When I Grow Up...
It can be so much fun to ask a child what they want to be when they grow up. You never can be sure what will come out of their mouths.
Recently, I asked a couple of our middle school students what they want to be when they grow up. What I ended up with was two girls in the same grade at the same school with similar but opposite answers. When I asked the first girl she responded quickly. “Doctor. That’s what my mom tells me.” I asked if that’s what she wanted too. “I want to be a teacher.” I asked another girl separately what she wanted to be. “I want to be a doctor but my mom says it will take too much time away from being at church and with my family so maybe I’ll be a nurse.”
With each girl we talked about how when you're in 7th grade you have time to dream and change your mind and consider a lot of possibilities for your future. We talked about working hard in school now to keep lots of possibilities open and that if you change your mind tomorrow about what you want to be that’s okay too!
In a diverse community like Clarkston, you learn a lot about how different cultures work. American culture is very individualistic. You ask a child what they want to be and they will tell you what they want to be. But that’s not how the whole world works. In collective cultures like the ones these girls grew up in, you make decisions together. It’s not about the individual, but the whole.
One of the beautiful things about Youth Programs is that we get to have conversations with our youth about what they want and what their families want to find a place of peace between the two sometimes conflicting worlds the students live in at school and at home. There isn’t always a lot of work done with these kids to find a way to marry their home culture and the American culture they are growing up in now. In YP, we think it’s possible to embrace both cultures as a part of your identity.