I don’t want to forget this summer at St. Florian. It’s one that I want to remember. That may seem redundant, but to me remembering isn’t the act of not forgetting. It’s the act of purposely engraving events, people, and places in your mind to hopefully keep and treasure them for as long as possible. By writing this blog, I am remembering in a way.
I remember the first days back with St. Florian and the exhilaration that came when I noticed that students were filling pages with their stories. Sometimes after hearing the prompt they would begin to write feverously without my input and other times it took awhile to get started. We’d brainstorm ideas together. It wouldn’t take me long to respond with “Yes! Write that.”
Sometimes the kids were adamant that they had finished writing, but I’d use my reporter skills to ask them questions, to push them a little bit further. “We need some more details here,” I’d say.
I remember the laughter. Whether I was working with the littles or the middles, there was usually a belly-laugh to be had. Our stomachs would ache, but we couldn’t stop smiling.
I remember the time when a little girl called me ‘Miss Audrey’ when I sat down next to her and flashed a toothy smile at me. It felt like the world kind of shifted, as if I truly belonged there. It was the first time that one of the kids addressed me in that manner. It meant the world to me.
The same day one of the littles called me teacher and I didn’t agree with him right away. “Not really,” I said back. “Well basically,” he told me. That was that. Later in the day I thought about it more and believed him. After all, kids say exactly what they mean. Even though my life plans had recently shifted, I was still a teacher through and through.
I remember the day when I shared the story of the worst day of my life. It’s a wonder that I didn’t cry or shake from nervousness. The littles asked lots of questions and the middles related to my story. I remember a young girl who wrote about staying with her grandma too. A comment I distinctly remember was: “I like how confidently you shared your story.” Truth be told, I didn’t exactly feel confident, although I tried my best to be. I was vulnerable up there, but knowing I did a good job made me feel empowered.
I remember the time that the middles and the bigs came to Ball State. My favorite moment of that day was giving a campus tour. I mostly walked backwards, pointing to everything and telling them all the interesting facts I could remember, and answered their questions. That afternoon is one I won’t forget. They marveled at the rec, laughed when I showed them a ‘glorious’ parking lot, somehow managed to keep quiet as we walked through Bracken Library, and eagerly rubbed the nose of the famous Frog Baby.
I remember the last day at the Golden Corral celebration breakfast. I entered the restaurant with a fellow intern. A number of the kids hugged us. The interns who showed up ate mac and cheese even though it was nine o clock in the morning. Afterwards, we were shown a video of WISH TV after they helped St. Florian with a sweet new bus and some funds. A lot of kind words about the camp and our program were said.
I sat there remembering. I was sad that my time with the kids was over, but grateful that I had the opportunity in the first place. This may or may not be my last year interning with the Writers Center. It depends on what I decide to do after graduating from Ball State. I do hope that I’ll be able to return and will try my best to, but if not, I will always strive to remember.