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Highs and Lows

By: Melina Pha, AmeriCorps Promise Fellow serving at Mounds View YMCA

“Why do you always say you miss us when you don’t get to see and talk to us for a long time?” a student asked me during our big group check-ins. We were all coming back from Thanksgiving break looking relaxed and well-rested, and I had told them my low was being at the community center over break, but not having any students there to hang out with.

The activity bus pull ups in front of the building by 2:40pm and all of them slowly trickle in, with their never-ending energy shouting, “HIII MEELLIIINNNAA” as they meet me one by one. I will never get tired of hearing that. Truthfully, it energizes me! It pumps me up for a great programming time. It tells me I’m not the only one anticipating their return and welcoming them back even though they come day after day and spent weeks hanging out with me.

So when school breaks happen, it feels out of place not seeing them come through the doors, shouting my name throughout the building.

Listening to the students share all the bad, the good and inbetween stories, the honesty and genuine conversations that get shared and told is my highlight of being a Promise Fellow. Being that caring adult is such an important role to me. I get to laugh, empathize and learn so much from our conversations alone. Building that trust and vulnerability takes time and I can see that now it has shifted slightly and more students are peeling back their onion layers.

What gets me happy is when the students themselves are excited to tell me about what happened to them over the weekend, or telling me how they aced their test and or got their missing homework done and turned it in. Sharing a piece of their story to me, having that exchange with them is my favorite thing about my role as a Promise Fellow.

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