Work Day 1: Orientation

Today was all about getting acquainted with the Tennyson Center, the children who live and learn here, the adults who teach and care for them, and the classrooms in which we’ll be working all week. 

The first half of the day was spent in an intensive orientation and training session in which we learned about the effects of trauma on children, the ways that trauma causes people to act out or withdraw, and the therapeutic methods used to help kids build strong and safe coping skills so they can thrive in the world. We also learned about some of the things we may see or experience this week that can be troubling, appropriate ways to respond, and how to show grace in our actions.

So far, out mottos for the week are:

  • Practice the ways of Christ instead of talking about him.
  • Fair is not equal. Fair is giving each kid what they need in the moment.

At lunchtime, we split into groups and joined our classrooms. For the rest of the school day, we started getting to know our kids and teachers by helping in the classes — this includes playing games, helping with snacks, visiting the community garden, and doing playground duty. 

When the school day ended, we had our first daily debrief session. During this time we have the chance to process the things we’ve seen, heard, and experienced. Every classroom has kids who experience crisis in any given moment, so there are a variety of things to debrief. Our volunteer coordinator, Tia, is excellent at helping everyone process the day with depth and empathy.

After work, we rested for a while with naps. Then we went to a local restaurant and entertainment institution: Casa Bonita. We ate dinner, explored, and played in the arcade before heading back to Tennyson for showers. Now we’re ready for bed so we can get the rest we need for a full day of work!


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