Like I did with my class graduation picture, I will only do this once.
Before I headed out to the Culinary Institute of America four years ago, I had the opportunity to be an intern for the Youth and Government program. To keep the story simple, what the interns do is be an advisor for these incoming freshmen, to let them know what half the program, the serious part, is all about.
Me and JP (gray shirt, fedora, glasses) got the opportunity to mentor these kids regarding the topic of Immigration. I know, how cliche - two brown people of Non-American descent taking on the topic. Essentially, JP and myself guided these young men and women into constructing a bill that was to be debated and passed in a mock legislation format. Granted, there were some problems along the way such as people arguing, people procrastinating, and some people not being able to integrate with the group as well as they should have.
What grew out of these struggles was a bill that passed Senate, but not assembly. I remember the moment it passed senate. I teared up. I did so because there is just something so magnificent when people are up there, defending their work and their beliefs. It was not mine or JP’s fight at all - it was these kids’ fight. The way they handled themselves, with composure and confidence, along with a good result. The reaction should speak for itself.
After we took this picture, JP and myself gave these students their surveys to see how we did. Did they like the program? Are they ever coming back? I knew they were coming back for more, because I saw genuine emotions that they wanted to, even if they didn’t show it in their faces. Suddenly, one student asks me:
Are you coming back?
I had to say it: No.
Why? They asked. I said that I was headed to New York to study. I don’t know what else I said after that. Probably that I was sorry, and there is nothing I could do about it.
Today, as I see JP posting a status about facing reality after a Joint Convention at Sacramento, it hit me that this is the year in which these kids leave the Youth and Government program as a student. I am willing to say that whoever stuck around had the best times of their life participating in the program, and that those times will never forgotten, because it’s simply impossible to.
While there is some pain for these people to leave a program that gave so much to them, in terms of confidence, social life, or whatever else the program gave to these students… They’re about to realize that they’re about to have the time of their lives in the next phase of their life. College. Whatever it is they want to do, I’m pretty sure that they’ll succeed.
They’ll succeed, much like they wanted me to not leave for New York and hang out with them for another year. They’ll succeed, much like they did in constructing their bill, and debating for it against the masses. And finally, they’ll succeed because they’ll spark something great in someone else, just as JP and I have sparked something within them.
Just like how much I want to teach when I’m done busting my hump and when the time comes.