Busyness is the hot topic these days. Like being busy. We’ve just finished Week 3 of BAYUP and Week 2 at our sites, and we’re all realizing that these six weeks are totally packed with tons to do and learn, leaving less time for processing everything we’ve seen and sharing with each other about it. But we still have been pretty good at making time for hanging out – Age and Sarah owned Chris and Rob at cribbage , we’re on chapter 22 of Hunger Games, and Mike, Nathan, and A’Lester have played way too much Monopoly with the guys in the CityTeam program. But we’ve also settled into a good routine of work. Sarah, Seisha, Nathan, and A’Lester work at Oakland Based Urban Gardens (OBUGS) from 11am to 5:30pm Tuesdays-Fridays. Our official title at OBUGS is “Volunteer Camp Counselor” and we help manage, teach, play with, and tease about 25 kids (6-11 years old) at St. Martin de Porres elementary school in West Oakland.
Each day, we make a (sometimes) delicious vegetarian meal with the kids and eat it together for lunch. These kids would much prefer Taco Bell or Burger King to the quinoa and kale salads we make, so there’s a rule called “Don’t yuck my yum.” This is to prevent them from saying something is “gross” or “the lentil soup is vomit” and make other kids not want to eat it either. Then we split the kids between a physical activity related (loosely) to science – Weed Assassin was a big hit and Plant Part Factory complete with rhyming chants was not – and then a science activity. This week, the theme was cycles, so the kids scooped out compost one day and looked through it with a magnifying glass. Then for the last hour they do art and gardening. The decoupage potpourri jars on Thursday were a hot mess, but it worked out okay. Then, each Friday OBUGS takes the kids on a cute red and white bus to a field trip. Last Friday was the Exploratorium in SF (super fun – Sarah and A’Lester struggled not to lose kids as they got distracted doing different activities themselves) and this Friday was a trip to Tilden Park up in the Berkeley hills for a hike, petting farm animals, and playing field games. Sarah beat up on some kids in soccer, and then one of her favorite six year olds, Halimah, fell asleep on her on the bus ride back. Another kid, Gabriel, who is crazy energetic when he is conscious, fell asleep with a half-chewed carrot stick hanging out of his mouth and the lead counselor, Elliot, took pictures of him.
But yeah, the overall experience with OBUGS has been great. We are having a pretty great time with these kids, who are all African American or Latino, and from families from a lower socioeconomic class in West Oakland. It’s a lot of work and pretty challenging to understand some of the behavioral problems sometimes, but we’re getting familiar with all the different personalities and learning how to see each kid with God’s eyes and love them where they are at.