Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Adios Amigos!

Thursday, August 2nd, Day 40

Question of the Day: How do you feel about today being the last day?
Cindy: Happy and the same time sad because leaving a family.
Morgan: Sad because need more time to tell all students how amazing they are.
Angela: Hate the thought that we are not going to brush our teeth together, sleep together, and do the things that make us smile.
Gerald: Sadness and happiness all at the same time.
Juan: Hope not to cry.
Kenia: Sad but happy to see family.
Engels: Happy and sad.
Ana: Heart is broken.
Laura: Feel like losing a family.

Good bye ARC Graduates! Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication this summer. You each are amazing and incredible young adults and it was wonderful to work with all of you this summer!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Public Poetry Reading at the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos

Wednesday, August 1st, Day 39

Here are a few excerpts of the studen'ts final transformational narratives, which some of them read at the Public Reading.

Ana Flores
I’ve discovered many things about myself that I never thought I could do, but now I know that I am capable of doing a lot of things like rock climbing. Because of my fears of heights, I never thought that I would be able to reach the top, the 90 foot rock, and want to do it again. Thinking about how high it is and that I won’t be able to climb it made me want to turn my back and not complete the challenge. If I didn’t even try I knew that I would regret it for the rest of my life and never have the chance to do it again. When the time came I put my harness on, I slipped one leg by one into the harness. I tightened my right one first, then my left one, very tight, just to be safe. The instructors told us to slip the left over string into the opening, so you wont be able to see the danger sign. While I was walking towards the rope, my heart was beating faster and faster. I had this overwhelming feeling, like when you go on a roller coaster, ticking, while its going up very slowly, then it drops. I clipped my harness to the lock on the rope, and I began climbing. When I reached the middle I felt like giving up, but I stopped instead. When I closed my eyes I took a big breath and thought about all the things I’ve gone through, with my parents, friends, and all my experiences. I wanted to prove to everyone, my parents, and especially myself that I am not a failure, that I can start something and finish it. I remembered when they told me that I can do anything if I try my hardest, the best I can be. I imagined the top of that 90 foot rock, to be my family, my goals and dreams, and if I reach it, that I can do anything. When I continued, I knew what I wanted and went for it. I made it to the top and realized that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. It was over and I felt so great because I reached my goal. This experience made me realize that I don’t let my fears get in my way of doing anything. No matter what it is, or how hard it maybe, if I believe that I can do it, I will. Being positive and making goals for myself was very helpful for me, so that I can start something and finish it, and in the end I will feel proud of it.

Angela Lopez
The old me: A lethargic girl who does not do anything to help others. Always on the couch watching TV, or in the room chatting on the computer. A girl who did not push herself to be better and putting effort into her life. Besides being selfish and carefree, I was a sack full of fears. I was nobody to anybody…
The new me: Angela Lopez- energetic and helpful. A girl who can run 5 miles in less than an hour, a girl who can walk 6 hours with a heavy backpack, a girl who can defeat the nervous feelings and the words “I can’t.” Now I realize that nobody will love me as much as my parents. I leave fears behind and make life fun, interesting, and adventurous. In the last 40 days I learned I can be somebody.

Cindy Rodriquez
Forty days ago, I was a girl with fears, especially with water and heights. It was hard for me to speak with different people that I didn’t know. And I was a girl that couldn’t say; “ I love you to my mom, dad, and brothers.” But now, with all of what I learned in the Adventure Risk Challenge Summer Program, I found the words to say it. Why? Because being without my family, taking risks, learning how to leave my fears behind and becoming independent makes me realize how hard my life would be without my family.
My parents have showed me how to grow how to take care of others; they give me a home and a big family, but their love is missing. I can’t feel their love because we never truly talk. I have never told my parents about my feelings because they are always too busy working. Being here in ARC with a new family of friends makes me realize that I have never said, “ I love you,” to my family at home that I have known since I was born. I also have to add the words risk and challenge to my life because those words show me the light of life.

