Monthly Archives: September 2014

Bringing it Home

A recent update sent in by a member of our LEAPYEAR QUEST group, which finished in 2012.

Oh boy, where to start? Today’s my first day of the summer and it’s in the sixties with light showers and a hazy overcast. I’m not complaining. I’ve been taking it easy and rereading some Hemingway all day.

I say it’s the first day of Summer partly in jest but it is true in a sense. Yesterday I completed the last of my Summer time responsibilities of which there were many and I’m looking forward to ten days of relaxation before the next semester starts up.

Not sure when I last wrote to ya’ll but a lot of unexpected  opportunities have unfolded this year. I started at SUNY Geneseo not intending to matriculate any more than a year there. I wound up doing well and making good connections, however, and even finding myself enjoying the environment. Over winter break I applied for a grant from the college as well, and was awarded it. One stipulation was that I must be a returning student in the fall. The work the grant money would allow me to do was worth the commitment of another 3 months and now as the fall semester approaches I even find myself looking forward to it.

My summer was invested in a few things that kept me more than busy but only the grant work is really exciting so I’ll explain that some.  My proposal for the grant was to invest the money in building a foundation for a new educational non-profit in my home region.  I’ve been meeting with a team of local educators for almost a year and the grant gave me a chance to get it off the ground and watch it evolve.  This past week I held 4 information sessions around the region about our organization, Discover: Self-Directed Teen Learning (  It’s been a really surreal experience, presenting to parents and educators (including my much disliked 5th grade teacher) and having them really respect and appreciate and want to invest in what I’m trying to bring to the community.

The grant also brought me to two conferences over the summer, one on long island and one in western mass.  Both were on alternative education and both were great places to glean new ideas and make new connections.  Now I’m back home and have given the series of market-research/community outreach sessions proposed by the grant.   I’m excited to take the next steps in this entrepreneurial process and see what these seeds grow into. At the same time it’s all very surreal.

I remember having to sit down during first retreat while reciting my Rilke poem. That’s how bad my anxiety was a few years ago. And I remember one time M made a comment about my natural skill as a leader and how I scoffed at her misinterpretation.  But apparently there was something in me that she could detect, despite my own naivety or self-doubt. And it’s just so crazy to think that a few supportive people along the way have given me the chance to sit here, nearly 22 years old, and feel good, finally about who I am and what I’m doing in the world.

There’s still a lot of big questions of course. And sometimes I’m not so enthusiastic about the work that I’m doing and the responsibiity of it and being in western new york so damn always.  Sometimes I get downright blue about it all in fact, and miss the care-free life I had not so long ago. Sometimes I want to mourn my own youth, you know? But then I realize the folly in doing so, eventually anyway, and before long I’m celebrating instead.

I remember writing you all an email from Bolivia that went along the lines of “I want to go back to western new york and bring educational empowerment to teens in my home region.” Well here I am, making it happen. And if that’s not worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.

It’s funny how many unsure steps still bring us to our destination.