Over the course of four days, I have had the privilege to chaperone four brilliant WCCUSD students to the South and I was even more privileged to be able to bond with them. We became close in the four short days to where I assumed a sort of temporary parental role (they have taken to calling me "Mom"). Like a parent, I've been responsible for feeding them, assigning them bedtimes, driving them to their activities, and admonished them to stay on task. On their end, like sons and daughters, they have listened well to me, challenged me, and best of all have helped me to laugh and lighten up.
Today was the first day I have spent in Nashville without my illustrious students, and could it be possible I already miss them? Four distinct personalities: Jackie, the determined and reflective, when she speaks she commands attention because she isn't careless with her words, she's powerful. Edward, who wants to be an engineer, but who I also believe has every capability to be a politician and not for ambiguity with values, but because he is good with people. I mean, really good. He has an ability to make anyone comfortable, which can win the hearts of the masses. That coupled with his engineering skill, he's unstoppable. Jahnvi, energetic and fiery, although small in stature, I see her leading large teams of people someday. Then there is the unforgettable Jae-An, who is a wiz at piano, the SAT (so I've heard), Calculus, but also at being seriously funny and relatable. These personalities made for conversations that surprised me for depth sometimes and sometimes for the levels of silliness.
I dropped the group off at Vanderbilt yesterday and stayed with them during the check in process and I was a tad hesitant about leaving. Part of me wanted to take their bags to their dorms and check out their roommates. All this to say is that I have become accustomed to their company and perhaps even protective of them. On the other hand, I am excited for them to learn and become more confident in their skills. I'm looking forward to reading their blogs about what their accomplishing on campus, but even more excited for the recap conversations we'll have on the 29th.
It's a significant change from being responsible for other lives and keeping a schedule to doing whatever seems interesting for yourself at any time. I've gone from a plane ride and campus visit in the span of 6 hours on Friday, to today, where I accomplished lunch and getting my nails done. Ha! On the last dinner the cohort and I had together, we were all discussing the experiences we will have in the next three weeks and Edward looks at me with genuine concern and says something to the affect that he's worried about how I will keep myself entertained for three weeks. (What a caring son!) Not to worry though, I'm making plans "with balance", which means I will have activities likely every other day to include seeing Tony Bennett in concert, visiting the Grand Ole Opry and Fisk University, and other activities not yet determined. I have had numerous instances in this very leisurely day where I felt grateful for having an opportunity to truly get to know a city which will be done in these next three weeks. I'm elated to be here and I owe it all to the ILC, and also to the students, for without their hard work, there'd be no need for a chaperone. As I told them a few days ago, thanks for being so smart so I can see other parts of the country as a summer job.