What keeps you up at night.

Okay so I know. It is 12:58 and your’re going to say it. I never sleep. Hear me out.

I do, sometimes. But as of late, it is important, despite the layer upon layer of backlogged posts, topics to talk about, and more that keep piling up, amid the heavy heavy loads that pile up around us and sometimes the tasks and chores we take on, some we do not – but there is always some beams of light that we HAVE to stop and take notice to realize there are some magical things happening every minute, and if we do not stop ourselves to take them in, we will miss so much due to the work we have created for ourselves, and for the work we have allowed to take up so much of our lives. It is also important to let you see inside some of the moments that you might not know exist.

Many of you know, or might know, I am passionate about librarians and libraries, but the moments I have witnessed in those very places that have launched some of the most amazing young people to places they never knew they could go- those places are worth fighting for and the people to make them possible. Here are two examples worth telling, this is what keeps me up at night 🙂

First, over the course of six weeks, as you know, I am involved in a program called Upward Bound – and I have to share a secret with you. when you say you are going to go on several trips, let alone a three night trip over the summer, with teenagers, during summer break, the usual eye rolls, sighs, and “God Bless You!” are emitted, and I have to be 100% truthful, I was not sure I really made the right decision over the summer.

I DID. It is easy to look at this whole scenario of working and spending time with those younger than I as a service to them, as a job, as a duty, as an obligation. Yet, the summer was not any of those in the least. Each one of the Upward Bound students, there is no differentiation between programs when they are together, and they are a force to be reckoned with. What many fail to realize, is they gave up their summer, and also the very very hard work they put in to climb to heights that many take for granted every day, outside of summer and during the regular year. Every day. Every week. Every weekend. Every summer. The moments we spent at colleges, in classes, in labs, on site at work study locations, and seeing the refreshing moments they deserved at Hershey Park and meals in a restaurant, and being able to see them TOGETHER, there was no better moment I thought or didn’t think I would experience.

It is always amazing to be around young people, but seeing students willing to take criticism, willing to give criticism, willing to open their vulnerabilities and fears to be exposed and take risks, and to take those elements and turn them into victories and steps of success, and finally enjoy their lives at the sake of compromising, learning, and again exposing their weaknesses to make way for strengths – they are superwomen and men, not teenagers when they emerge from the accomplishments you will see the next few posts. I will be delving into the works they created over the next few posts/weeks, and see how they expressed their experiences, strengths, and beliefs through mediums like Youth Voices and the creation of Zines, just to name a few ways. You are going to love it as I loved every moments I was with them. This keeps coming back and keeping me up at night in the best possible way.

A second glimpse of true magic sometimes comes in the quietest forms. I have to tell you about this one young lady that changes things without saying a word. We have a young lady named Irene on our Cross Country team that just gives you a feeling of hope, faith, and optimism from her truly pure heart. I say this because of her gentle nature of running on the trail, her pure approach to all things living, her unrelenting, unforgiving of her self at times, and when you are around such a magical moment, and a person who brings such pureness to a sport, you never forget, ever. Irene brings this raw pureness and faith to a sport that often gets overlooked, often is underestimated of what goes in to the sport – and in such a decisive time in our communities and lives, this sounds corny, but this is so true – Irene, when you watch her run, you sense a calm, reassuring moment no matter the odds. Irene, without raising a voice, moves ahead on others running, not just in her time, but in her confidence, faith, and demeanor. You feel this as well when her family is present and supports the same sentiments, and all this without a word dropped ever. When you have someone this special, this powerful in just her presence, you know nothing else matters, numbers that outnumber you mean nothing when you have someone such as the strength that Irene brings to any team, sport, or group you are lucky enough to be in with her around. Complaints pale when you have someone that is willing to push through difficult times and never blink, but just push forward. Irene pushes us all forward, and to be in the presence of such an incredible person, how luck are we to be as coaches, teachers, and witnesses to such powerful moments?

Ironically, isn’t it wonderful how from different parts of experiences and lives students from this amazing strong Upward Bound summer and someone as quiet, yet powerful as Irene have so much alike? Instead of a summer consumed, I was lucky enough to have a summer and continuing Fall replenished – and there are more stories of these on a small but mighty XC, powerful, yet inspirational Upward Bound team, and I hope you are as excited as I am to hear stories not yet told.

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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