Prior to working at the YMCA Chinatown last summer, sadly Chinatown was not one of the SF neighborhoods that I frequented on a regular basis. It tends to be incredibly busy and bustling and on the weekends is over run with tourists. However, after spending an entire summer working in this community I have a totally new perspective on this part of town and have such a deep appreciation for it's community and the YMCA there for sharing their families with me and teaching me the value of neighborhood organizations like the Y.
It was here that I taught my very own class of kindergartners, where we grew flowers, learned our ABC's, played games, visited the park and the library and where I went from student to teacher in a mere 8 weeks.
I love the families and the children that I met while working there, I loved my teen volunteers and the energy they had at recess with my little ones. I loved Friday field trips, our talent show and our end of the year party.
I loved getting to know a new neighborhood, feeling a connection with a place that before I avoided at all costs now and will forever hold such a special place in my heart.
Heading into the brand new YMCA on Friday I was overcome with excitement as I saw before me the giant mural that my students helped to create. Forever a piece of me and them lays in this place. Forever that first summer of finding my voice as an educator, stumbling over obstacles and learning how to overcome them will be represented in this building. One of the most important things I learned in my teaching program was that in order to be a successful teacher you must immerse yourself in the surroundings of your students and become a part of where they live, learn and grow. I am so lucky that I was able to do just that last summer.
I was also lucky enough to be there this past Friday while the sun was shining and the crowds were scarce. I took the opportunity to walk around and relish the sights, sounds and smells of Chinatown. There isn't a corner that hasn't been adorned in bright colors and intricate architectural detail. Every shop window is filled with an endless array of goods.
The park was being enjoyed by families, people on their lunch break and furry friends chasing balls.
Perfect day for a stroll through the garden.
I loved visiting with my Y co-workers and getting excited for summer to begin. With one summer under my belt I feel more confident in my approach but the butterflies are still there. One thing is for certain though, I feel connected to the neighborhood where my students live, I know where the local library is, where the parks are, I know parents, grandparents aunts and uncles, I know the students from last summer and I know that for 8 weeks out of this year I will be exactly where I am supposed to be with my kiddos at the Y.
Hope you've all had a wonderful and relaxing weekend, and remember to take time to step outside of your comfort zone and discover something or some place new, you never know how it will impact your day or your heart.
xoxo- miss v