I’m finding that the time I spend volunteering with my inner-city charter school kids is an education for me. I’m there to help them, but they are helping me.
I am learning about what it’s like to be taunted by the kids in your neighborhood because you like school. I’m learning about how distracting it is when your parents fight all the time. I’m hearing about their long commutes and the effort they put in to attend a school that they believe will offer them more opportunities.
I’m hearing that they’re worried about leaving home this summer to attend a three-week enrichment program at a college a few hundred miles away. “But, I’ve never been away from my mother,” said one. And how one family can’t come up with the $100 deposit even though they will get it refunded.
The students tell me they will not apply to schools in Florida because they’ve heard Florida is racist. One described feeling uncomfortable at Disneyworld, not because of staff, but because of the other visitors’ behavior toward them.
I am learning about struggles that neither I nor my children had to face. And I am loving these kids who find the energy and determination to succeed when the odds are not in their favor.