Wow! I can’t believe I’m already starting my final week at Puente! This is heartbreaking to me. As I drove along the coast to the Puente offices, my mind was whirling at the experiences I’ve had and how fast the time has flown. I am interested in how it will feel to be “Back Home Again in Indiana.”
Week 3 at Puente was SUPER BUSY, which is why there was no post about last week. Several of the Puente youth began working on summer school courses either as credit recovery or to get a jump-start on their senior year courses. Every morning I began the day with one of my new students, Daisy, who came early to Puente to get some individualized tutoring time and also because she focuses better first thing in the morning. We spent our time from 9 until around noon working through her online US History-2 course taking breaks to read The Fault in Our Stars, which Daisy is reading for her senior year English course. (All of the students at Pescadero High School have summer reading assignments to complete as the first grade of the semester for their new English class the following year.) Daisy, the person, is very different than Daisy, the student as viewed by her transcript. Daisy is so smart and talented. She has so much to offer and a lot of skills that will work in her favor. However, she has had to face many challenges that other students can’t fathom. Daisy worked through both her online course and her summer reading by reading aloud to me all morning long. My job was to help her understand new vocabulary and the implications of the historical events about which she was learning. We had a fabulous time together. A couple of morning I got grossly sunburned, too, because the air temperature is so cool that when the sun is on you, you never feel hot. As I result, I couldn’t feel myself getting sunburned. I have a pretty awesome line from my cropped running pants.
After about three hours of work time, Daisy and I would drive around to the main street in Pescadero and get lunch. I treasured these lunches because this is when I got to see even more of Daisy as a person beyond the scope of Daisy as student. Plus, Daisy knows EVERYONE in Pescadero. It was fun to hear Pescadero stories and meet new people that Daisy knows in the community. Daisy also liked giving me the unofficial “locals” tour of the ins and outs of Pescadero from a non-tourist perspective. After lunch, we’d head back to Puente and the other youth would start trickling in from their summer work assignments. As they trickled in, I would begin helping them on their studies as well. Students were working on courses that ranged from English 9-1 to Health, and Algebra and Geometry. And all of the students had summer reading assignments to attend to.
In addition to helping the youth, I would also do other smaller tasks for other Puente staff as they requested as well. One errand I got to run on Thursday was picking up the vegetables from Potrero Nuevo Farm. I did this the previous week with Ben, but this week I got to drive the pick-up truck and get the veggies all by myself. I had a blast! Who knew I’d get so excited over driving a pick-up truck full of the freshest produce around! I had the truck almost totally loaded at the farm when two of the owners and farmers rode up on their bikes. They introduced themselves and finished helping me load. They were surprisingly young, not more than 10 years older than me. Their age really made me appreciate them even more for owning and operating a sizeable farm and donating so much of what they grow to organizations like Puente—all in their mid-30s!!! They were really lovely people, and I am so glad I had the chance to meet them even for only a moment.
The farmers' market this week wasn’t as busy as the previous two weeks, but Michelle (another volunteer from over “the hill”) and I were ready with children’s activities if there were kids. There were surprisingly few this week, but our activities focused on potential and kinetic energy. We taught the terms and their definitions in simple language and then demonstrated with yo-yos and yoga. We had the set up for a rubber band launching contest, but not enough kids were at the market this week, so that can be saved for another day. The yo-yos and yoga were a hit, though!
This post seems so short considering all that I did last week, but because most of my time was spent giving the students my attention for tutoring, there isn’t much more to say here. It was an awesome week, and I’m so happy to be here for one more, though sad that it’s only one more.
I briefly spoke to one of my colleagues in Indy this morning. He used to live in Colorado, and he asked me, “Don’t people just seem happier out there?” He’s absolutely right. People do seem happier and healthier out here than they do in the Midwest, which is interesting because supposedly people from the Midwest are some of the friendliest people in the country. To echo Mike’s sentiments, I noted that I had to buy a ¼ sheet cake for an event at Puente last week. I had to go to four different grocery stores before I found one with a bakery let alone a bakery that made sheet cakes. In general, people live such healthier lifestyles out here. It’s no wonder Mike and I notice a correlation between health and happiness. I have found such peace out here; it will be hard to leave this place behind.