An enjoyable summer, but now it's time to get back to work
After almost three months of putting my side career of journalism in hiatus I recently received an email from a good friend to return to the news industry as a guest columnist and I couldn’t refuse to work for such a great boss. Summer has brought many good and new things such as a job in a Texas State program as an algebra mentor for incoming freshman at San Marcos High School, a great trip to San Francisco and a switch to a new newspaper. It’s hard to believe that the two months of this unbearably hot summer is coming to an end and it’s time for most kids my age to head back to the dorms and most kids younger than me to return to high school, junior high, etc.
Working as a mentor was an experience that was unlike any other. The Caminos Leadership Program required me not only to be a mentor in Algebra but also to be a friend, therapist, counselor, medic, babysitter and even a bodyguard during the last week of the program. What “Caminos” is about is providing scholastically at-risk 8th grade students with an opportunity to broaden their leadership skills, academic capacity in Algebra, English and Technology and earn high school credits in all three areas. As I underwent mentor training, I was told that my kids weren’t just going having a hard time with the academic material but they come from troubling situations. The training basically prepared me on how to deal and what to say in response to what the kids might say to us in confidence. The six mentors including myself eventually had kids confess to us what their problems were at home and I have to say that it was some of the saddest things I’ve heard in my life. There was one specific moment that I will probably remember as long as I live. Each mentor has their own “family” group usually about 8 to 10 students and we take them to a private place to talk about how to deal with anger, goals and anything else the leadership instructor told the mentors to discuss. The kids agreed to go to a classroom to be away from all of the other groups in the hallway so we could talk about anger in private. When it was a student’s turn to talk his eyes had already begun to turn red and I was surprised because that student in particular was never one to show emotion or vulnerability to others. He began to talk about how he dealt with his anger when he saw his father physically abuse his mother in front of him. He was young and felt helpless as he was hiding in his room trying to pretend that everything was okay. After he finished talking and I began to respond to his situation and all of my students began to have teary eyes and some where even crying. That student had opened the flood gate of trust and after that all of the students began to tell their issues from home and how they dealt with their anger. One the last day, after six weeks, with my students, especially my “family” group, I felt like I had gained around twenty or thirty new nieces and nephews and they promised me they would keep in contact and I promised the same. I hope I’m able to return as a mentor in the Caminos Program next summer.
Whenever I’m on a plane I usually make friends with the people I sit next to since I usually travel alone. When I started talking to the girl next to me about where I was from, the first thing she mentioned about Texas was the heat. I mentioned how I thought California wasn’t going to be as hot as Texas so I wasn’t worried about the California heat and she started to laugh at me. She told me it was actually cold in San Francisco and I was shocked and slightly angry. I told her I had only packed t-shirts and shorts and she laughed once more and recommended a mall near the hotel I was going to stay at. Despite having to buy some new pants and a jacket, San Francisco was actually pretty cool. My friends and I got to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods National Park, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Warf, Coit Tower, Lombard Street, the Painted Ladies, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the DeYoung Museum and even got to see “Wicked” the musical at the Orpheum Theatre and eat dinner on a cliff facing the Pacific Ocean beforehand.
Since I only have a few more days left before I move back to San Marcos I’m trying my best to act like a 13 year old and watch television all day instead of reading my textbooks for the fall semester.
I’m glad I had a good summer but I think I’m ready to return to school and take another step towards my accounting career. Hopefully this year will be as great as the last so I can write more columns for the Gonzales Cannon.