Engels Garcia
I didn’t speak English very often in my school and community, especially in my classroom; students laughed about how I spoke English. I felt lonely, misunderstood, like a teenager that nobody can understand. The teenager that feels pain when seeing others suffer for being the way they are, imagining what their life is like. The little curly haired weird guy who talks about issues that nobody cares about. I was a weak guy that sometimes could find sense in his life, who though for a moment that the life was a simple accident. I was the guy who preferred to be in his room, just thinking about what he should do, trying to conceal his problem as he hears phycodelic music, imaging that he could fly away and demonstrate to everyone who he really is.
Now after forty days, I have had the opportunity to overcome my fears. I learned how to hike with my home on my back for long distances, pushing the team, as if I were the strongest in the team; where I had to push myself every day, and try to be energetic, leaving behind the weak guy that I was; where I sweated drop by drop, helping my team to reach our goals. I had to learn how to live together and respected all my team members. I had to speak English everyday, every night and even in our free time. When I had to speak up when we had group problems, when I had to say to someone I had a problem with them; when I had to make order in the group and direct them to meeting places, to be on time and encouraging them to do their jobs, I learned to use my voice as tool to solve my problems and group issues. All these challenges has been helping me to defeat my fears, defeat the afraid toward those, those that in one moment ignored me or simple didn’t understand me. Now after Forty days I have obtained more skill to deal with different attitudes. Before I met the face of tolerance and compassion, I saw it far-off in the distance, but now I met it and talk to it. But to put on the face of these values is like taking your skin off and leave behind judgments. Convinced that I must speak up with intensity and confident about the problems in our communities; convinced that instead of think what I want to do, I have to act. Now, I know that tolerance is difficult because everyone has different way of seeing life. But I have to respect their points of view, opinions, and feelings. And from here, we can practice living in a community together resolving issues.

Gerald Toledo
In this exceptional summer, I have experienced my changes and transformations. I have approved many challenges, like hiking with a heavy backpack in the heat, like jumping off the platform thirty feet above the ground and like running our final five miles; each challenge told me how to overcome the next one. Also, each goal reached is a trophy for me: the final run, teaching Boys and Girls Club kids, improving my English, my finished poem, my science project, and this final essay. My mind has transformed like when a caterpillar changes into a colorful butterfly. Each of the challenges during this summer began easy. We had energy at the beginning, but after awhile, hiking, rock climbing, writing becomes slow, complicated, and harder. Always, I was tempted to stop and find shade, a good place to rest, but I decided not to give up. After a long effort, when the challenge ends, I feel great, incredible with a happiness spreading throughout my whole body. All of these challenges and responsibilities are making me stronger and are preparing me for the future. My body is stronger and more flexible, but I still think that my mind is stronger than my body.

Ilse Bautista
Between being lazy at home and experiencing a total different idea in life, coming to the program was the right choice; I had challenge of leaving my family when I joined ARC. They’re worth more than anything I possess; they’re like a treasure to me. In ARC I didn’t have them as a resource to talk to or depend on for help. I especially missed my five brothers, who helped me when my dad wasn’t there. They are the ones that feed me, buy me clothes, and most importantly, they are the ones that support me in what I do. I also miss my mom who always worries for our safety. She makes sure we eat well, she prays for us, and she checks in often.
Even though I miss my family, I regret not appreciating all the nice favors they did for me, because after I came to the program, I realized how much I appreciate them and the things they have offered me. I feel terrible for the awful words I said to my mom and brothers before I came to ARC. I noticed that I had said something wrong, because of their facial expressions. That was an error that I made, because they didn’t deserved those words. I hurt to not have the chance to tell my mom and brothers that I was sorry. My heart was a broken mirror: scattered, reflecting on my emotions. Over the course of 40 days, my heart is returning to its place. Now I can see the reflection of the true me: clear, with scars to be healed. I learned to think before I speak to adults. When I return I will tell them, “I love you for every thing you had done for me; sorry for the mistakes I made.”
Although learned that life isn’t always easy without family, I developed new skills with ARC: such as hiking, rock climbing, sea kayaking, ropes course, and surfing. I grew stronger and more confident every time I faced up to a new challenge. Each time I tried hard and risked challenges, I was afraid to fail because the adventures seemed too complicated for me. I said to myself, “Don’t give up…,” and I never did. I always had my family in my mind. The image of them helped me continue all the way. I had my friends by my side cheering me on, congratulating me after I finished my challenges. Each time I ended the tasks I felt relief and pride. I had a sensation like I was on a top of a mountain after I hiking or climbing it. That is the best feeling anyone can get. You feel like you rule the world, and that nothing can stop you from reaching the top.

