Shades of the Mundane
My first few weeks at my site were very ordinary, but anything but ordinary at the same time. The colorful personalities of the youth that I provided direct services to changed the tempo of my time there. The strange brew that’s their social chemistry is the only thing that kept me on my toes for about 8 weeks; while I waited to go on an outing with the gentlemen of my site. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t know what I was getting into when I signed up to do my term of service. But in retrospect I am glad that I am here; much like military basic training I am learning a lot about myself, and the strides I must take to improve on what it is I already have. These young men challenge me on a daily basis, in fact the very notion that I have to deffer to the staff before taking disciplinary action concerning these young men was a true triumph of my ego; coming from environments where I make the disciplinary decisions concerning the youth I supervise. The reason I bring this up is because there are a lot of things that I see that I would handle completely differently than the way I see the staff handle them.
Because of the delicate nature of the youth that I work with I am limited in the range of ways I can discipline them. For me it is hard to understand the plight of these young men because I have never been medicated for the things that ails them; and I have never been failed by the adults in my life the way these young men have been. I pray for these young men when ever it crosses my mind, and/or heart. But on another level I am confronted with a fundamental obstacle of personal responsibility, and how these young men are handling the reality of the gravity of time that will soon bring them face to face with it. I fear some of them will be future tenants of the county jail soon enough, as much I align myself with hope and all the best possibilities for these young men the more I can perceive reality. But all I can do is hope that they make the right choices in life from this point on. No matter what I see in these young men, or the bad choices that they have made, or how many times they have been to Shuman Detention Center the light on the horizon is that they are still young, and have time to change. Or at least enough time to realign themselves, and be productive members of society.
Our Monthly Achievement Logs define mentoring as ‘all things that give you an opportunity to be a positive role model for the youth.’ Things like playing ball, video games or even a game of cards. And it doesn’t get more mundane than this folks, especially on some days at my site. Most the time the kids are more apt to let you know when something is getting boring before you have an opportunity to abandon it yourself. During our orientation the spiritual adviser told us that we will be planting seeds that we would most likely not see come to fruition; after he delivered that line with the utmost humility, I began to become okay with anything that I would see or experience. After nearly 5 months I can honestly say that I made the right choice. I can only hope that there has been enough time and space supplied that I could have had left a deep positive impression on these young men.
-Bayette Bikim Brown
KEYS Member 2011/2012