Friday, April 24, 2009

Celf Awareness

What an awesome program we participated in yesterday! Students and their teachers/chaperones came streaming into Pace University Gymnasium equipped with environmentally focused questions to ask each exhibitor.

We were asked to write our own questions, which Celf organizers tweeted. Goody Goodies were: How do you know you're buying fair trade, slavery free chocolate? What makes these soccer balls sweat-shop free and eco-friendly? Ask us how you can become famous just by doing something you love. Do you know the answers?

While many students typically came to get their answers and left without much thought, far more stayed and had more meaningful questions and I hope walked away inspired to seek out fair trade products, to make the world more just and fair, to do something they love.

And while we spoke to 1500+ students, Macallan sat in the High School auditorium to participate in Rachel's Challenge. Rachel was the first person killed by the gunmen of Columbine. Her parents, I'm sure, tried to piece together some semblance of meaning from her untimely death and now dedicate their lives to her memory and her unfailing human spirit. Seems in her journal entries (the very journal found in her backpack the day of the shooting with a bullet hole ripped clear through) and an essay written a month before, she shared her idea of creating a chain reaction of kindness and respect.

Her father developed a school program that uses Rachel's spirit as inspiration for students. According to Macallan, the presentation showed how in retrospect, they see that her life had culminated in her death. Only after she died, did they find a note she had written and taped to the back of her dresser. The note was an outline of her hand and inside she scrawled that this hand would one day touch millions. A man 1,000 miles away, kept having dreams. He finally contacted Rachel's father and described this image he had that he claimed had something to do with Rachel. That's when everything took shape - Rachel had drawn a picture of weeping flower. When the tears (13, the same number of people that died that day) hit the ground, more flowers grew. Her father knew then, that he had to do something.

If I am to follow my idea that clues are given to us and we must follow, I see my work heading toward impacting youth. Recently, old Scholastic buddies have re-surfaced on Facebook. There was a time when I lived and breathed educational materials. That was the job I loved and had to give up after having Macallan and moving to Garrison (coming full circle?). With me concentrating on writing my memories in the past few weeks, the regret lingers and holds strong. I loved writing for students. I miss it.

At the Trunk Sale in Brooklyn, two young women came to the sale. They have since come to me asking what they can do to help. And before them, a Princeton student contacted me wanting me to make arrangements for her to go to Botswana to apprentice under Kushonya (Master Basket Weaver) and also spend some time with ostrich eggshell beaders to learn that craft...Impacting students. I think I need to get back to that love and bring all of our experiences to a generation that can and will do something about it. Can and will make the world a better place.

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