“Do you want to work with kids?” A story of joining CalSERVES

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Alejandro Tinajaro, CalSERVES AmeriCorps Service Scholar

There have been few moments in my life when I have felt a sense of worthiness and usefulness in myself. Contrasting to that, there are many moments where I have felt pathetic, awkward, and like a misfit. I don’t particularly mind these feelings, though. Like a terrible illness or any film by Michael Bay, I know there will be a general build-up of angst and anxiety that will eventually lead to utter chaos. But after all that fades, I know the virus will wither away and the film will come to an end. And all will be well.

There is a point to all this, and I’m getting to it. In order to understand something in its entirety, it is crucial to realize how you got there. The reason you’re reading this sentence is because you were born, I was born, we learned to read and write, and you have read (and thus I have written) the previous words and sentences. See? It makes sense.

This particular story begins outside of Stevenson Hall at Sonoma State University. The beginning of the school year started off wonderfully and my high expectations were being met. Most of them. However, on this day, as I walked out of my sociological research methods class, I was rather distraught. I had been trying to add this class and it didn’t look like I was going to get it. So I walked on, head hung low, with a generally angsty look about me, the kind that is usually found among the preteens and teenagers. And that’s when a cheerful looking girl asked me if I wanted to work with kids.

For the past few months, I had been trying to find a job that involved working with kids. I like kids. For one, they aren’t as judgmental as most people my age are. And when they do judge you, they do it in a positive way. Such examples of praise and judgments include, “Those shoes that are covered in milk are really cool,” and “I like how huge and messy your hair is.” These are awesome. Also, kids basically always have fun. It seems that the older we get, the less interested we are in the tiny things in life. Kids embrace all of them and it makes for interesting times. They’re just fun in general.

So of course I said yes. Next thing I knew I was on my way to an interview, training, meeting my brothers and sisters in arms, and going to my school site to prepare for the months that lay ahead.

And let me tell you, dear reader, it has been a blast.

Along the way, tears have been shed, and blood has been spilled. Metaphorically and literally. I am very proud to be part of the staff here at Bellevue. I won’t deny that we are awesome. But as much as I love all the AmeriCorps and CalSERVES members, it is important to also note how great the kids are here. As corny and cliche as it may sound, they are one of the main reasons I want to keep coming back.

Our first month is coming to an end. September has come and gone, the green leaves of summer are giving way to the warm tones of autumn, and as the year comes to a swift end, I can’t help but think about how I got here. As I type this, I am sitting in the local bookstore to which I give my free time every weekend, working for a person who probably doesn’t respect me and maybe even looks down on me for being young and inexperienced. Maybe the reason I was so willing and ready to join the CalSERVES team was simply to show the world that I can make a difference and what I do during my short time in this life actually will matter. I guess in the larger scope of things any change will be miniscule. But a change is still a change. Kicking a stone from the sidewalk changes that sidewalk just a little. And the changed sidewalk changes the town, which changes the county, which changes the state, the country, the continent, the Earth, the galaxy, the universe, and, well, just about everything. Everything is just a matter of perspective I suppose. But I digress.

I’m not really sure what’s next. I can only assume it will be awesome and I will have a total blast. But a wise friend once told me that happiness doesn’t last forever. This is true. I mean, without sorrow or misery, happiness and joy can’t exist. So I know that the rest of my time with CalSERVES at Bellevue will be filled with momentous occasions of utter joy and excitement, and I also know that there will be tougher times. It’s just expected.

But why focus on any of that? Why over think things as soon as they get started? I know where I am, I know how I got here, and I know why I want to stay. That’s all that matters now. All that should be done is really go with the motions, ride the undulating waves. We’re off to a great start.

And so we raise our anchor, and sail off. And, dear reader, the sea looks promising and beautiful from here.

by Alejandro Tinajero, AmeriCorps Service Scholar, Bellevue Elementary