It’s my third day at NorthLight and it has been absolutely wonderful. It’s a school for students labeled “academic failures” and this has been a place of hope and inspiration. The teachers’ dedication and love for their students were evident in the way they would spend time with them, sit with the students in the canteen and joke and laugh with the students. When I was talking to Mrs Chua, the Principal of NorthLight- the vision for 2010 was for students to be running to school and walking home. And I’ve seen that vision. Our school is like a large playground, one student said- what a beautiful picture.
I’ve done about 10 interviews so far in NorthLight and love is key here- and that is education.
Monday, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Mr Lawrence Lien in Singapore. He’s the CEO of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Center and he had met Jody Kretzmann in Chicago last May or June. What was the most exciting was learning about his experience as an Eisenhower fellow and his interest in bringing Asset-Based Community Development to Singapore. In a country where we are used to new buildings and roads popping up in the blink of an eye, this was so new and refreshing. We want to get people to own their neighborhood and community. Coming from Peru, where the sense of community was so great, I just had a whirlwind of thoughts. How do we create ownership in Singapore? Is that even possible? We had developed so quickly that we didn’t need each other- was that what was key? But at the same time, I have seen the spirit of passion and heart and pride in my own peers, in the many people that have come to Suraj and I in Amber wanting to right a wrong they saw. These thoughts will probably be on my mind for a while. How can we work with school and communities to get communities to own their school, feel proud of each neighborhood, the people, food and places?