“Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant”.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
For the past two days our group has worked both effectively and diligently with the Upward Bound youth here at Berea College. The Upward Bound program is based on giving fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college. It centers on serving students of low-income households that have tremendous academic talent and possess the desire to succeed.
Our position within the program was to facilitate exercises that center on personal development and understanding purpose. These exercises we completed have been from two insightful books. One being Work on Progress and the other, Business Model You. Each literary work provides useful activities that stimulate both critical thinking and the opportunity to recognize talents and achievements. Although, these exercises are mainly for college students and people already active in their professions, the high school students we conducted thrived in each activity.
Together, our group observed their growth over two days. We can honestly say that youth are somewhat underestimated. The reason for this is because at times we as people may have the assumption that a high school student is too young and lacks the maturity to comprehend specific teachings and therefore uses them to no avail. This illogical reasoning is untrue. In just a short period of time with these students there has been remarkable achievement and appreciation for such learning.
It is not learning merely in a lecture way but rather with personal engagement. The quote mentioned above symbolizes our learning as facilitators. Passion is the intangible feeling that drives us as human beings. When youth are passionate about what they are doing they tend to make understanding of even the most complex ideas. Through this simple appreciation, students are able to learn more and the teachings that once were of boredom become meaningful.
The beginning of week three of the EPG program has been filled with, already, great learning experiences. If there would be a specific title for our duration in the region of both West Virginia and Virginia it would be “A significant appreciation for agriculture and sustainability”.
Our Tuesday began with the sustainability concept, which was a highlight of Williamson, West Virginia. Its actions consisted of using nonprofit organizations to form an outreach to help the local people within the area by creating marathons to promote health and daily exercises.
Also we learned more about solar energy through the use of solar panels to ultimately preserve the environment. Eric Mathis, a Williamson native, historian, and social entrepreneur taught our program this and further educated us about the positives of using the alternate form of energy.
To our observations their work has proved to be very beneficial to not only the towns people but to other citizens in neighboring counties. It is amazing to see these efforts and we appreciate their activism in the local economy.
Day two was an adventure to the beautiful highlands of Abingdon, Virginia. A town based heavily on sustainability and agriculture to promote a local atmosphere and appreciation unlike any other. We met notable farmers who were entrepreneurs in their distinctive fields.
Anthony Flaccavento, a social entrepreneur that has grown his own organic farm and is famously known for his remarkable rich agriculture motives in the Virginia region for decades. He taught us to renew our appreciation for farming and within any of our career efforts we should seek to improve the lives of others rather than our own. These were deep words from a man who has spent his entire lifetime to enrich the lives of others through harvesting organic crops and being an ambassador to his fellow townspeople.
Here is some food for thought: Whenever you venture to a grocery store to buy any vegetables or produce of some sort think about where the item came from. Don’t merely be close-minded and wonder well just from a farm, but rather think deeply about the efforts and sacrifices it took for farmers to make this possible. By doing this you’ll have a greater understanding and further appreciation for agriculture and sustainability.