Juan Hernandez
I think to myself how stupid I’ve been. It’s taken me 40 days to appreciate my friends, my family, and most of all, my mother. The adventures we have had let me see what I am made of. All that I have accomplished; rock climbing, ropes course, Kayaking, hiking, CPR, Surfing, interviews, 24-hour solo, the final run, and teaching kids from the Boys and Girls Club. With the challenges that I accomplished I discovered my good and bad sides. I’m funny, it’s easy for me to make everyone enjoy themselves. I easily can connect and talk with a person. Just chill-back and fun basically. Yin-Yang for good their must always be bad, for me I always thought I was “positive” but in the time I’ve been here I discovered that I am selfish and lazy. My lies and truths have come out. Emotions that I thought I have locked up and would never have to bare again. All of this has changed me, It has challenged me mentally and physically, but not only that emotionally too. The 24-hour solo was the scariest and most eye-opening experience. I found myself alone, because I knew that the truth in myself would come out, I reflected on the 28 days I’ve been with ARC. The things I‘ve done and the responsibilities that I didn’t take seriously. I felt like a failure in the group. The weakest link. I thought to myself about how I am holding them back, I should just leave and let them succeed. They don’t really need me , I slow them down, especially with my foot limping everywhere. I felt worthless and just low, especially when they would yell at me for slowing them down. I wrote my “I Am Sorry” letter to the group I just wanted to say I’m sorry for coming to ARC, for slowing you down, and for letting you down. I thought about it for a moment and thought of all the experiences that I had; Rock Climbing, Kayaking, all of that. It made me stronger. It changed me for the better. I shouldn’t give up, I should push myself to my limit, and even beyond it.
Here at Sedgwick I learned to be persistent to challenge myself. I have seen and experienced the beauty of the wild, to appreciate what it does for humans. To have met people who fight for the survival of it. I have a different view about nature and life. Life is different for everybody; no one shares the same path. Some people have their life laid out for them; others work toward the life they never had. ARC has let me see what I am capable of doing. It has shown me how much we have to work to reach our goals. For the last 40 days we have all pushed ourselves to our limit. Trusting others and ourselves, being Independent. Letting new people into my heart and souls opening our hearts to one another. Shedding tears of joy and sadness. Even after the 40 days are over we will still be there for one another. We have been born again. Seeing the world in a new way, with a new sight. We will live with these experiences, and we will live with the love that we have been surrounded with. From the fears and challenges we all had to face, and conquer. We will all go forward together as a family.

Kenia Lopez
As I reflect on my experience, I feel that I made the best decision of my life. When Jen started introducing us all that cool activities that we were going to do, I was thinking, “Oh my gosh!, what an amazing chance life is giving me. I feel like I don’t deserve this, because all that kids in the world with out food or a place to live.” I grew enormously, not only physically but mentally. To spend 40 days with 9 other teenagers that I didn’t know was a real mental challenge because I had to learn how to work with other people. Working as a team was not easy because real frustrations came to light. I got impatient when things are not being done right and fast. I recognize that I was not a very patient person, but working on it every single day, I improved. This summer I learned that “slow is good and good is fast.” For example, when we were hiking in Sequoia, for our first expedition, I used to get desperate waiting for slow people. Then I realized that going slow you get fast and safe to your destination.
Also, thinking about my family almost everyday was as painful as a bee sting on the back. I learned to appreciate more of my life, because makes me think about those people that don’t have anything to eat or a place to sleep. This makes me realize how much my parents work to have us in the best conditions that they can. Opportunities do not always appear and when they do you should go for it. I never imagined that I would do something extremely complicated, but as awesome as ARC.

