Friday, July 20, 2007

End of a Busy Week

Greetings! I have just completely an exhausting, yet very fulfilling second week at Cabrini Connections.
The third day of the Edgewood College visit was a short one - all the Edgewood College students and the kids left around noon. During our short morning together we did several activities, but one in particular left a big impression on the kids. We played jeopardy, but our version was all about college and careers. I think the part that made the kids think the most was the category about "Cost of Living." Several questions were "What is the average salary of someone with only an 8th grade education?" (Higher than I expected - although only $14,000/year), "How much do diapers and wipes cost per month?" (a whopping $100) and what does the average two bedroom apartment cost in Chicago ($1500!). These were things that I had no idea about when I went to college, so I thought it was important that the kids realized how much things really do cost and how important it is for them to stay and school. I also thought it was really important that the Edgewood College people kept emphasizing how much money there is out there to help kids go to college. If they have the grades, there really is no excuse for them not to go to college. However, I also thought it was important to emphasize that going to trade school, or getting a job that doesn't require a college education is a very viable option as well. I think my Northwestern friends would be surprised to realize just how much construction workers, or plumbers or electricians really do make and how they have great benefits as well. Since a good number of the kids at Cabrini Connections will not go to college, the emphasis on these type of jobs is so important as well.
All in all, I think the Edgewood College graduate students got just as much out of working with the Cabrini Connections kids as the Cabrini Connections kids got out of working with the graduate students. I know it was great for the kids to meet adults who were going to school and who were becoming teachers, since a lot of kids, especially on the last day, shared their negative experiences with teachers with the graduate students. For the graduate students, however, I thought it was very important to interact with the Cabrini Connections kids so closely because I think they got a lot of insight into these kids' lives that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
In a complete reversal of situations, yesterday Cabrini Connections had its 12th Annual Jimmy Biggs Memorial Golf Tournament at Highland Park Country Club. Jimmy Biggs was one of the first Cabrini Connections students and worked for Cabrini Connections after high school. Tragically, he died at a very young age from Diabetes, which Dan Bassill emphasized is one of the most common silent killers of young people in the Inner City.
I thought it was a great idea to bring out a couple of the Cabrini Connections kids to the Golf Tournament, both current and graduated, to put a face on the program. All different kinds of businesses, corporate firms, etc. participated in the golf tournament and it was definitely a different crowd than what I had been working with since I started Cabrini Connections. For most of the day, I supervised one of the Par-3 holes where a hole-in-one contest was going on. At all of the Par-3's, if you got a hole-in-0ne you would win a prize such as a 2-year lease on a brand new Lexus, or an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii. Unfortunately nobody won, but I still had a great time. While the tournament was going on, the Cabrini Connections kids were zooming around in golf carts and taking photos of the teams. Hopefully, next week I'll put up some photos of the golf tournament and the Edgewood College visit. Anyway, while I was supervising the hole-in-one contest, I was attempting to tell the players about Cabrini Connections, to little avail since they were pretty focused on our golf game. However, after the tournament, while we had dinner and a silent auction, I found a great opportunity to tell people about Cabrini Connections, and also my fellowship. It was a nice change of pace talking to adults in the business or law world about Cabrini Connections and I was really pleased how interested and responsive the people were.
Next week, look forward to stories of poker night and photos of the past week!

1 comment:

Ariane said...

I just wanted to say I'm glad you decided to emphasize trade schools as well as college during the Edgewood visit. Although it would be great if a ton of Cabrini kids went to college... it just isn't realistic for all of them.

It might make a lot more sense for some of the kids to become skilled electricians, plumbers, crane operators, etc. By pushing these kids toward college instead, we might just be pushing them away in general.

Keep up the good work!