Thursday, October 16, 2003

Hanging With The Young'uns

Yesterday I went to the Big Brother/Big Sister Kick-Off Party not knowing what to expect since I had never been a mentor before and never worked with high school kids. Unfortunately, my little bro stood me up for unknown reasons. The coordinator told me that he did attend school earlier in the day and told his coach he would go to the party, so there should have no reason for him to skip out. Sigh, this is my second unsuccessful volunteering experience with high school kids.

I ended up pairing with a little bro whose mentor was running late. He seemed a bit standoff-ish at first, but became more animated and talkative after a few minutes of chatting. I guess I have that effect on people :-) I found out that Jamel (took me a couple of tries to get his name right) was a junior going to a high school near City Hall. He planned to attend Florida Institute of Technology because he liked Miami and computers. His goal was to start his own video game company because he loved video games. The man currently has almost every video game system that came to market in the past decade: NES, Super NES, Genesis, GameCube, XBox, PS2.

Jamel was telling me about the new features in NBA Street 2 when we started the ice breaker games. While we were playing mad lib, my jaw almost dropped when he asked me what an adjective is. How can a high school junior not know what an adjective is? Quite a few students also seemed to have trouble reading the stories. I guess the public education system here really is as bad as it's been portrayed in the media.

Then we started some mingling activity and I ended up debating with a few students the respective merits of certain popular hip hop artists. I never thought I would be discussing how much I love that R. Kelly "Thoing Thoing" song with 14-year-old teenage girls. It was pretty funny. When it was time to reveal our dream jobs, the boys all wanted to be NBA players of course. I told them that I didn't know what my dream job would be, which is the all-too-painful truth.

After two hours of eating snacks, socializing and playing games, the party ended. I wish we meet once every week instead of semi-monthly because I did enjoy the experience as well as the multiple free T-shirts. Until next time I guess.