where are we going...

it's been so long since i have written...anything. it's not for lack of things to write about...more for contentment, contempt, and all things in between. the struggle of daily life sometimes seems so full that i tend to forget that right down the street from me is a beautiful beach that will quickly put all things back into perspective. as it did today...
so i write. right.
the past few months have come with struggle. a new term began at the court diversion program and with it some difficulties that have still not smoothed themselves out. we have some of the same kids that have returned and some new that have arrived. it is definitely the case that 3 months away from the structure of the program undid some of what was done...but interestingly most of the returning kids seem to have bounced back or are working on bouncing back. i am seeing more hurt and pain and suffering in the kids this time around. i don't know if it's because i know them better, because i am leading my own classes, or because they truly are suffering more now than then. either way it's proving to be a bit more challenging and with that comes uncertainty of self and on most days a distinct wondering if i know what i am doing. so i guess i too have come a little undone from the summer.
the books are supposed to arrive this week and probably one of the most profound experiences i have had thus far is teaching a couple of boys how to read. it's tangible so i can chart progress and feel like i can see some of the good i am doing. so i am clearly really excited for some reading material to come in to make that adventure a little more interesting. the rest of the work that i am doing is intangible counseling work which never really seems to be taking much form and leaves me reminding myself daily that i may never see the fruits of that labor. but i try. and that's really all i can do. there are so many barriers in working with these kids and trying to get them to go deep into themselves. the largest of which is they do not live in a society that promotes free, constructive, critical thought so it's kind of like pulling a rabbit out of hat. it's frustrating and difficult but i keep trying.
i am constantly trying to come up with new ideas to bring discussion and critical thought into the classroom. recently i showed a video of sean corne, an amazing yoga teacher, giving a speech at occupy wall street. with kids who feel that fighting and violence are the only way to ever handle anything, i wanted to show them another option. and a huge one. it was so fascinating the variety of responses i got. the group of suspended school kids seemed to hold the least amount of ability to think or speak critically and were more interested in making fun of the asian woman in the audience or pointing out that there were black people there which made no sense to them. they couldn't grasp the concept of peaceful protesting and shared with me that it makes more sense to just attack or bomb people to deal with the issues that come up. when prompted why they felt this way they shared with me that all they know is violence...that's how people handle things in their world and that's all they have ever known. sad.
when i brought the video to the group of boys that are our kids...regulars who are committed to the program...it was an incredibly different discussion. they watched in awe of the size of new york city and the variety of people that were there. and then we had another discussion regarding how something like that would never happen here because all people do here is fight each other down. they will not join with their brother to lift him up because they are too concerned with lifting themselves up. they shared that the only way this would ever change is if people started to unite and work together to create jobs and change the country for the better. from the mouths of babes.
profoundly different conversations and experiences which impressed on me how deeply and quickly those kids have to grow up. they are forced to see the world through adult eyes from a young age. they are wise to the ways of the world and are so astutely observant of what is going on around them at all times. and no one listens. no one gives them a voice to speak out or speak up. so they fight. they struggle to find ways to be heard and seen by all those who are leaving them behind. and the truth is they are the future. and they have the ideas. but if they continue to be stifled it might be too late when someone is finally ready to listen.