When someone thinks of the term ” inner city kids ” the stereotypical picture of a minority student with baggy saggy clothes, and a really bad attitude comes to mind. Most people think that these kids are considered disrespectful , uneducated ” thugs” . But how many people actually try and get to know these kids ? How many people look past the stereotype and what the media portrays these kids to be? Over the past month I was lucky enough to work with these kids through my universities Summer College program. This program brought students from Newark and New York City to a liberal arts college over the course of four weeks and allowed them to see what a great opportunity college is .This program was single handedly the most amazing and eye opening experience of my life.
When I told people that I was doing this program, many of them doubted my ability to relate and handle students from inner cities. Many of them asked, ” Do you know what you’re getting into? Are you sure you can handle them? Do you really think this is a good idea?” Over time these doubts got to my head. These people made me think that I couldn’t do anything I set my mind to. It made me doubt all the abilities that I thought I had and made me think that this was a huge mistake. However by the second day of the first week I knew they were wrong. Each and everyone of the kids that I met were the most amazing people ever. They were engaged and allowed us into their lives with open arms. I formed relationships with people that I thought I would never form relationships. They are in many respects ” my children” because I truly cared for them and wanted nothing but the best for them. These kids were not a stereotype, they are normal teenagers. And that made me happy because they don’t let those around them tell them who they are. They don’t let society put them in a box. They are most unique, intelligent, funny, forgiving, and best human beings that have ever walked this earth.
Because I got to know some of them extremely well , I learned about myself too throughout this process. First of all , it affirmed that I do want to work with teenagers as I get older. It opened my eyes to maybe working in underprivileged schools because these kids deserve the best education. It also made me realize that maybe I’d want to work in a non profit, doing theater and writing that way. This way I can really be within the community and help create better relationships between others . But if I do become a teacher, it opened me to the idea of being more than just a teacher, but a guidance counselor. This program allowed me to realize that I have a knack for listening to others and help them sort through their problems. I want to keep helping others through their problems . The first week a student I was mentoring told me that I was the first person that made him realize that he support to go to college, and that I was that support. Hearing that come out of his mouth opened my eyes to how much I helped him. Because of that, I want to help others achieve their goals.
People can say a lot about our inner city areas. Yes they are crime ridden, and seem to only be falling deeper and deeper into poverty and despair. However there is a beacon of hope, and not to sound cliché but it’s in our youth. Those students our society labels as ” destructive” and a “nuance ” are the reason that I think our world can be great. All we have to do is allow them to open up, and to stop stereotyping them. These kids are the reason that I loved this summer. I’ can’t wait to come back next year and learn more rom these kids . I can’t thank them enough .