Lessons Learned

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Rachel Glasser has spent her past year at the Jackson Center as the  Coordinator for Youth Leadership and Education through the NC Campus Compact VISTA. As here time here comes to an end, she reflects here on what this place means to her:

When reflecting
on my time at the Jackson Center, two people come to mind: Toni
Morrison and Amy Poehler. Let me explain. Toni Morrison writes in
Song of Solomon, “You wanna fly, you gotta give up the shit
that weighs you down.” Similarly, Amy Poehler writes in her memoir
Yes, Please that, “I believe great people do things before
they are ready.” I can’t think of a better way to explain all
that comes to mind when I think back on my year at the Jackson
Center: all the challenges, all the tough moments of growth, and all
the wonderful experiences shared with neighbors and friends. I am so
thankful for the opportunity to teach and grow alongside my students
and the staff through the job, and for all the lessons I learned from
neighbors, colleagues, friends, and young people.

My students taught me the importance of
what another Jackson Center staffer terms “moral courage.” That
is, the courage to stand up and say something even though it may be
hard. I saw this in the classrooms when kids asked hard questions
about issues that we adults still haven’t figured out. I saw it
again during the evenings at Fusion Youth Radio, when our high school
youth spoke out about gender and harassment in schools, the need for
better mental health care, race in America, etc. (all discoverable on
the Fusion Youth Radio page!) They challenged me to be braver in
standing up for the things I believe in.

From the Community Mentor Team, our
neighbors and friends who share their stories with youth, I learned
generosity and courage: generosity to share your lives and memories
with young people, and courage to fight for a better world. I also
learned to never take myself too seriously, and to keep loving and
laughing no matter what happens. I’ll never forget a group of 2nd
graders teaching Ms. Gladys to dance after her oral history

Finally, my friends at the Jackson
Center. To say I am blessed to know you all is an understatement.
From you all I learned about Beloved Community, and about the
importance of continuing to try. (“As long as you’re struggling,
you know you are doing all right” –Harold Foster)

Thanks for everything, friends. You
haven’t seen the last of me! 🙂

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