A few months ago, I put out a request for readers to share stories of practical ways we can prepare students for adulthood. I was finishing up the manuscript for my new book, Artifical Maturity (set for release in June!), and wanted to include real-life examples from people around the world.
The response was absolutely overwhelming! I’m so thankful for everyone who took time to share ideas. There were so many more than could be included in one chapter of a book. But I wanted everyone to hear these great ideas. So here’s the plan: over the course of next year, I’ll share a story that someone submitted. I hope you find them as challenging and helpful as I did!
Here’s this week’s story:
I have been working with teenagers and young adults in a Gap Year program called KIVU Gap Year. Before this, I was the Area Director at Denver K-Life.
We believe immersion in the margins of society has matured, challenged, and fostered great leadership qualities in our youth. Our gap year program is based on this principle. We send students to downtown Denver for 10 weeks to work with urban organizations reaching out to the homeless and marginalized. When our students spend time looking into the eyes of the poor a few things begin to happen.
- They begin to see the larger scope of humanity outside of their suburban bubble. Their worldview widens.
- They find their true selves come out when they are placed in an uncomfortable situation where people are of different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Their character is revealed.
- They begin to see their own brokenness better when they share in the pain of those in poverty who do not hide their story. They realize that all of us share similar pains and that we all need each other to move through life.
Real briefly, this is a quote where one of our students was blogging and reflected on this idea. She was in this program last fall:
“If I could make one point to everyone reading this, it would be something like this: I wish you would look at your life – not from a biased standpoint – but really examine how you live. Do you like it? Are you comfortable all the time? Do you avoid things that make you uncomfortable? WHY?! Being uncomfortable is one of the best learning experiences anyone could ever offer you, and the thing is, it is completely your choice. You can always insulate yourself to whatever bothers you. But addressing it, and living in it for how ever long you have to, is completely rewarding. Notice i didnt say anything about it being easy, you don’t even have to like it. But start letting yourself experience the uncomfortable. This will be ALOT more present while I’m in Africa and Asia. But I wish I had taken the time to step out of my everyday to do different things in high school.” -Ashleigh, 19, Kivu Gap Year student, 2010-2011
Luke Parrott, Durango, CO
What can we do to push students out of their comfort zones and help them overcome artificial maturity?
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