Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Here Comes the Sun...or Rain

To begin with, I say this title because I have been on a Beatles binge over the last couple weeks. My good friends on the east coast will say Peppers, but I am more of an Abbey Road, but I need more time, Mike and Jordan. I don't know why but things just keep popping in mind such as strawberry fields; i used to chill with this girl named Lucy (no diamonds though) and of course Walruses. The mascot of the school I am working at, happens to be the dolphin, which is just a little funny.

Anyway...I wanted to just update you all on whats going on over here. I have really enjoyed my time here so far in Seattle. Its such a great city and I honestly can't get over the weather right now. Too be honest, I have been very spoiled with the weather so far and the rain is starting to come. My friend Brian and I have already taken some nice bike rides through the city and its gorgeous, especially going through an area called Capitol Hill overlooking the Puget Sound. I also saw Mt. Rainier from this park a bike ride away.

I pretty much bike everywhere and the buses are my friend. They take awhile sometimes and my 1.5 hour commute to my school in the morning is no joke.
It's actually quite an interesting story about that 1.5 commute. There once was the South Park bridge which connected where I live (Rainier Beach) to where my school is (West Seattle). Sadly, this bridge was closed down last year because it needs repairs and its going to be about a $130 million project, which the Seattle government is not willing to provide the full funding. This creates a problem for West Seattle, which is already secluded from the downtown area and the businesses and commerce going in and out of this region. West Seattle is home to one of the most diverse areas in the nation, consisting of Somalian refugees, Mexican Immigrants and 1st generation Asian immigrants to named a few. Its created a lot of tension for West Seattle because it will cause this area to be even more pushed to the side than before. This little story is one of many that has led City Year to serve in this area.
For the past couple weeks, I have done so much training I don't think I could sit through another meeting without falling asleep. Don't get me wrong, I have actually learned a lot. We have taken classes on tutoring, behavioral resolution, cross-cultural training and understanding City Year culture, etc. As I have expressed to some of you, I am considering pursuing teaching and I feel this would be one of the ways I could serve Jesus relational, as well as honoring him by using my biology degree (Terrapins!). I love science, so it's been quite informing for me to be here and just soak it all in. I never took any education classes and I don't know the first thing of teaching because most of my time was spent in labs among other places during my genetic years of college. During my last year of college, my good friend Carol helped to cultivate the idea of teaching. She invited me to shadow her when she would mentor middle school scholars in DC and that's really all I have for practical, as well as my experience in Kolkata last summer. Last week we spent a lot of time working in the schools and getting ready for the kids to come, which is TOMORROW! We have met almost all the teachers and its been really exciting to be there and get a bigger picture of what we will be doing.

For the year, I will be working with a group about 40 8th grade students, moving throughout the day with them and assisting them with their work, questions, as well as helping the teacher keep them in line. By the way...we had to share about a time in middle school and I disliked middle school a lot. So much awkwardness and peer pressure. Teenage angst, ah (see Harry Potter 6 or read it). Anyway, I will be focusing on a couple students in my group and specifically helping with math and science, as well as other subjects as best I can. Personally, I think it will be helpful for me to shadow the science teachers a little bit and understand what it looks like to lead a classroom.

On my team, there are 14 corps members with 2 senior corp members and we are dispersed throughout each grade, following and helping specific students. We have our own office, which will be nice to relax and step away for a little. We just painted it but after this year, the middle school will move to a brand new building across the street in coordination with Chief Sealth High school, so we didn't get too crazy. As far as my team goes, we have been getting along very well and seeing ways that we can learn from each other. Its been very hard for some, as well as myself, to understand our limits and what those look like to the kids we will be working with. Everyone in City Year has come for different reasons and it doesn't surprise me that people will strongly disagree with others. It also is kind of exciting for me to hear from others and also be challenged of what I think of certain things. I have had a plethora of philosophical discussions on faith, justice, equality, racism, homosexuality, and other controversial topics.
That aside, I have already made some good friends in the program and I am still looking for a church so I can get into a small group and meet some other Christians for encouragement. I have been volunteer coaching at a community center for soccer still, so that's been really fun. I have been exploring the neighborhood and that has given me some understanding of what this city is in need of, but also in seeing the "togetherness" of this community. Most of the Seattlites are very friendly and I have met so many different people. I randomly met this guy at a bus stop and he gave me a peach while we chatted.
I am pretty pumped for the new school year to start and excited for what the next month will look as I get used to the school and kids that will be coming in. We have a lot of expectations for our Denny Dolphin team, but I believe we are ready.

I could use some prayers for:
community in Seattle..I have met some people, but its hard when your far away from good friends.
communication with my teammates, my sister, friends from the east coast, and The girl
attitude of a servant like Jesus (Phil 2:5), who was kind, selfless, generous and humble. To serve my teammates, teachers and kids well

Thanks everyone...if you actually made it this far, Kudos to you.
I am still trying to figure out when I am going back to Maryland. A $700 a month budget is a little tricky to figure out, so a cheap flight back will be a tough thing to navigate.

O and I just had to add this that I went to a Sounders GAME tonight (9/9/10)! The place where I was coaching had two extra tickets, so my friend John and I went. It was pretty sick. We got free scarves, VIP access with food and drinks. Club level seating and then after the game, we got to go on the field and meet some of the players, authgraphs and kick the ball around! What a great night and I thought I would share!

Miss everyone and hope your getting ready for September (i wonder how it would have worked out if a water went along with Earth, Wind & Fire)

- Roberto Gutz