I have lots of big things to update you all on!
First, CHOICES. As I’ve touched on briefly in many of my posts, I spent most of my Thursday & Friday this past week delivering the CHOICES program at a nearby high school, Hamilton. (I have many ASU friends that went there and even an Alpha Phi sister who is completing her student teaching currently there, so we got to catch up both days during lunch– a nice surprise!)
You can learn more about CHOICES here. Unlike Junior Achievement, another volunteer program where I’ve gotten to “teach” elementary school, CHOICES is more like motivational speaking for 9th graders. You lead the kid through workshops instead, sharing along the way your personal experiences to help hone in the point– the choices you make now, allow you to choose your best future. You need to practice self discipline & make the good choices, particularly the choice to go to college.
The Chandler-area program is led by Hal Wochholz, a truly outstanding individual. He reminded me SO much of Grandpa! The funny, old-timer stories, the rebel attitude, the Navy-vet background. I taught my first class alongside him and felt truly honored, right from the get-go. I could just immediately tell that he was a very high-quality guy and witnessing him deliver the program was having an impact on me, inspiring me to make even better choices than I already am, so I knew he having an impact on the students as well. Afterward, I looked him up online and learned even more about his inspiring background. Please do take a few minutes to read about him, here!
Over both days, I spoke to over 200 students. My class sizes ranged from 32 to 70 students. I absolutely loved it! From the moment I started talking, to the very last question, I was exhilarated. I don’t even think I was breathing the entire time I talked because I just had so much to say and was urging them with all of my being to listen because I wanted so badly for my message to click in their brains. And I could see it happening! I could see an example I gave or a comment I had, go through their minds and something change in their eyes and literally, like little screws turning back in their heads. It was incredible! By the end of each two-hour class, I would feel just emotionally, mentally, physically exhausted; but then new students would walk in and I just knew that I had to give it my all for them, too, so that they would walk out of the class understanding the opportunities they have to secure the best life. I don’t think I’ve ever been more passionate about something, ever. I think I tried harder to have an impact on them than I’ve tried for anything in my life, honestly. I would quit my job in a heartbeat & do that every day for free, if it were a possibility. I literally just can’t put into words how cool it was. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
The kids all had to do surveys, rating the program & the instructors, and I’m really excited to get my feedback. At the end of the month, I’ll be delivering CHOICES to 9th graders at Chandler High School, and i want to make sure I do everything I can to improve for these next students! I want to deliver CHOICES forever & ever and become a bigger part of the organization.
That leads me onto my next volunteering endeavor– being a Dog Caretaker for AZ Rescue.
Yikes. Saturday did not exactly go as planned– the plan being to take Sunny (a gorgeous, Lab-mix sweetheart!) to go shopping at Petsmart, then on a hike, and then to AJ’s for some people-watching & rehydrating.
First though, Sunny was adamant about not wanting to get in the car. Okayyyy. Well if I weren’t a dog, I wouldn’t want to get in the car either, I decided! So off we walked toward South Mountain. We were both annoyed/scared by the noisy cars since we were on a busy road so we turned into a park, but she didn’t like that either, because she didn’t like being so out in the open, surrounded by the giant park space. Then we found a neighborhood and she laid in every other front yard because she loves grass. Then we continued toward South Mountain, but all of a sudden she got very scared & upset. She wouldn’t move & her tail was between her legs, so I sat down in the middle of the sidewalk with her & sung her songs, and gave her some belly rubs, and told her stories. I kept looking around, but I couldn’t figure out what it was that suddenly upset her so much. After about 15 mins she was still freaked out. So then I started to freak out a bit that she wouldn’t calm down. Then she took her harness off; I put it back on; she escaped out of it; repeat, repeat, repeat. So then I got super freaked out because I was worried she was about to bolt away or something and plus I didn’t even know how to get her back to the clinic a mile away, if she didn’t have a harness/leash on! So ever so slowly we moved like sloths back to the clinic and finally got there, a little over an hour after we first met. We were in the clinic .5 seconds before she Houdini-ed her way out of the harness again and bolted toward a poodle, her tail FINALLY wagging again. Apparently she just wanted friends?
I felt really bad about bringing her back so soon. I called my mom crying, because I feel like Sunny was disappointed that she got “jipped” on her Saturday outing. I was worried she was all excited waking up that morning about her play date and that she was now sitting in her kennel crying too because she came back so soon. My mom said that Sunny didn’t know how long she was going to be gone for, so she probably wasn’t sad she came back after an hour. I was sad all day. I couldn’t get over it. I just feel like I let her down immensely and that I hadn’t been a deserving enough dog caretaker for her.
Finally today, I knew I needed to rectify the situation, so I emailed AZ Rescue and asked if I could have Sunny again next Saturday. I want very badly to make up for our bad experience together, with a fun new one. Since I saw how much she loved seeing a poodle friend when we got back, I am planning a doggie play date for her. Then we should also have time to just hang out at my apartment so she can lay on my couch, all comfy, and get a solid amount of belly rubs in. I have high hopes that it will go better this time. Keep your fingers crossed for me! I want us to spend the full four hours together, and I want her tail to wag the entire time, just like it had at first when we were together yesterday. I really want it to work out. Sunny deserves to have a perfect outing.
Those are the only major updates in my life. Sometime this week when I have less interesting updates, I’ll talk about some of the more mundane things going on that are related to my resolutions 🙂