Tag Archives: Obstacles

School’s Out. . . For Summer!

Yeah, dudes. Today is the last day of school for students and teachers who are part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system.

Which means that Hyper Lad and I are free for the next couple of months.

Well, really, Hyper Lad is free. I’m just sad.

As you might remember, I’ve been working as a Title I Tutor at Awesome Elementary here in Charlotte for the past almost complete school year. And, honestly, I don’t remember when I’ve had a more fun work year.

It was a treat, a joy, an appallingly wonderful experience to interact with these little dudes and dudettes, their teachers and the school in general during this school year. I really had a hard time holding it together over the last week or so as I considered that this might be the last time I see some of them.

The deal is that the funding for my job is from a federal source, which means it’s not the most stable source around. It could have been offset by the state, but it’s cutting more than 400 teacher assistant and tutor positions around the state in the coming school year. Personally, I think that’s extremely short-sighted. They’re exchanging a happier future for a slightly more solvent present, all so they can avoid making the hard choices like antagonizing their major campaign contributors by making the rich pay their fair share.

I’ll get down off my soapbox now. Sorry.

Anyway.

With the funding for my position gone, so am I. Which means I won’t be around to watch as the younger kids keep growing and learning and turning into young men and young women. I won’t get to watch the fourth-graders prepare themselves to become middle schoolers.

I enjoyed working with all of these students, but there are a few that will remain my favorite. These are kids who really worked hard, who had a spark in their eyes, who loved to learn, or learned to love it. These are the kids who had to overcome even more obstacles than did most of the kids at this mostly-poor school.

I watched them overcome so much, and helped as much as I could. And now I’ll not get to see them as they keep working and keep growing.

Oh, I will be back at least a little bit. I mean, I just can’t go cold turkey. But I’ll only be there as a volunteer and not there as a worker or someone who sees them everyday.

Still, I can’t thank the teachers, students and administrators from Awesome Elementary (known in it’s more everyday guise as Huntingtowne Farms Elementary School). I really feel like I should have been paying them over the course of the year. I’ve come to care about them more than I ever thought possible. Come to depend on seeing their smiles and hearing their voices.

And, for me, as of today, they’ll all be gone.

I don’t pretend that any of them will really miss me, or wonder all that much about me come next year, but they will be on my mind. Dwelling in the small space they dug for themselves deep in my heart.

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Giving Gifts With A Little Meaning This Year

by Richard

My family — my extended family of relatives and friends — isn’t poor. We’re not living hand-to-mouth. In fact, if you wanted to stretch the definition, you might say the dudes and dudettes in my family are doing pretty all right.

Normally around this time of year, we pick names out of a hat and give gifts to those whose names we’ve drawn, and begin making lists of small gifts to give to friends to show them they are appreciated.

It seems as if the season devolves down to giving out gift cards. Wheeee!

I’m not excited about that. So I decided to make someone else’s day much brighter.

Instead of giving a gift card, I’m going to give a chicken. Or a goat. Or school uniforms. And I’m going to give those things to people who actually need them. And I’m going to do it in the name of those folks who are on my gift list.

I know there are a rather lot of organizations like this, but I’ve found one that makes the most sense to me: Heifer International.

This is a fantastic website and a wonderful, if a bit self important, catalog, billing itself as TheMost Important Gift Catalog in the World.

Inside, you’ll find ways to make someone’s life worth living again.

There are projets to help refugee camps in Rawanda, projects to put safe and effective roofs on shacks in villages throughout the third world, projects to give chickens to poor families, projects to help offer school uniforms to children who can’t afford them.

Whatever kind of project you can think of that is transforming the lives of someone not nearly as fortunate as you are (and, considering you’re reading this on a computer somewhere and you have the time to spare from getting something to eat or a place to sleep, you’re pretty fortunate) and who will really live a changed life after your help.

There are so many charity organizations like UNICEF, your local equivalent of the Second Harvest Food Bank, whatever. You can help someone learn to read through RIF. Google charitable giving and you’ll find an overwhelming number of needs and organizations ready to fulfill those needs.

Instead of giving a gift card or whatever that will be thrown into an increasingly large stack and then basically forgotten once the wrapping paper is thrown out and the thank-you notes written, consider saving or transforming someone’s life.

You will feel better. You will enjoy your life more.

And you will have shown someone, somewhere that life is not an endless series of humiliating, crushing obstacles erected to make his or her life miserable, but that there are people who care and people who want them to succeed.

That sounds like a hell of a good present to me.

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Lurchers To The Left, Lurchers To The Right, Moan Now Moan Now Bite, Bite Bite

by Richard

I’ve talked to you dudes before about how zombies seem to be lurching into our lives from all over on the cultural map. It’s only getting worse. It seems there’s an entire race series based around the idea that we need to get away from zombies.

No. Really.

It’s the Run For Your Lives race, which is described as “a zombie-infested 5k obstacle course run.” Which, you know, pretty much says it all.

According to the event’s website, there’s already 12 races of this type from Massachusetts to Washington, from Minnesota to Florida, and many parts in between. That’s a lot of areas and that’s a lot of people who think it would be fun to run five kilometers as hard as they can and, when they’re least expecting it, have to sprint their way out of the clutches of a couple of roamers, while also climbing over and digging under obstacles.

Zombies. Sheesh, dudes, they’re everywhere.

Isn’t it awesome?

All right, I’ll admit the ubiquitous nature of today’s Romeroian zombies can get a bit on your nerves if you’re not careful, but, I mean, come on. The idea of going for a 5k competition run, trying to cope with an obstacle course at the same time and getting ambushed by zombies. . . To me, that’s just complete awesome.

I think if these people ever have a Run For Your Lives event near North Carolina, and I’m talking only a state away, I’m in. I probably won’t finish, but I have a feeling I’ll have a great time.

 

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