So the first two weeks of July our team hosted the 39 STEP UP participants in our Food Hub, Garden and Admin Office. STEP UP Omaha! provides jobs and paid internship opportunities to youth and young adults during the summer. One of our gals taught culinary arts in the kitchen, another agricultural education in the garden and me, the Internet of Things in the Admin Office. These learners are 14-15 years old and come from all schools, mostly in North Omaha. Our Director of Operations, Susan, opened each session with a level setting time and also finished our time together every day. Each of us had each group twice for 3 hours or so. It was a HOT week which played into the Admin Office meeting space, which usually holds 8-10 adults and we had 13 large bodies who were busy trying to make impressions in addition to engaging with me and the content I wanted to share. The afternoons wore on and were tedious, I left each day exhausted. They sucked the life out of me, that is for sure.
The last day of our 2 weeks together, we hosted a graduation ceremony at the local Community College. It was a sweet celebration and Susan asked each teacher to give a three minute speech to summarize the class. I had selected 3 or so learners from each group that had been engaged and interested, and showed leadership. I’d planned to lead with the Vince Lombardi quote, “Leaders are not born, they are made.”
When my name was announced for me to speak, the kids started cheering. Seriously, cheering and yelling out “sister”, which is what I called all the girls because I couldn’t recall each of their names. I was overcome. Tears welled up in my eyes and I lost my direction on what I’d prepared to share. After a few moments, I did regain composure and delivered my speech on leadership.
I walked away from the experience in shock. Days later the shock remains.