first off, in spokane, washington you have about eight schools in the same 7 mile radius. its nuts. they have a lot of one way streets that weave in and out of suburbia and then all of a sudden - BOOM you're in the middle of a rebuilt beautiful school campus with kids walking everywhere. two schools were on the same street! thats really funny to me. maybe i'm weird. there are 2 universities in the same town, too. i finally saw gonzaga university instead of just putting them on my NCAA final 4 basketball bracket every march because their name is fun. anyways...
we've been in spokane for 8 days. we leave tomorrow to go to another part of washington, but the best thing happened yesterday. we were able to go to havermale high school - an alternative school in the city. we show up and we see tons of students in one area and there is a pillar of smoke just above their heads. right next to them is a garden fenced in and well taken care of. we step into the school and see the interior - lockers, posters, classrooms, etc. we ask two students where the lunch room is and they direct us down the hall. allowing the smell of food to direct us to where we need to go, we walk into a room filled with students munching on cheezeburgers and salads. with all of our boxes in hand i find an older woman with a smile beaming across her face. "hi! you must be meagan!! i'm cindy!" she proclaims as we start to shake hands. there are two high schoolers standing next to her. wearing thick eye liner and a shirt that says "spokane zombies" one looks to me and says 'hi! i'm haley" and we begin to have conversations about the school and Invisible Children as an organization.
during lunch we're able to talk to Cindy - the adminstrator of the school - about what exactly havermale stands for. she tells me that most students make the choice to come to havermale. usually they are looking for an education and want to go to college, but the normal structure of school doesn't match well with their personalities. as she explains, i find out that there is much more attention put on quality and depth in the relationships with the students instead of just making a good grade. most of the students live in poverty and one student lives in a tent under a bridge. its crazy imagining that even now out of college, much less being in your teenage years.
while we showed the film, i found myself on the edge of tears many times.in "Go!" one of the students who won a trip to northern Uganda is Tye from kentucky. 80% of the students he went to school with live below the poverty line and yet they still found a way to unite and make change together. i remember how i felt when i first saw the "rough cut" and how i saw a way for my life to be a part of something bigger than what was right in front of me. i kept thinking about how this message of hope speaks directly to the heart of a lot of people going to high school. the mere thought of any of these students seeing that hope and ability in themselves made me want to do everything i could to encourage them to get involved. i kept thinking - "this is one of the reasons why you are so lucky to be here, meg." powerful. most of the time we go to regular schools and try to connect with anyone, but this time it was different. the best part was knowing that they could relate with James and Robert about living and growing up through difficulties and tragedies following you throughout your whole life. this is why we have this job. to reach out to the people who have so much to give and don't know their outlet to do so.
after the screening almost half of the students stuck around with bright eyes and excited tones in their words. many of them wanted to do everything they could to help. one girl named Cassy almost couldn't stay in her seat because she wanted to start now and do everything she could to be involved. many students brought up ideas and plans and had such eagerness to be a part of this. today i got a call from Cindy again asking for a copy of the DVD to share with people who missed the film yesterday. the buzz was still going and they were still excited.
every student and connection matters. this is the beauty of what we do everyday.