Over the years, we have done a number of coaching exercises and games with the kids, both in groups and individually. Goals for these exercises have ranged form visioning a future to self awareness and self esteem. This year, the young people on our trip-Giselle, age 23 and Zoe, age 15 took the lead on this. They planned the excercise back in the US and prepped for it with admirable attention to detail.
All of the kids were asked to sit in a circle on the floor. They were each given a small box and stickers and markers to decorate their box. They were asked to write three dreams for their future on their box. After some initial giggling and self consciousness, they got to work. The chatter died away and soon they were working very seriously on the task.
For the next step, the children were given strips of paper with names of each child one a strip. They were asked to write one thing they admired or appreciated about that person. The only guideline was that they had to be positive. Imagine 15 brothers and sisters given this task and you will get the idea of the initial mirth the kids displayed when they first got these directions. They were soon writing away, very serious and thoughtful. Meanwhile, in the next room, Mr. Chuc and Thao were doing the same thing for each child. Their words are very important.
When the work was done, it was time to share. Going around the circle, each child told the group about their dreams. Many included what job they hoped to have. We could see the impact of our University visits with the older kids in this portion of the exercise. We had two future doctors, a fashion designer, a teacher- and many of the children hoped for success so that they could help poor people as adults. Then they read the words their peers had written about them, slow smiles began to spread on their faces, their eyes were happy and proud. They applauded each other after each reading, Betsy, Barb, and I teared up at the tenderness of this moment.
Zoe and Giselle told the kids that when they felt down or lonely, or were struggling in school, they should take the box out and read their dreams and all of the wonderful things the people in their lives had to say about them.