So I volunteer as a mentor for an organization called Minds Matter. The organization helps inner-city high school kids with their educational aspirations. Since September I have been meeting once a week with Jamila, a high school senior, and guiding her through the college application process. We have successfully applied to about 15 colleges and she has had interviews with Princeton, Dartmouth, and Cornell. Now we are waiting for responses and applying for scholarships. Lately, her AP prep classes have taken up her time on the weekends, but we still talk on the phone once a week and I help her with her essays online.
She called my last night at 10pm, which is late for her, and I flipped open my phone in a hurry thinking something was wrong.
“J, you alright”?!
“Hiiiii” she sung into the phone. She’s from the Bronx, but has a bit of a southern drawl she picked up from her grandmother. “I wanted to read my poem to you. Our teacher asked us to write a poem about ourselves.”
As she was reading I couldn’t stop thinking about how important she had become to me. I was so proud of her; felt so privileged that she would call me specifically to share that with me. “My god”, I thought, “Is this what is feels like to be a mother?” “This giddy, unconditional joy for the smallest things your child accomplishes?” She finished reading and I couldn’t control my praise. I thought about the short time that I have known her and all she has accomplished. I imagined all the things I know she will accomplish in the future and all the people that will come in and out of her life. I imagined her on the other end of the phone…and saw myself. She is just starting her life and it is inevitable that my small part will one day be forgotten, but even then I will be here pulling for her…for me.
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