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Being the adult I needed as a youth

High school was a tough, tough time. I remember it being full of self-discovery, exploration and confusion. It felt like life had handed me a map without a compass.

This week, I taught Wen-Do at a high school two periods a day from Monday to Friday. Each day I reminded them that they are valuable, that they are worth protecting and that they are entitled to support and help if ever they are in a dangerous situation.

Periodically I break the group into pairs for practice. They offered thoughtful feedback to each other and worked up the strength of their hits to the point where they were surprised of their own strength!

I have been working with the theme of “completion” in my life, and today felt like a poignant end to a week’s worth of work. I was telling the truth when I told them that I will miss them.

“Awwww!” they chorused and invited me back to teach on Monday. I wished I could!

The biggest treat, though, happened at the end of the day; one student came back and handed me a scroll and then jogged away. I pulled off the burgundy string and inside was a drawing of me.

This student – who is resilient beyond her own recognition – wished to thank me. I know this gift for what it is: a token of appreciation that goes beyond the basics. Something that says this was really important to me. From the bottom of my heart, I was humbled.

I am so grateful that this student gave me a gift to remember her by. It’s going up on my wall next to my computer where I can see it everyday.

High school can be so hard. Sometimes, there’s a flicker of confidence for even the most unlikely students. Sometimes it’s more like a small flame that gets re-ignited during gym class everyday for a week.

Thank you to Thornlea SS, to Ms. B. and to my students. You fill my heart with hope.

In what ways have you become the adult you needed as a youth? Let me know in the comments section below!

2 thoughts on “Being the adult I needed as a youth

  1. Shai! This is so wonderful; what a gift you’ve shared by telling this story and by asking how we’ve become the adults we needed as a youth. I too agree, high school was tough, but being a teenager even tougher. I’m the adult I wish I had when I show up to the youth centre drop-in everyday. When I show up without judgement. When I show up and recognize the bravery each person chooses to show. When they are happy, when they’re sad, pissed, confused, hyper, elated….I just show up.

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