Like most, I entered 2020 bright eyed and bushy tailed, (whatever that means). I had set my goals and resolutions and was ready for whatever the year had in store for me. But, I don’t think anybody could have predicted all that was to unfold over the last 12 months.
As many of us were forced to spend our time constrained to our homes we saw disheartening news stories plastered on our tv screens. But for every example of something bad, there were many more stories of people stepping up in courage and selflessness that oftentimes went unreported.I know this is cliche, but the worst of times really can bring out the best in people.
We can all agree that 2020 has been an interesting year to say the least. In February, we were all going about our daily business as usual. UKSD KidzPlay4Free Futsal programming had just finished, we had recently implemented our new Girls4Girls and MEN-torship programming into local schools to help develop peer to peer mentoring opportunities, and we had been creating new ways for high school aged youth leaders assist their younger peers. We had even just hosted a group of teens from Moldova to help educate our community about different cultures, among many other UKSD community service initiatives and projects to better the world. Our sights were set on preparing for the spring and kicking off our street soccer KP4FP (our favorite program of the year), organizing our annual food donation tournament, and getting ready to take 13 youth leaders from the BHS girl’s soccer team for another epic adventure to our favorite little Caribbean island, Dominica.
It has taken me a few days to try and put the words together to reach out to you. I have drafted and re-drafted what I’ve wanted to say because emotions can often cloud the intention of words. I’ve spent the last few days thinking about all of you. Thinking of the students I had in my very first year of teaching when I had no idea what I was doing, the students I grew with and learned with over the years, and the students I have now. I’ve thought about our conversations and debates. I’ve thought about the tears some of us cried together in sadness and mourning and of the times you made me laugh so hard that another type of tear touched my face. I’ve thought about what it means to be a teacher and how so much of what I want is for you to be safe. To be safe when you’re sitting in my classroom and to be safe when we are no longer together.
This spring has brought about a great deal of change for the UKSD family. When we normally would have been embarking on our yearly trip to Dominica, we had to postpone our travel plans not only for the safety of our participants but also for our friends on the island. Along with this is, there has been a shift in the way that we are able to interact with the kids we work with, as we are all social distancing to do our part to keep our community safe. Something we have always tried to teach here at UKSD is the importance of being a leader. The greatest leaders in the world have often come from their ability to find light in the darkest situations. Our youth leaders have fostered this belief for a long time and are now setting it into motion.
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