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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
And now, a word from our teenager 
15th-Apr-2010 08:56 am
Elayna - Oct08
The following was written by Elayna, to explain exactly why she wants to go to Explo so much, and why she'll be working to raise donations over the next couple of weeks:

Hi, everyone! My name is Elayna, and Explo Summer Program is very important to me. In the past, I’ve done things as beginner courses that later turned out to be things I really loved to do. For example, I learned that things I never thought I’d like or be good at -- like hip-hop dance, latin dance, cooking with mysteriously vague recipes, and songwriting -- I actually was good at (I also learned about some things, like karate and playing guitar, that I was not so good at).
            This year, I’m trying out some more new things I’ve never really studied much before, more academic than the others; Criminal Psychology is the one that stands out the most. I’ve been interested in the human brain for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been wondering what goes on inside the heads of “bad people” since about that long as well. And, provided we work up the money to send me there, I may actually find out! Sure, I could probably ask some people that know about it… but I want to study it for myself, so I can understand it better, rather than a few people sitting me down and just saying what they know. I’m also excited about the other course: Mythology. I’ve been into myths since I was in elementary school, but I’ve never had the chance to study as much as I’d like to. Until now, anyway.
            It’s also an amazing social environment. I automatically feel safe with the people I meet there, even if I don’t know anything about them. At school, when I meet brand-new people, I’m nervous, cautious, and paranoid. But at Explo, I feel more secure with people. When I see people for the first time, I actually feel brave enough to walk up and start a conversation without worrying about the usual things I worry about. At school, when I discovered that I liked girls, I was scared of each and every person, worrying constantly about that secret. But within three days of being at Explo, I told someone. And they took it so calmly! It was as if I had told them my favorite color or something. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but it sure did then. Also, I used to have a bit of stage fright when it came to singing. But after singing in front of a group of people from Explo, I never get nervous about it anymore. I just think about what happened there: people smiling, waiting excitedly to hear what I was about to sing, ready to listen to each word, each note… and then, outside of Explo, I just pretend that whatever “audience” I have is them!
            It took quite a bit of writing, making, thinking, and explaining to get the money the past two years, and I’m ready to do just as much of that this year… perhaps more ready than the past two years. I’m more excited than I was before about Explo! I’ll get to meet even more new friends, reunite with the ones I made the past two years, study things I’m really eager to learn about, and go away from home for longer than a week: for the first time ever! I’ve never been to overnight camp before… I was always a day student the past two years. I’ve been away from my parents before, but I was always with my grandparents, or a friend’s house, or some other relative… it’s not the same as studying and eating and sleeping all at the same place, with someone I’m only just meeting when I get there. I’m honestly really excited to experience that.
            So, there’s my reason for wanting to go so badly! If you guys can help me get there, that would be amazing and awesome. Thank you!





Comments 
15th-Apr-2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
(Also, I should have noted that the intro text was written by yendi, as 'song's at a conference today).
15th-Apr-2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
*nods* I spent four summers at CTY, which I think of as being sorta parallel, and it was a mind-blowingly important component of who I was for years and years. Even now, although I no longer identify myself primarily as a CTYer, it was in so many ways the foundation of who I am as an adult. I am UTTERLY IN FAVOR of making this sort of experience, both the academics and the social environment, available to other kids.
16th-Apr-2010 01:49 am (UTC)
Hahaha, I just wrote about this below! Except I'm a staffer there now. What site did you do? I was 4 years at Carlisle, and now I work at Lancaster.
16th-Apr-2010 12:06 pm (UTC)
I went to Lancaster one year, and then spent three at the campus formerly known as Clinton...
16th-Apr-2010 01:48 am (UTC)
I spent 4 summers at an academic residency program quite like Explo, except mine was called CTY. It was completely life-changing, and I mean that in the most serious way, too. I'm also gay, and CTY was the very first place I was comfortable being out. I received both first kisses there, one from a boy, and then my first girl-kiss, which is the one that really stands out in my memory.

I work as a staff member at CTY now (referred to as RA, because the kids live in dorms), and it is quite literally my dream job. I get to work with awesome, smart people, take care of 14 teen girls for 3 weeks, and see them grow into wonderful, self-assured adults, after entering as kids. I also get to see all the returners rebuild their utopian community and introduce all the young newbies to everything that CTY means. EVERYONE feels safe there. We demand it. I run an LGBT discussion group twice a week during activity period, and the fact that I was given the opportunity to discuss gender identity and sexual identity with people of this age group makes me so proud. If I can help 1 girl or boy out of the closet, either as gay, trans, or as an ally each summer, I feel like CTY is making the world a better place.

Elayna, unfortunately, I don't know how much I can do for you, because I am a very very poor college student. Living in NYC is incredibly expensive, so most of my money goes to pretty much keeping a roof over my head and feeding myself. But if a little extra cash ever comes my way, it's yours. Because I get it. If I wind up not being able to contribute, I'll be really sad, but please know that I'll be rooting for you all the way. The fact you have the opportunity to experience something as magical as this is is fucking fantastic. I hope you get your every wish and more. :)
30th-Apr-2010 05:15 am (UTC)
Elena, sorry I don't have any money to donate, but I wish you the very best of luck! I also have an interesting book to recommend for you: "Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist" by Richard Rhodes.
30th-Apr-2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
(I'm here via swashbucklr.)

Elayna, I'm sorry I don't have any money to give you, but I spent a summer at ESP and it changed my life too.

I hope you have a truly excellent summer!
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