I'm finishing my Gen Ed requirements at a local urban community college. Initially I'd planned to go to the community college in the county in which I live, but ... since I will be doing my student teaching in the urban district, and I would like to volunteer with youth (outside of teaching) in that same urban district and possibly even teach elementary school there, I felt that the urban school was the perfect place to dive in sooner rather than later. And, honestly, I couldn't be happier. I feel older (not old, but certainly older!), but I feel entirely at home.
I have one class on campus and three online. My class on campus is Public Speaking, and Tuesday and Thursday of this week were spent listening to each student give a short speech introducing themselves. I'd expected the speeches would cover name, age, high school, hobbies, interests, career aspirations, jobs, that sort of thing. I was shocked to hear these kids sharing so openly about growing up in extreme poverty, childhood abuse, severely fractured families, violence in their neighborhoods, teenage pregnancies, abandonment, the difficulties and joys of single parenting, etc. Their honesty and vulnerability shocked me.
I lived a youth similar to many of theirs, but I would never have talked so openly about it at their age. Perhaps one difference is that my high school drew kids from all over the district - some living in extreme poverty and utter brokenness, others fairly wealthy and well put together - so we kept our private lives private out of insecurity and fear of others reactions. You could could it discretion - and discretion is a good thing - but I couldn't help admire how these kids were able to be real about who they are and where they've been.
Most of these kids graduated from the same school; growing up in the same neighborhoods, knowing the exact same brokenness of home and community... Perhaps that fosters an environment where one can openly talk about what they're living. Sort of a live-in support group. It is very interesting.
I am so glad I decided to dive in to an urban school now. I love it there.