Playdates with God: College Summit

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One of my fellow Writing Coaches, Jamecia. What a gifted and passionate young lady she is.

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There were about 39 kids in our workshop, from various schools and counties.

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Here I am with our Writing Coach Coordinator, Lionel. He is awesome.

I look into his dark eyes and think about my own children—this brown-skinned boy who towers over me is someone’s son, someone’s grandson. I don’t know all of his story; but I have watched him shine among his peers for four days—boldly daring to step out from the crowd and be noticed.

For the past few days, I’ve been volunteering at a College Summit Workshop. College Summit is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “transform the lives of low-income youth by connecting them to college and career.” It was founded on the belief that every student deserves the chance to go to college. Through them, at-risk kids from at-risk communities all around the country are invited to stay on a college campus and work with volunteers to learn about financial aid and the college application process, craft a college application essay, help a college coach compile a list of possible schools to apply to, and grow in confidence that they can further their education.

My job has been as a writing coach to a small group of students—we call them peer leaders, because that’s what they are: leaders. They are daring to believe they can be more than a statistic. They are reaching for more than what their communities have told them they are capable of.

A funny thing happens over the days as I coach the kids. We hear stories of loss and trauma, violence and addiction, abuse and neglect. And we see resilience, strength, beauty. We watch kids of all different color, from diverse backgrounds and stories—we watch as they hug and lean on one another, laugh and cry together, lift each other up and celebrate the uniqueness of one another. As I coach these kids, a funny thing happens. I not only grow to believe in them and their beautiful hearts, but I am reminded to believe in myself also.

These kids teach me about acceptance, about love, about grace. And I begin to understand that our struggles are what make us human in each other’s eyes. I begin to understand once again how important it is to share our stories. This is the only thing that will help us see past skin color and invisible social barriers this world has imposed upon us: Sharing. We were created for each other. To share our stories.

On our last day together we have “closing circle.” The adults and kids join hands and form a circle. Anyone who wants to enter the circle to share words or acknowledgement does so. After that, we form two concentric circles. The volunteers and staff join hands and form a circle, facing out. All the kids join hands and form a circle around us. We stand, face-to-face, and the leader tells us to thank one another with only our eyes. No words. She talks us through this uncomfortable exercise.

“With your eyes, tell this person how thankful you are that they are here. Tell them how valuable they are, and what this weekend has meant to you.” After a time, she tells us to take a step to the left. We make our way slowly around the circle like this, looking into the eyes of each student.

This is how I come to be standing in front of him, this beautiful, sloe-eyed boy who towers over me. The exercise draws to a close and the leader says, “As the music fades, I want you to move toward the person in front of you in any way you are comfortable doing so.” Before I can even take a step he reaches for me. I feel small as the strength of his embrace wraps around me, consumes me. But he whispers gentle words in my ear—a blessing, his gratitude, his heart.

I could be holding one of my sons. It feels like I am.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess

Comments

  1. says

    Wow! What a powerful and intimate exercise you partook in, Laura. I’m not sure I could do that–I might run for the nearest exit! If I stayed around, I know it would help me to shed some layers of self-protection, that’s for sure! Thanks for always being such a compassionate teacher of others and letting your students touch and transform you as well, my friend!

  2. says

    Laura, what a precious opportunity to build into these young lives.
    I’m sure that you are blessed beyond belief at hearing their stories and being used to enhance their gifting.

  3. Sharon says

    That is an incredible story, Laura. Such a powerful moment of blessing. I so enjoyed reading about your involvement in this most worthy cause. And, as it always seems to happen in God’s kingdom, those of us who go to give something end up receiving even more than we ever anticipated.

    Love – it only grows more when it’s given away.

    GOD BLESS!

  4. says

    Laura, What a beautiful story! The exercise you described is such a good idea. Those words of affirmation will rest in the hearts of each person for a long time. I’m thanking God for the blessing you and the tall young man were to each other! A God moment for sure!!!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

  5. says

    Kids can teach us the most essential things in life that we often forget or take for granted. 🙂
    Looks like a fun event.

  6. Brittany Boyd says

    Hi Laura!

    Love this!!!! So happy someone was able to put into words what I have been trying to explain for so many years!! Thanks for being a part of College Summit this weekend.

    Kindest Regards,
    Brittany (the rap director)

    • says

      That’s a “cool beans check,” Brittany-with-the-beautiful-smile! It was my pleasure to serve these kids alongside you in the amazing work College Summit is doing. Many blessings to you as you carry that smile into a new chapter of life.

  7. says

    This goes straight to my heart! You say “this could be my son” – yet, that is what God calls us to be – spiritual mothers and fathers – to love the world like we love our children – and, oh, my friend, you do it so beautifully!

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