New York

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

August 29, 2013

Well I managed to drag my tired ass out of bed this morning for yet another eventful day! Last night I couldn’t fall asleep for the life of it. Luckily, I’ve adapted to the noises of the city rather quickly, so those haven’t been bothering me at night, but I guess my subconscious decided it would be great to feel tired and lazy all day.

Despite my want to sleep more, today was incredibly humbling. For the service aspect of Orientation Week, Grace, Jackie and I volunteered at Karen’s Daycare Center in the South Bronx this morning. Let my clarify this quickly: although I am living in the Bronx, I’m in a good area. The South Bronx is closer to what we would consider the “stereotypical Bronx,” and the South South Bronx even more. This is where it gets worse, with the projects and bad activity. Anyway, this daycare center is actually in someone’s home. We arrived around 10:00 A.M. and the children were watching an educational program on the television. Jackie and I were upstairs with about 9 kids, and Grace was downstairs with about 7.

After reading tons and tons of picture books and making different animal noises, we pulled out markers and paper for coloring time. This is where the experience became really humbling. The two older girls (5th grade and 1st grade) sat down near me and began talking about their families. One girl announced that her mother had failed the test to get her GED and is now at home studying to try again. She doesn’t have a daddy anymore, but she likes that because she gets to sleep in bed with mom at night now. She also explained that sometimes her mother puts bronzer on her face to look like her, and it makes her giggle. I thought it would be interesting to ask, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” At first, the little girl said a baker, then followed with a taxi driver or a McDonalds worker. The fifth grader told her that while taxi drivers make a lot of money, she shouldn’t do that, and only people who didn’t graduate high school or go to college work at McDonalds. The first grader was left puzzled.

It’s just crazy the way the world works. These children are no different than I was at birth, but are provided with so many less opportunities. I attend a private college and although I am dreading the 6 month mark after I graduate when I’ll receive my student loan payback letter, I’m pretty confident that I’ll have the ability to make those payments on time. When we got back to our house, Jackie was reading a newspaper article about a bar in the Hamptons that charges somewhere around $30,000 for a 6 liter bottle of alcohol, and neither of us could stop thinking about how much that $30,000 would be able to change the lives of these children.

In other, less important news, I’ve become a fan of naps again. As my freshman year roommate can agree, I couldn’t go a day without a nap. I grew out of them for a while, but this week I’ve hardly made it through a day without one! City living is exhausting…

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