Luis Guerra
Here is me, Luis Guerra, a typical teenager before I decided to take the risk to come to the ARC program. I was involved in gangs; every day was a fight to live, never knowing if I would make it to the next day. Always worried because I knew my rivals could attack me anytime. I knew I had to stop fooling around with gangs, smoking, and drinking. When my friend died in a car accident, I began to change my attitude, my work in school, and the way I see life. When I realized I didn’t want to live my life the same way as my friends, I began to be more responsible. I don’t want to do the same thing to my mom. Choosing to be in the ARC program shows that I’m starting to make better decisions in my life. I’m going to leave my old life behind when I return.
Even though my mom has always worked very hard for me, I didn’t respect her. Every time my mom tried to talk to me, I didn’t listen. I thought she was crazy. But she continued to support me. It didn’t matter how cruel I was to her. Now that I’m away from my mom, I understand how cruel I have been with her. When I was alone for almost 24 hours on my solo day, I reflected about all of my life, like looking in a mirror. I woke up around 5 in the morning and while the fog was on the top of the mountain, I took my journal and started to write my apology letter to the group. Suddenly, I heard my mom’s voice calling, “Luis.” I turned around thinking that she was behind me but there was only the shade of the tree.
Then I turned back to my letter but instead I looked up at the gray peak in front of me, with red and oranges streaks of light coming down. Pictures came to my mind, one after another, like a slide show: My mom and I were in the back yard; she was sitting at the table; “Luis,” she said, “ the reason I’m here is to give you a better life. If you don’t do better in school, we will have to go back to Mexico.” I shook my head and looked at the ground. Remembering this, I started to cry. Picture after picture of the words I had said to my mom came into my mind. I grabbed a rock and threw it at a boulder in front of me. I was very angry with myself. I couldn’t understand why I have been so cruel to mom. When I get angry, a voice inside commands me to be cruel and disrespectful. It is like I have an angry double inside of me. At this moment, I felt like I couldn’t continue to support these feelings. It was holding me back from enjoying life with people that care about and respect me.

Tracey Garcia
Weeks away from home can make a person crazy but strong. Imagine a girl who had never left home for more than three days now in a forty-day adventure program. A girl, who used to walk half the mile in PE, is now running two miles with a sprained ankle. I was someone who would get a $200 bill on text messages alone, and didn’t think much of it. This someone was lost without her cell phone which she has known longer than the people around her. She was a small town girl who would look at an insane roller coaster and say, “Hell no, am I ever going to get on that.” Well “that girl” is now a completely different person. That girl is now rock climbing, backpacking, facing her fear of being in the ocean and jumping off a forty foot pole and doing things she wouldn’t have dared to imagine herself doing. It all made me realize that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you’re away from home.
This has been an experience like no other, a lesson in life. I learned to never give up. If I give up on a challenge, I will not only let myself down but I will never find out what I am capable of. In the end it is all worth it; when I overcome my fears of the ocean, of heights, and of sharing personal feelings, it all feels rewarding. I feel proud that I know I tried: rock climbing, surfing, kayaking, backpacking, and interviewing an adult who I didn’t know. The only person that can get through to me is me; no matter how much people support me, I am the one who has to do it.
Coming to ARC was one of the hardest decisions in my life, leaving family and friends behind to join nine other teens that didn’t have my same intuitions. At first, we all had different minds, different voices, and different futures. A challenge was to see how ten worlds can become one family. I always thought that happened in movies. “No way,” I thought, “am I going to consider nine other teens as my family.” But half way through the course, I saw our friendships developing through my own two eyes and it made me believe. Sharing tears, arguments, and passions for our lives brought us all together.

Just for Fun

Beach Clean-up at Arroyo Burro Beach

Switching Roles

Tuesday, July 31st, Day 38

Greatest Accomplishment of the Day: teaching the Boys & Girls Club students.

