Tonight I facilitated a session with all of my juniors where they each (and all) shared their personal stories. They had been working on their personal stories as precursors to their personal statements for college applications. I kind of did not know what to expect from the evening, but I knew that I wanted it to be empowering–for them to see their strengths in each other, the beautiful and unique stories they each have, and the courageous support system that surrounds them.
Tonight was also the culmination of “The Bridge,” which is a program that I co-created to help bridge the priceless business lessons that they were learning with much-needed applications into their personal lives as well as the rigorous college application process. The 11-week “Bridge” ended tonight with each junior subsequently opening up and sharing their authentic and unique stories.
Some were tragic. Some were funny. And others were insightful and artistically written. They all grabbed my heart.
Each word spoke of courage, resilience, and strength, no matter if the story was about the trials of crossing the Rio Grande, the wonders of finding your own voice, or the dread of fearing abuse or discrimination.
Each progressive word tugged on my heartstrings, beckoning my eyes to let go of the well of tears that my eyelids had dammed. Each volunteering story showed me the depth and the strength of the students that I have been working with for the past two years. Tonight I feel like I did two years of work in less than two hours.
At the end of the night, one of my historically unruly students chose to speak and acknowledge her fellow students, unrehearsed. She had, in the past, been one of the most difficult students to try to crack and understand, but tonight she experienced some sort of growth, and maturely acknowledged her fellow students and thereby validated the entire 11-week process and all of the literal blood, sweat, and tears I had put into it to make it happen.
But alas, this is not about me. It’s about them. We all have our stories–our own unique, authentic, and beautiful stories. Sometimes I wish adults had to apply to more things JUST SO they would have to write another personal statement. The process is so reflective and healing at the same time. I hope this process will help to heal some of my students’ wounds. From the looks of it tonight, they will all help each other heal from their wounds. Lord knows they’re helping to heal mine.