Every four months we’re required as volunteers to complete a Volunteer Report Form (VRF). It’s something most of us loathe to do, for a number of reasons which I won’t go into because your time is valuable and the exchange rate isn’t in your favor. One part of it asks you to share a success story. I always end up leaving this blank, not becuase of a lack of success (though in practice I often wonder) but more so because I try to leave it to the last possible moment and consider the whole thing a bit contrived at capturing what effects we actually have. I’m not sure what struck me today as I filled my third one out for the year, but I finally wrote in that section. Shannon said I should post it because I need to keep my prolific posting streak up. Here it is.
It had been a rough 6 months at my primary assignment, Marion House. Working with teens++ (actually 31 yrs was our oldest student) had never been a desire of mine, yet there I was day in and day out leading sessions on everything from condoms and safer sex practices to character education and current events — even genocide. I had never lesson planned before, never really taught on a day to day basis before, never counseled teen issues and behaviour, but for the past months I had been in the thick of it. On top of that, these were the kids that the formal system had left behind or at least not let thrive.
It was now June and we were in our last month of in-house training. There were times during the past 6 months where I was burning out from the daily grind, from the lack of organization of the programme (thus necessitating weekly emergencies on my part), and so on. But here it was, the end of the tunnel. They were all about to be spit out into their training attachments and I was exhausted and ready to be rid of them.
Now as I write this it’s two months later and they’re all (well almost of them anyway) off working in their skills attachments, learning trades of all sorts each day. Some are plumbing while others are tour guiding. Some are installing electrical junction boxes in the new Library (I hope they have a fire supressant system) and others are learning how to make a mean cocktail. A number of them I knew would have no trouble succeeding. They’d performed well and cared for most of the in house bit, but the thing that washes all that stress from those months of grinding is the outcomes of some of the students that probably for the first time in their life are succeeding in a positive venture. Those few that frustrated me nearly every single day – whom I battled with over behaviour, attendance; dress, on and on ad nauseum. They’re succeeding… and what a wonderful feeling it is to know that.