Sorry it has been so long since I last blogged. I really don't have an excuse other than I have been trying to figure out what I want to say to you all. I guess I should start with the 2 conferences that I just attended with FosterClub.
First, all 12 All-Stars travelled 7 hours south to Ashland, OR to the Southern Oregon University campus. The campus is beautiful with lots of grass and trees everywhere. The first day was registration for about 85 youth who had travelled all from across OR. That was a lot of fun and many youth had never heard of FosterClub when we were creating FosterClub IDs for them. It's just another form of picture ID for youth who may not have any form of ID for setting up a bank account or something like that. We broke up the youth into Tribes using different colors and discussed our topics for the Youth Speaks presentation that would be at the end of the conference. This would be in front of a VIP panel discussing some very important issues for foster youth, amplifying our voice to get changes made in the system. Then we had a general session of Dots and Lines using gumdrops and spaghetti to create the biggest creation. My tribe, the Purple Fighting Mongooses, created a body shell thing around our tallest tribe member who was 6'5". It was pretty awesome!
The next day, started the day with workshop titled Foster to Famous, explaining the Hero's Journey and emphasizing the importance of giving back. Afterwards, the All-Stars broke up into groups to present 4 different workshops, Tell It Like It Is, It's Who You Know, It's Relative, and Get Educated. I presented Tell It Like It Is which was very successful and we got a lot of good feedback! In the afternoon, we had a fun teamwork activity called the Eggdrop Activity. Youth had to create a safe contraption to prevent the egg using limited supplies from breaking when dropped from a high point. Unfortunately, not many eggs were safe but it was a lot of fun. Later that night, we had a lot of fun activities such as Rock Climbing, Tango Dancing Lessons, basketball, and the Postcard Project.
The name for this blog refers to the Postcard Project because the night ended in healthy tears for many people, including me. (I originally was not going to participate because I was heading the movie, but we couldn't get it to work at all.) However, I am so happy that I was able to participate in this activity because it has completely changed how I view this entire internship and specifically how I relate to you all, the youth of the system. Basically, this project is headed by Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA) to get youth voices heard through art on, you guessed it, postcards. :) This had never been done at a youth conference before so we didn't really know the impact of what this would have on the youth. The youth were given markers, stickers and postcards to share their experience in foster care however they wished to express it. So we set to work and created a montage of very powerful statements, images and feelings that we then laid out on a table to look at collectively. The feelings that came over me is indescribable. I was not prepared for the amount of pain and hurt that I had experienced while in foster care to be brought up again. After the youth expressed their feelings and went to bed, I tried to process what just went on and felt like I was a little girl again, scared because I didn't know what was going to happen to me and why I was abruptly pulled from my home and torn from my siblings. I felt so connected to these youth and couldn't believe that we shared such similar stories. It was a very emotional moment for me but I am so grateful to the youth for feeling comfortable to share their experiences in care with us. Thank you for being so brave and open. You don't know who much it means to me.
The next day was jam-packed with Ultimate Frisbee to start the day followed by Etiquette Class for the fancy dinner that evening. We also worked one last time on our Youth Speaks presentations. My group had the topic of Healthcare and I must say, we had some really great ideas to express to the panel. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see them present the next day because I had to go to the CA conference, but I heard that they were amazing and I'm so proud of all of you.
Thank you all for making my first conference as an All-Star amazing, rewarding and unforgettable. I hope to hear from you soon and know that I am thinking about you!