August 31st, 2014 | Uncategorized
Summer camps, training sessions, and Ehoops… Today, the five of us Victory Scholars based at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown were given a rare day off! I’m less happy for us, and more happy for the SCL staff that is responsible for carting us around to all these events as well as putting the time in there themselves. It is nice to have a team of chauffeurs, even though they drive on the wrong side of the road and from the wrong side of the car ;), but I’ve had to make it a goal to become a little less reliant on them.
Basically, there’s no reason to feel like I’m stranded when there is public transportation at my disposal. I took the train into Belfast alone last week and found my way to Victoria Square in the City Centre. There, many of my favorite stores from home are clustered together in some kind of indoor/outdoor mall, more than three stories high. I walked around for a long time, just soaking it all in. Though the city evoked the same ‘hustle and bustle’ of any other metropolitan area, I couldn’t help but notice the atmosphere was more free-spirited that that of the American cities I’m used to, or so it seemed. People walk with less of a purpose; less of a sense of urgency. While we’re kept busy as Victory Scholars within the organization, I realize the culture is more laid back. Maybe part of the reason SCL keeps us so busy is so we feel more at home, but I’m certain they utilize us to the full of our potential because the youth are their first priority, and we are valuable tools.
Every day I learn something new about just how involved the members of this organization are with the young people in our programs. I know the highest members of SCL are not above putting themselves in dangerous situations to protect the welfare of the kids they’ve met, no matter the hour in which they receive a call or text. Though the young people come in groups once a week for programs like Ehoops or SHEhoops, many members of staff meet with them up to an additional five times a week on a 1-1 basis just to check in. It makes me think about how the culture in America is so highly reward-oriented… People and organizations strive for the best reputation, to accumulate awards and accolades, though the purpose is sometimes lost. Maybe that’s not exclusive to America… but regardless of location, it’s nice to see first-hand the working parts of an organization that has never lost its sense of purpose, and I am only thankful that our days have been going by so quickly because we’ve been so busy as contributors.
It’s days like today, however, that I can appreciate the more relaxed pace of a different culture. As we approach week three, schedules and details are starting to come into focus… I have an idea of what my weeks will be looking like in terms of class time, coaching, practicing, and mentoring. And while I’ll enjoy every moment of it all, I won’t forget to take advantage of days like today, when I can appreciate a slower pace and enjoy some exploration and adventure on my own.