Today we got in the van at 7:40 a.m. We went to Arroyo Burro Beach to start teaching! We were nervous but excited. We started teaching and everyone was doing great. One finished with our exciting classes, we had lunch. All of the ARC students were having fun talking to the cute and funny kids. When we finished eating PB & J sandwiches, we cleaned the beach. The weirdest things we found were a full beer, a shoe, and socks.

Final 5-Mile Run Baby!

Monday, July 30st, Day 37

We went to the starting point to start running. Jen came up with the idea of taking off a shoe and throw it in the front. The purpose was to grab your shoe and put it on and start running. She said it was ARC style. It was very funny to see everyone searching for their shoes. I was the first one to start running. I was very impressed to see everyone finishing the 5 miles in under 2 hours. It was very cool because then the volunteers cooked breakfast for us.

We started running at 7:09 a.m. Here are everyone’s times:
Luis: 40 minutes
Engels: 44 minutes
Kenia: 46 minutes
Angela: 57 minutes
Gerald: 59 minutes
Cindy: 62 minutes
Ilse: 70 minutes
Juan: 84 minutes

Question of the Day: What inspires you to become a new person?

Sunday, July 29th, Day 36

Kenia: my parents
Angela: my parents
Cindy: music and my family
Engels: people from history
Luis: being away from home
Tracey: family and friends
Ana: realizing the things I’m capable of doing
Gerald: family and friends
Ilse: love and friendship


Saturday, July 28th, Day 35

Quote of the Day: “First tell yourself what you want to be; and then do what you need to do.” Epictetus

Today we woke up at 6:15 as always, but today is different because we only 5 more days! YES! We had waffles with coffee and apples juice. They were nice and toasted and golden brown too. We had a normal Sedgwick day starting off with gram and then English with Jen. After that we had 10 minutes of our individual books and then science. We learned that we were teaching kids from the Boys & Girls Club. I guess me and Kenia are going to have to put them in their place. LOL. After science we had free time. Some of us chilled and looked at the pictures then me and Tracey decided to learn some origami. We learned how to make a box. While we did that Kenia and Engels were making Morisqueta for us. When we had the Morisqueta, everyone was a bit nervous, but it turned out to be good. After that we had a special ceremony, which I like to call “The Circle of New Birth.” I don’t know it just sounds right because we all have changed during these 36 days. We love and trust each other. And even after the 40 days are over we will still be there for each other. WE are born again, seeing the world in a new way, with a new sight. We will live with these experiences and we will live with the love that surrounds us from everyone. We will all go forward together as a family.

Back to Sedgwick

Friday, July 27th, Day 34

Well today was the final day of our final. We started off with our regular schedule and went through the trail. Half way there we all started getting stomachaches. Diarrhea showed its ugly head. Kenia and Cindy got it really bad. When we got to the parking lot, we all worshipped the toilet. We got in the van for our 5 hour trip. We made thank you cards for the people who helped out. When we got to In & Out Burger, we were all embarrassed because we said we weren’t going to come back to that place the first time. People were pointing and laughing at us and looked like they wanted to give us a dollar. On the rest of the car drive we started letters to all of our parents. We get to take showers today.

It's Almost Over

Thursday, July 26th, Day 33

Today we had the chance to sleep in, but we decided to wake-up as always…6:15. We hiked from Pinto Lake to Timber Creek. We were like always tired and quiet in the uphill but in the downhill everyone was singing and talking. After we had pitas with tuna for lunch, we kept going. We thought there was going to be another creek and a flat place but once in the top we noticed that the creek was dry. We had to go down and everyone was tired and frustrated. When we were down we found a small creek and a place to camp. Everyone was a little better in camp and because we knew we were going to eat a lot because it is our last night here in Sequoia.

Learning by Doing

Wednesday, July 25th, Day 32

Major Discovery of the Day: Today was a really complicated day. We discovered that we can push ourselves to reach our goals. We worked together and we made it together.

Greatest Accomplishment: Today, we made it without the intervention of our instructors.

Finals...we are on our own! Yipee!!!

