it's in the strangest of places you get shown the light...

it's a new year. a new you. an entirely new chance to dive in, think deeper, work harder, grow faster, play longer. i know with every ounce of my soul that 2012 is going to be a year to remember. a year of firsts, of lasts, and everything in between. my first day back at work this year started off in a rather phenomenal way. we are currently in the process of re-directing our program and doing a huge recruitment drive at the same time. we have been having meeting after meeting to secure the arts as well as walk after walk to secure the participants. our focus at the cdp is performing arts but until now has only consisted of one 'performing arts' class twice a week. with a little cooperation and motivation we are now seeking to add dance and music and theater to the table. we have begun networking and building inside our own community and outside to the community at large in order to create a program that will not only touch the lives of the kids that we affect but hopefully the lives of all they come in contact with. and we are doing so at the grassroots level. in every sense of the word.
let me take a step back. on thursday we went on a recruitment drive to marchand. marchand is a community in st lucia that has a number of nooks and crannies. it resides in the castries basin and is home to a lot of kids sitting 'on the block' with nothing to do all day but smoke herb and contemplate the fact that there is nothing to do. we went as a posse. as the cdp posse. 7 deep rolling through the ghettos looking for kids to recruit into a program that may, if nothing else, give them something to do other that sit around wondering. while we wandered and were looked upon i began to wonder if this was really the best approach. as we went to each set of guys, and girls, on the block it became more and more apparent that our program which exists for youth ages 12-19 would not suffice their 20+ souls....yet in the midst of that realization came another. as they discussed with us their perils, the needs of these guys began to shine. they began to express their desire to read,  to work, to lead...and their distress at the lack of opportunities to do so. the deeper we got into each concrete jungle the deeper my impression became of the other side of st lucia. the side that doesn't have a voice. the side that is discounted and turned away.
as we walked through an area known as jerusalem, with it's babbling creek and incredible personality, i realized how deprived we are of seeing the essence and truth of life. on the day to day we walk through the world having and wanting. yet if you stop, even for a second, you will see the balance and strength of humanity. around every corner in these ghettos was someone with an idea, with an inspiration, with more sense than most of those i hear on a daily basis. and they are 'locked away' in their ghetto, never leaving to be exposed to the 'greater world' but holding so much beauty and truth and space on their own it's no wonder they never leave. don't get me wrong....i also had my own realization of the other side of st lucia that is starved of resources and attention. but that starvation breeds creativity. it breeds ingenuity. it breeds survival in it's most primal and essential form.
and so i return to the cdp. here we have a group of kids who stretch out from these same environments and exude creativity. many of them academically challenged will dwarf the greatest masters in creativity. because it is their essence. it is the vein of their survival. and so this new term in our program will hopefully allow these kids to recognize their essence in it's purest form and speak their truth from a place in which it has never been supported so much as to flourish. it's disappointing that people always look at those with less as deprived because they cannot "have" when their not having allows them to be so connected to what is that they have nothing else to do but be. as is.
it is only at the end of what will soon be my first year here in st lucia and in the peace corps that i begin to truly see what i have always felt. you can strip away all the possessions and the truth of the individual will come out. the "ghettos" are the breeding ground for humanity. they are the place where the human spirit truly thrives and survives. these are the places where the artist is born.