For a student like me, summer break is the most awaited, relaxing, and happiest days of my life. During this time, I am able to stay at home for the whole day. As a gamer, sitting in front of the computer is literally what completes my life. Each time my friends ask me to chill with them at the mall or park, all I do is either pretend that I hadn’t read their messages or tell them that I’m at my aunt’s house in Vaughan, which is actually a big lie. These are my excuses every summer.
But what I experienced last summer transformed my life. One of my friends told me that there was a program that was going to be held at our school. At first, I was having second thoughts about whether or not I should go to that program or just stay at home sleep, eat, and play computer for the whole day. I ended up going to the program because a lot of my friends and my parents forced me to do so.
On the first week of the program, I had already made a lot of new friends. One of them was our mentor Amy. She has a unique hairstyle called dreadlocks, which she told us connected her to a deeper belief in spiritual unity and a values-based lifestyle. Each day, she introduced us to different kinds of activities which made our bonds stronger and improved our self-confidence.
On the second week of the program, Amy gave us a task in which we all had to draw the things that came up in our mind. I came up with the idea of hands holding a heart. I don’t even know where that idea came from, but I still handed it to her.
Two days passed by, and Amy told us about her bright idea! She merged all of our drawings, and guess what? We were going to paint our collective ideas on the wall, located by our school’s parking lot. We were all excited because we hadn’t done such a thing before.
Finally, the painting time had come. It was a cold night. All of us were wearing jackets. Different colours of paints and paintbrushes were all over the place. We started to sketch the drawings. Some of us had to climb ladders in order to reach the highest part of the wall just to finish sketching. The sketching part lasted for a week.
We would be using the remaining three weeks of the program to fill the sketch with colours, Amy told us. Since it was our first time doing that activity, we realized that the job of painters who painted the walls of new establishments wasn’t that easy. They have to struggle, either because of the hot sun rays hitting their bodies or the windy and cold type of weather. We were experiencing the same situation since the first day we started the painting. It was hard, but at the same time we enjoyed what we were doing. We were covered in paint. The music was amazing and it made the atmosphere more lively.
The taste of the Freezies that Amy gave to us to fight the sunny weather was absolutely good! I thought to myself, “What if I had decided just to stay at home and not to participate in this kind of awesome activity?”
So the last day of the program came. We finally managed to finish the painting. Amy planned to hold a farewell party that would also be the reward for all of the efforts to create the painting. We all brought food and drink for the party. The party was held in front of our painting. Some of us invited our friends to celebrate with us. We had brownies filled with Oreo cookies and a lot of chocolates. It tasted really good, that you would want to wrap some of it up and bring it home with you.
You could hear a lot of them talking about their most unforgettable moments since the first day of the program. The feeling that it’s already the last day and that we’re not going to see each other since we go to different schools was the saddest part. But we didn’t go home that day with a frowning face. Instead, you could see the smiles on our faces and you would have known that we had enjoyed each moment that we were together. I realized that it was fun exploring the outside world compared to the isolated world which I called “home”.
I met this guy named Karl at the program. He’s also a Filipino, but acts and dresses differently. Maybe because he’s been influenced by his foreign friends here in Canada. At first, I thought he was an a**hole because he always wore a snapback cap that was the same colour with his shirt and shoes. The way he wore his pants was weird, because it was too saggy. I think they call that style “Low-ride”. He also acted like a jerk, or maybe it was just me who thought of him like that. But one day, while my friend and I were playing dodge ball, we asked Karl to join us because he looked bored that day. That was the time that I learned who Karl really is. I realized that he wasn’t a jerk at all. He accepted our request without hesitation even though we’re not that close. The game went well. Days had passed by and I learned a lot of things about Karl while we were at the program, which got me thinking, “Is this the guy that I once thought and called a jerk in my head?” He’s good at dancing which is a cool talent! There was a time that he taught my friends a dance move and I suddenly realized that I was completely wrong to judge Karl. He had been pretty nice to those people around him, including me, even though he just met us at the program. To sum things up, he was very kind and fun to hang out with. I now know that I don’t have the right to judge someone that I don’t thoroughly know, and I also realized that the outside world is pretty awesome!
By Ervin, Youth V.O.I.C.E participant