each other gave me hope.

In my ideal world these conversations and seeking understanding without judgment...with people unlike ourselves...will continue.
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