Thursday, July 9, 2009
My first three days on the job were very special as they coincided with an annual visit from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. For 11 years now, Dr. Tom Holub, an Associate Professor in Education, has brought a contingent of his graduate students to Cabrini Connections for an immersion experience. Dr. Holub supervises the experience and its focus is aimed at helping youth discover a personal future. In line with our vision, Dr. Holub's cheif concern is that young people are on a career track of their own choice by age 25.
Throughout their three-day visit, the graduate students (all studying Special Education) led personal and educational enrichment activities for up to 12 kids from our program. Their first activity asked our youth to consider their ABCs: aspirations, barriers, and capacities. Another asked them to consider self-image by creating pictures of themselves using magazine clippings.
The latter part of the first two days also included trips into the city. Therefore, in addition to participating in numerous educational activities on-site, I also found myself chaperoning trips to Navy Pier and the Museum of Contemporary Art and a scavenger hunt in downtown Chicago. Much fun was had by all.
However, the greatest payoff for me was the opportunity to meet some of the students in our program. They are all great spirits who appreciate what Cabrini Connections has to offer and they each showcased a full range of personality: from funny to serious to thoughtful to tired (we all were by day's end!). In one-on-one conversations and group work, I found their insights to be very astute and honest. I was impressed by their willingness to share with me and the Edgewood volunteers, all of whom are new faces in their lives.
Though this was just a sampling of the more than 70 students who participate in our program, its benefits were clear to me in them. We were even able to recruit two new students who came with friends. Both of them must have felt the same level of respect as a newcomer that I did. I look forward to working with them and everyone else involved with Cabrini Connections in the year to come.