The worldwide Augustana College experience

I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on

I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this blog about my experience at the Alpha Boys School. There’s not a word or group of words, saying, song lyric, famous quote, poem or picture that could ever describe the past three days. I can attempt to tell stories and paint a picture for my audience, but I will never do the happenings in the cafeteria of the Alpha Boys School justice. I can show people pictures and let people watch and listen to my videos, but those shots won’t capture the true beauty of the boys that surrounded me for the past three days.

I don’t want to dwell on the confusion that we encountered when we first arrived at Alpha¬†on Wednesday morning. I don’t want to think about the “glass half empty” attitude that the Boys School principal seemed to have while giving her speech to us as we entered the school. And until all the tears are out of my system, I don’t want to think about some of the nasty supervisors they have, the horribly unhealthy food and lack of food they eat, how they don’t have clean clothes, how most of them don’t even have shoes, or the lack of a smile on all of their face when we aren’t around. (I know I don’t know how they are when we aren’t there, but I feel like I have a pretty good judge of how often a child smiles based on their smiles to me. So because of the amount and the sparkle of smiles they gave to me I just know there isn’t so many when we aren’t there.)
All of these things are the things that made me ball today. They absolutely broke my heart to pieces. I think it’s safe to say that I cried more than anyone at the schools saying goodbye… But when I think about those things now I just well up with more tears. And I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to cry because I know the boys don’t want me to cry. I tried to hide my tears from them but they started falling too hard for me to hide them any longer after a while. And the care and concern on those boys faces when they saw that I was crying was even more tear jerking. They cared so much. They didn’t want me to cry. Which is why I don’t want to cry anymore. I want to clear my head. I want to come to peace with this situation so that I can think with a clear mind. I need a clear mind to really decide what I can do to continue making a difference. I can’t let those boys down. And the first step to that is to stop crying. And the second step is to do something, to continue to make a difference for my boys. I really feel that they are counting on me.
The musicians at Alpha surpassed all expectations that I had of them. I mean, I didn’t have many expectations to begin with because no one really knew what was going to happen for the music group while at Alpha. But I keep going back to that video that Mike and Dr. J showed earlier in the term of the boys playing their instruments. That’s where my expectations and my visions sprouted; they came from that video. I would really like two watch it again and see if I recognize any of the boys. I have a feeling that I would recognize a couple that I worked with over my three days with them. That video is all I had before, and now I have so much more. More than I could have ever imagine.
I’ve been inspired. I’ve been empowered. I’ve been uplifted. And I’ve been blessed. These boys taught me so much. They taught me patience, kindness, respect, politeness, hard work, and discipline just to name a few. Their smiles, their sound, their sweet voices, and the way they called me “miss” will never be forgotten. I will never forgot those boys.
In a note I wrote to each boy that I came into contact with I told them this… No drugs, no guns. Just music. Music will keep you safe. Music will keep you out of trouble. I told them to keep practicing and never give up because they can do great things.
For these boys, music is all they have to keep them going. There’s nothing else for them right now. But for everyone there is something. Something to keep you going. Something to keep you safe. Something that we should never give up.
Thank you for everyone who made this trip all that it was. For Mike and Dr. J., for Stephanie L., Julia, Stephanie S., Carly, Deonna, Jenna, Abby, Katie, Susan, Casey, Kaitlyn, Amanda, Lea, Jessie, Taelar, Tara, and my boys Isaac and Tyler, and for Augustana for bringing us all together. I love you all. This trip is definitely not the end, but rather the beginning of a life long friendship that started with a passion for young children who needed to learn something from us. But really we all ended up learning more from them than them from us.
If I could tell the boys just one more thing I’d tell them this, “Lean on me, when you’re not strong. I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on…”

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