rainstorms and birthday cake

Last Friday included some of the most precious moments for me as the YONA-Sistema coordinator. The day began as normal with me making sure all of the students were accounted for. During our snack time I was informed that the following day one of our students, William, was turning eight. So, once we were settled into the classroom, we began our choir session with “Happy Birthday.” William was very bashful about the whole thing, and kept his grinning face and red cheeks down as his classmates sang to him at the top of their lungs.

When it came time for our break, we all rushed outside to enjoy the sunshine. The kids sprinted in every direction on the playground to climb, swing, and kick around a soccer ball. However, our sunshine didn’t last for long. Just minutes after we were out the school doors, a huge raincloud came overhead. It began to spit, and then pour rain. But the YONA students were undeterred. They began to dance, giggle, and sing. As I watched them I thought to myself that this is true, genuine joy. And I couldn’t bring myself to stop them. Nobody was frowning or upset. So I started to sing and dance too! Our fun in the rain couldn’t last forever, but I have to say, as the coordinator I’ve never had a more difficult time dragging kids inside than I did on Friday during that rain storm.

When we finally got ourselves inside and dried off, a surprise was waiting for us in the school atrium. William’s mom had delivered a birthday cake complete with a number 8 candle. We sang again, and William made a wish as he blew out his candle. He then graciously and served all of his classmates, the teaching artists, and then ate a piece himself. It was such a beautiful moment watching William’s maturity in hosting his friends. There were a few pieces of cake left when everyone had eaten, and I suggested that William save the last bites to share with his family. We covered the cake and continued with the last half hour of the day.

A few minutes later, I passed the school janitor in the hallway of the school. He said to me, “Amanda, I can’t believe it! William has given me the rest of his cake! Isn’t that nice of him?” I was completely speechless. This moment completely humbled me, and has given me a new level of respect for our YONA-Sistema students. If you ever think that the future looks dismal, you really should stop in to the YONA program and see the amazing young people who are learning and growing every day into the next generation. I’m not nervous at all.

Post by Amanda - YONA Coordinator & Educational Outreach Assistant
Photos by Carmyn - Community Relations Coordinator  

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