This semester has been a roller coaster for a number of reasons — one of the biggest being that it is my last semester of college. With the looming threat of graduation and senioritis, topped with a nasty case of the spring-semester fever, at many times it was difficult to really care or feel any emotion or motivation towards anything.
Except for working at Desert Hills. Needless to say we had a rocky start, but by the end I didn’t want to leave. Working with kids in mental health centers was something I had wanted to do since my own stay in a treatment center five years ago. I knew the problems facing youth in these centers one of the largest being absolute boredom. It was a dream come true to be able to write and work with these kids and an even bigger dream come true to know that they enjoyed what we did.
Several of the girls we worked with expressed thanks for us coming in to see them and many more hoped for us to come back and work with them again. It was tough letting go and them asking us to stay only made it harder.
But aside from the facility work, I don’t think this course this semester was really as effective as I had hoped. Our course started off rockier than our time at Desert Hills did, since our plans for the semester had to completely change after we learned we couldn’t work with YDDC. We were scrambling to find a population to work with and blend two groups with completely different ideas of what we wanted to do as well as introducing a whole new project entirely. Just trying to find a way to get our service learning project started made the rest of the honors class seem irrelevant. I personally fell behind on my blogs due to not really having anything to write about, and when I did it was a matter of splitting 3 service learning days into 8 blog posts. Our projects themselves also greatly veered off the path that last semester set us up to follow, since we were no longer working with an incarcerated population, but a mentally ill one (although if you asked the girls they would probably say they felt like they were in jail). This semester seemed more focused on learning how to teach and how to be effective in a classroom setting with disruptive students. The class was no longer focused on incarceration, but lesson planning and teaching.
And so while I enjoyed working with the students and being able to finally do the work I’ve been wanting to do for five years, I’m not sure how effective our Locked Up course was based on how it was outlined to be back in August or even at the beginning of the semester in January. Still, I am grateful for the opportunity.