Niya is a sixth grader, who participates in both the Neighborhood Tutoring and Scholars programs here at FLOC. Niya’s favorite subjects in school are math and science, because of their real life applications. When asked what she likes the most about FLOC, she grinned and replied, “My math tutor, Nick! He always laughs at my jokes and encourages me to keep trying, even if I don’t get the answer right the first time.” FLOC’s tutoring program has also helped Niya to become more confident in the classroom; she’s often one of the first to raise her hand and try to answer a question.
The middle school Scholars program just completed a drama unit, which Niya also loved. “I’d like to become an actor, or singer… or a pianist!” she said. All of the sixth grade students wrote skits, and Niya created a story about a girl who was both a popstar and an undercover superhero. “I love everything about FLOC,” she said. “I hope I can come back every year, because I know it will help me get into college one day!”
(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator.)
If you attended this year’s annual Recognition Event and Empower Awards, you might remember learning of Foday’s hard work navigating the reading curriculum and the impressive growth he has shown. Or maybe you joined us at the 2014 Fred Taylor Scholarship Fund Dinner where you witnessed Foday’s sister get emotional upon hearing her brother’s surprise voiceover sharing how proud he was of her. I believe that in both these special moments and the everyday interactions, Foday shows us that his story is only just beginning…
For five weeks this summer, Foday participated in the high school Tell Your Story Writing Workshop Series, where he and his peers learned how to be their own best advocate through self-reflection, written expression, and storytelling. Foday is one of the quieter students in the bunch, but he showed up each and every week, ready to engage with the material and speakers and take full advantage of the opportunities to explore, write, and share his personal story.
The very first week, Joseph Price from the nonprofit organization, SpeakeasyDC, came to FLOC to provide the students with an introduction to the art of storytelling. Joe paired himself with Foday for the peer interview activity to find out the story behind his reserved demeanor. Foday talked for 10 minutes – no interruptions – and when the activity ended, Joe said to me “Foday has a great story. I hope he writes about it next week.” And when I checked in with Foday at the end of the night, he said he really enjoyed learning about “the different ways you could tell a story” and he felt “excited about the upcoming weeks of the workshop series.”
As weeks two, three, and four passed, Foday continually exemplified active listening and opened up during peer interviews. And when it came time to write, he was in his element. His quiet confidence radiated as he wrote stories about his past, present, and future. When week five finally rolled around, I couldn’t wait to see how Foday decided to reveal his final writing piece. Turns out, Foday connected his stories to form one and chose to share his work on this very blog.
I hope you will find Foday’s story below as impressive and inspiring as I do. He’s ‘going places’ and FLOC will be with him every step of the way.
“My Story” – as told by Foday
Growing up in a family of seven has been the best thing in my life. As a kid, my three sisters and I lived in a big house in Sierra Leone. Being the only boy in the family wasn’t easy; I always did things by myself even though sometimes I needed help. My parents depended on me the most and I also had to work harder. But no matter what, I wanted to do things successfully.
In the future, I have decided I want to work hard to help people in need. My family and my community motivate me to be successful. Seeing other families losing their loved ones due to incurable diseases or not being able to pay medical bills makes me very sad. If I can help my community and other people it would be a great benefit to others and I would feel fulfilled.
(Jessie Garrett is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).