Tuesday, July 24th, Day 31

Today has been a very strange day. It was cloudy and sprinkling, windy, and very cold. We all ate breakfast, which was cereal, with milk powder and water with iodine. That was nasty, but that was the only thing we could eat. After that we all cleaned up, and started packing. WE were going to leave at 9 a.m., but we ended up learning early, which was at 7:53. We started hiking in a flat, nice, cool, forest area. Everyone was singing, some sang bad, and some sang….bad. JK Anyways, everyone was happy and couldn’t wait to get to our destination. We walked through very beautiful lakes, shining like a diamond. Juan fell because he wasn’t watching were he was going so he ended up falling down. We had to stop because it started to sprinkle, so we all looked stylish in all different color rain jackets. After a while, we had lunch. We ate PB and J in the rain, but we had shelter with our rain jackets, so it was pretty fun! After that we went on with our hiking and when we got to a creek, the trail ended, so we sent scouts to check for trails, they were successful, and we went on. When we arrived at Big 5 Lakes, we didn’t know where to stay, so Kenia, Gerald, and Cindy went to go scout. While they were scouting, Tracey, Angela, Ilse, Luis, Engels, Juan and I were sitting by the lake thinking about questions I should ask. When Engels climbed a big rock, Tracey was worried about his safety, and asked him to come with the group, as well as Ilse. A while later Kenia arrived and told us she found a spot, so we set up camp. Afterwards we all had nothing to do so we all sat in a circle and talked about Mexico, and we said jokes. Even though some were not funny, by the look of some peoples faces…JK.

The transformation is realized

Monday, July 23rd, Day 30
Question of the Day: What does love mean to you?

Ana: Love is something that you feel in your heart when 2 people come in contact, and you have that trust and honesty.
Juan: Something precious you hold in your heart that never ends.
Angela: A feeling that is unexplainable.
Luis: Loves makes me dizzy.
Kenia: Respect and trust.
Engels: Connection and sentiments that connect each other that demonstrate love.
Cindy: Someone who cares for you and loves you how you are.
Gerald: Appreciation and a special attraction.
Tracey: Something special that you feel for someone else no matter what and willing to do something for that person.
Morgan: Learning how to share silence and respect the wilderness of that person.
Ilse: Caring, trust and honesty.

Since today is the day after our solo, I woke up and I don’t know what time but it was really warm. I was wondering what everyone else was doing. Also I began writing the apology letter and the other one of how we change during this time here in ARC. This was a reflection for me thinking how I was before and how I changed. It was kind of hard for me to concentrate and write because the mosquitoes were bugging me. I killed a few. But it was fun to be alone for 24 hours. It made me look and realize what mistakes I made before and want to change when I return home.

First time alone in 29 days

Sunday, July 22nd, Day 29

Today we woke up at 6:15 as usual but first we packed then have breakfast soon so we could get to our destination Lost Canyon. We packed fast because it was really cold in the morning so the sun wouldn’t get us while we were hiking. But then it did. It was really complicated for everyone to hike because the trail was really sandy and was all up hill. Aah! How exhausting. Everyone was pushing themselves really hard because everyone was excited to go on their solo. Cindy was scared to go on the solo because she is afraid of the night. Finally we got to Lost Canyon. Everyone was tired. But it was worth it because we all wanted to be by ourselves to have time to think how much you changed over this course here in ARC. The time came and Morgan and Laura took us to our place where we were going to sleep. I got a pretty narly place to stay for 24 hours. In front I had a tree and on the middle it had a shape of a heart. It was cool. Then I got everything set up for me then I began to think of my family and I began to cry but then I got happy thinking soon I was going to see them. Then I fell asleep.

Cindy Learns How to Swim!

Saturday, July 21st, Day 28

Question of the Day: If your house was in a fire, what would be the first thing that you take on the way out?
Juan: my puppy
Gerald: the hard drive from my computer
Morgan: my guitar
Angela: my letters and pictures
Kenia: my pictures
Ana: pet and computer
Cindy: myself and my family
Ilse: clothes
Tracey: jewelry and ipod
Jen: my grandmother’s things
Laura: my backpacking stuff
Luis: important things
Engels: pictures

Major discover of the day: Cindy learned how to swim