After completing the MVP Institute in October, I was quite confident about moderating conversations on racial and sexual discrimination. Shortly after, Brian and I were assigned to one of Sport in Society’s many Project Teamwork facilitations at the Point Webster School in Quincy, MA. Project Teamwork centers more around bullying than racial or sexual prejudice. The kids are in middle school and boy is it a different experience than talking to a room full of concerned adults. Many of them clearly know the “correct” answers and spit them out in the shortest possible form to avoid explicit genuine involvement. It’s nostalgic in a bizarre way. Connecting to the students on a basic level is easy. We ask them questions: they give us responses. The hard part is engaging them on a conversational level.
There are twenty-five students and I have yet to hear a disagreement between them. The MVP Institute spoiled me with heartfelt conversation stemming from a number of rational, emotional and personal perspectives on an issue that affects us all deeply. In the case of bullying, the kids seem almost desensitized to the topic. Thankfully there are a few who genuinely seem to care. One girl in particular has raised the issue of cyber bullying numerous times so it is clear that though we may not be getting through to a number of the kids, there are a few who certainly value the trainings. It has been an eye opening experience. I remember these sorts of classes when I was in school and how little I paid attention then. Now I understand the value of these conversations and wish I had heard more at that age. The raging chaos of hormones and developing social consciousness make it incredibly hard to know what values one stands for and how to actualize them, but with these conversations the seed of conscious thought is planted and slowly they will begin to choose for themselves what is and is not worth fighting for.