I had wanted to write this blog for a while now, just never got around to doing it. When I drive, I get my inspirations of what I want to write about. My blogs are a touch of what I’m thinking or current events to remember. Tonight is more of an insight of where and how I’ve come to be the person that I am and how it has effected the way I relate to people.
In my early 20’s, I volunteered at an innercity non-profit organization after school program. This particular city was once voted as “the most dangerous city in America” due to drugs, killings and overall environment. However; that did not phase me once I started being there. I worked in the soup kitchen during Christmas, helped out with homework, answered phones and basically just be with the kids. There were other volunteers there (sometimes college students and adults). I got to know the kids and saw them grow. I worked mainly with kids, but I’d also interact with the teens as well. One of my most memorable times was when I was the 4th grade drama teacher. I had fun directing the girls in the play and they certainly were “lively”, but teachable. A few years ago, I found out that one of the girls I had in my drama class had been shot and killed walking the streets. I know exactly who she was because she was so happy and energetic, she caught my eye and would help me get everybody’s attention when I couldn’t. She will always be missed.
What I’m trying to say is that, despite these living conditions of kids that grow up in this environment, all they want and need is someone to direct them to the right path. These kids are raised hearing gunshots during the night, watching drug deals go on, yelling and screaming by neighbors and losing friends. They may seem tough when you first meet them and they will test you to see if you will respect them. Believe me, I’ve gone through this initiation. Almost all of them have told me, “To get respect, you need to give respect” and it rings true even today. Once you get to know them, they are some of the sweetest kids around who really just want a hug or to hear an encouraging word. I thought the title of the movie was perfect.
Recently, I went to a reunion where I saw some of my 4th grade girls who I had taught many years ago. They had all grown up and they had babies of their own! It was interesting to hear that some of them were in college and others were still trying to better their lives.
I chose this particular scene of the movie “Dangerous Minds” as I thought it was the most realistic. There were some scenes which were a little “over the top” and not like the real world, but the majority of the movie was on point. This movie was inspired by LouAnne Johnson’s book about her experience at a High School in California mostly made up of African-Americans and Hispanics.