Neighborhood Opportunity Network

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Back at it

Posted by sebastianbrown on January 25, 2010

So, after having taking a three week break–beginning with last month’s blizzard–the Nob Hill support group met again two Wednesdays ago to continue planning for its very own ESOL class. Unfortunately, being the only three residents to show up, Juventina, Melvis and Rosario were obviously disappointed at the apparent loss of momentum that we had been building for weeks before the break. After an honest yet tough conversation about the future of the group, including the importance of the group itself assuming more and more ownership over whatever it ends up doing, we were back on track. We decided that we would once again plan a door knocking for the following week to invite neighbors to an open house on the launching of the ESOL class.

But once again this past Wednesday night, 7pm came around and Melvis and Rosario found themselves stood up. Even in being aware of the valid reasons for the other members’ absence–Melvis personally called a fellow member to find out why he couldn’t make it–they still were left feeling somewhat deflated and let down. They had skipped their weekly church service only to show up to an empty room. After explaining to them that I not only understood their frustration, but shared it, we decided that while it was too late to still go door knocking, we should still have something to show for our meeting. Melvis suggested that we go ahead with making the flier about the open house/celebration that we’ve planned to hold as a kick off the week before the beginning of the ESOL. So we did.

But it soon became obvious that this wasn’t going to be such a simple task as you might imagine. First, neither Melvis or Rosario knew how to turn on the computer. Then, with them sitting beside me at separate computers, we went through the basics of opening a document, saving it, changing the font, shifting text position, using Word Art (which their son showed me how to use), etc. Then, even with the basics covered, we still had to come up with an agenda for the open house before we could think of a catchy title. In having them throw out all their ideas for what they saw the open house as potentially achieving, it became clear that they see what we’re doing as far more than just starting our own ESOL class–which in and of itself is a worthy goal. In their own words: “You are invited by your neighbors to come and express your ideas for how we can best use the community center as a way of addressing our biggest personal and community problems. We’ve had the idea of starting an ESOL class and would love to have you help us do it, but if you have your own idea, come so we can do that too!” After making final adjustments and edits, I looked to the couple to see what they thought. Together they said: “Beautiful!”

While instead of taking a few minutes, the simple task of putting together a flier took over 2 hours. But seeing how proud Melvis and Rosario were to be able to claim the flier as a product of their own hard work reminded me of just how important moments like these are in the development of one’s personal confidence, and eventually their capacity to take charge of their lives.

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