Sometimes I wonder why I give up the ONLY evenings that my husband doesn’t work, to sit in a cold room and entertain some young people… Life is fast paced and taking time out to create an environment where young people can “be” is extremely sacrificial to the team of volunteers I work with and it is also often not valued.
Then I see their faces light up when I push through the awkward conversation to show them I am interested in their lives….
Where I’m from, the community value youth work and are very proactive in providing services and spaces for young people (I know we have it good!). The rewards gained from youth work aren’t found through the approval of the community around us. The rewards are found in the interaction we receive as the young people learn that there are people out there who willingly give up their precious time because they care.
Fast paced life is truly advancing our lives, we now have access to things undreamt of 50 years ago. However this fast paced life is making us all miss something vital – relationships need time to grow and cross generation interactions cannot happen overnight – they need time to forge. They can’t happen in an instant, and they shouldn’t be put to the bottom of the pile. It is through the relationships that we have with the generations above us that we learn the world is bigger than we perceive. These relationships teach us that people have lived before, and that we still have a lot to learn.
Over the past few weeks I have been re-establishing rules and boundaries in the youth groups I work in. It has been tough, often I have felt like the strict teacher or the evil step mum. However in all of my nagging, telling off and correcting, I have been able to teach them that the sole reason I give up my time is because I care for them.
Tonight there were over 50 young people through the doors. The same doors that I hurriedly unlocked at 6.45pm, and then locked again at 10.15pm. Not all of them said “Hello”, but I was able to continue in my journey of making them aware that the world is bigger than they think.
This week was a good week. The place was tidied by the young people before they left without me nagging, songs with swear words were turned off without even a glance from me in their direction, and I was invited into conversations that mattered to them.
I am content in the knowledge that I have not rushed, and that the time that we have sacrificed is paying off.