A day’s worth of challenges

Note: I’m typing this on a new keyboard, since my old one decided to begin randomly sticking and missing the “e” (yanno, just the most popular letter in the English language). So I dropped $10 at the local Chinese Children’s Slavery Discount Outlet, and it’s going to take me a few to get used to the feel and such. Bear with if you see typos. (In typing this, I’m seeing an unsettling trend to skip and otherwise jumble letters – it may be due to a scan I’m running slowing down the transmission. We’ll see. Otherwise, it’s back to the store with it, and no dessert for those Chinese kids, either. I’m gonna save and finish updating later.) Update: seems to be working fine now, so it must have been the scan. Guess the kiddies can go ahead and have some pie.

Anyway, Friday was basically a series of challenges, in one form or another. First of all, during our morning meeting, we watched a tape of a recent Oprah, in which Lisa Ling documented a group who did something called a “Challenge Day” at a high school – basically, a bunch of team building and communication exercises that resulted in bringing the student body together in ways no one thought possible. It involved a lot of opening up between students who didn’t even know each other, and exercises like “Cross the line if you’ve ever (insert problem or action here)” to show students that they weren’t alone. Combine that with supportive infrastructure (like flashing the “I love you” sign to show quiet support to someone who’s speaking or having issues, etc) and it was quite an adventure. You can learn more about it at the Challenge Day site, and on Oprah here and here.

Then, in the afternoon, we took the homework club kids for a field trip to the Health Adventure activity center for a lecture in nutrition and an hour of playing around in the exhibits, and they all behaved really, really well. Whew! We were somewhat apprehensive about how they were going to behave, but we couldn’t have asked for better behavior if we’d put a grant proposal in for it. Of course, it didn’t hurt that pretty much only our best behaved kids showed up to go, but still. We even took them over to the BB&T building, where the program director had some friends, so we could look out of the windows over the entire Asheville downtown area. Quite a view, and they were very impressed, as were the grownups. And they even managed not to disrupt the office staff (although we did have to do a bit of cajoling to get them to quit playing with the revolving door so we could get back to the van, and let the incoming folks in).

Afterward, Sarah and I (along with a colleague who lives in the development) did a walk-around to stump for volunteers, which had been a big challenge for us to find a time during which we had the availability to do it, when the weather was cooperating and also when we could get over our innate shyness and lack of familiarity with the community and just get out there and get it done. Having our “local connection” colleague with us was a big help in the last part, and the early ending day and great weather solved the first two issues, so “wooohooo!” it’s done. We got a few positive responses, too, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. We’ve pretty much been assured that if we can just get one or two community members in there, word of mouth will have us overrun with volunteers before we know it. I hope so, but don’t want to rely on it, so I’ll be working on other avenues just the same. Still, it’d be nice to have some community buy-in. It helps keep that grant money coming in. 😀

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