The Journey Continues…

I considered our 2011-12 fraternal year my best year. The bond I created with a few of those young bros was amazing. Because some of these young men had more troubled backgrounds than guys I’ve previously brought into the bond, I opened myself up a lot more.  With these guys, I found that our struggles were similar; not the same, but painfully similar.  I knew that the only way I could connect with them is if I open myself up and reveal some of my own boyish mistakes and even challenges I encounter up until this very day.  Because of this, I believe we bonded on a much deeper level than I had with any other group of young men before.  I kicked it with them like a real big brother should with his little brother(s)–occasional rough-housing, laughing and joking, teaching, leading.  The bond that I created with these guys still lasts until this day.  We call/text each other weekly, still go on trips together (most recently an Atlanta Braves game and a trip to Six Flags).  Never would I again in this life, have another year as I did in this particular year, or so I thought.

The 2012-13 school year has officially come to a close and as I reflect on our journey with a new set of young bros (every bro I had during the 2011-12 school year matriculated on to the high school which means I began this school year with a completely new set of pupils), I feel this is one of my best years I’ve had, if not the best.  With each new group of young men comes a new set of challenges and experiences for them, of course, but it’s always a learning experience for me.  I don’t think I bonded with this group as well as I did with the previous group, though.  I’m not even remotely disappointed about that.  Relationships and bonding take time, a long time. It’s not an overnight process or even a one-year process.  I’ve only spent one year with this group so far, and I’ve been with my 2011-12 group for three years, since they were 6th graders! I love this past fraternal year because I have a new group of kids who were ready and willing to learn everything they czn from me.  For the most part, they are well behaved, respectful and all-around good kids.  This year, I placed a strong emphasis on the ’11 Standards of Manhood’, drilling it in their heads at each and every opportunity. This group learned and we grew together intellectually, I suppose. Last year, there was more emotional bonding; this year, much more intellectual.  So for next year–it’ll be my 2nd year with them–I’m expecting it to definitely be the best year year. They’ll have a good knowledge base of the strands I try to teach, and we’ve established a good foundational relationships with one another to continue to build upon. 

Mistakes and Implications for the future:

  • I did not spend as much time on Standard 3 “Hustle Hard” as much as I should have–financial literacy and tapping into an entrepreneurial spirit.  Our last two meetings were about setting up summer plans to make money. I told them we would revist our goals in June, July and August.
  • I could’ve spent more time on Standard 4, “Sophistication“–effective communication and interpersonal skills. I really would like to spend a good deal of time on social etiquette, public speaking and debating. 
  • As usual, I spent entirely too much of my own money.  I need to be more assertive in asking for snack donations as well as transportation expenses. I have a family of my own to support.
  • I also need to begin collecting data on the number of school discipline referrals from my group and academic progress.
  • We did not do as much community service as we’ve done in years past.

Highlights

  • Successful implementation of the “11 Standards” in all activities and weekend trips.
  • Tour of Clark-Atlanta University and CAU art gallery
  • Tour of Atlanta HIGH Museum completely paid for by sponsors (teachers)
  • Successfully purchased bowties for every young bro and a few were successful at tying them.
  • Atlanta Hawks vs. Oklahomo City Thunder
  • Atlanta Hawks vs. Portland Trailblazers
  • Atlanta Braves vs. LA Dodgers (tickets donated by players themselves)
  • Prepared over 700 nutritious meals to Atlanta’s sick and shut-in at Open Hand-Atlanta
  • Delivered 20+ meals to Atlanta’s sick and shut-in, many of whom lived in dilapidated neighborhoods
  • Helped cook soup for homeless at Holy Trinity Methodist Church soup kitchen
  • General body meetings much more structured and organized. We have a note-taker, minutes and records keeper, and materials distributors
  • Successfully completed year two of literacy initiative. We finished reading and discussing Narratives in the Life of Fredrick Douglass, autobiography of Fredrick Douglass.
  • Received 5 pair of retro Jordan sneakers to be given aways as gifts.
  • Attended Martin Luther King Day Commemoration Service and tour of site.

Fraternal year 2013-14 Goals

  • Purchase more bowties for each member of the bond
  • Purchase uniform neckties for each member (like-colored ties)
  • 5-10 hours a month of community service
  • Visit to Georgia Aquarium and Fernbank Museum of Natual History
  • Visit to Georgia State Capitol (projected to do by summer’s end)
  • Monthly business (carwashing, yard-work) to generate funds for end-of year trip.
  • End-of-year trip to Six Flags completely paid for

We will continue our literacy and Black education program by doing another book study.  I would like to do two next school year, one in the fall semester and another in the spring. I am currently taking suggestions, but I am considering ASSATA by Assata Shakur and Letters to a Young Brother by Hill Harper.

What are your thoughts? Comment with your book study suggestion.

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