The following blog is a cross-post from http://youthpowerny.tumblr.com/
Every year, the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), which leads the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP), holds an Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. for youth participants and coordinators. This year, the meeting took place from Wednesday, August 3 through Friday, August 5. This is a meeting in which youth from the 10 RAMP sites throughout the country come together and participate in activities, training, presentations of high tech projects, a tour of our Nation’s Capital, a college tour, and career exploration. The following is one Albany RAMP youth’s Washington D.C. experience.
Have you ever had a chance to go on an adventure to somewhere… different than what you’re used to? That’s a great feeling, isn’t it? It was for me, anyway. This is my story of an adventure that I very much enjoyed, a trip to Washington D.C.
A little backstory before we begin, my name is MJ Smyth, and I was invited to the RAMP annual meeting in Washington D.C. I went with my site’s coordinator, Elijah, and my good mate Anthony. The trip was three days, August 3rd, 4th and 5th. It was a splendid vacation and I got to relax, something I rarely get to do anymore. So, without further ado, let us begin, appropriately, at the beginning…
It was about 6 AM, on Wednesday, August 3, when my mother woke me up to tell me to get ready for the trip. As I had already packed the night before, I was well aware where everything was. I took a shower, washed up, made my bed and got ready to leave. Less than an hour later, Elijah pulled up. He had just gotten back from his own vacation (ironically), so he was ready for the LONG drive to Washington. After saying goodbye to my mom, I got into the car. Now I won’t bore you with the mundane details of the car ride, because I was listening to music like seventy-five percent of the way, so in all honesty, I have no clue what happened between Anthony and Elijah.
We got to D.C. about 2:30 that afternoon. It was a good feeling to stand up. I hadn’t done so since we stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Jersey almost four hours prior. We took our baggage and went to the lobby. Now, the first thing I wanted to do was get to the room that Anthony and I would share and change my clothes, but as we were already late, we’d have to postpone that idea. Instead, we had to head into the room where everyone was meeting. I was anxious but confident, Anthony and I had been working on a video game (I know, awesome right?), and we knew it would steal the show.
Now, two things going forward; first, I am not going to be addressing any other youth by their names, as that could put them in an uncomfortable position, and no one likes that. Secondly, am only going to be pointing out the few that I remember, it was quite a bit ago as of my writing this and not everything is exactly perfect.
Upon walking into the room, I noticed a sort-of cold impression, as if everybody already seemed to know each other, except for this one kid sitting at another table, but I’ll get to him later. Now, Anthony is the type of kid who wants to make friends with everybody. He does exceptionally well in that aspect, he is likable and kind. Case-in-point, the first thing he did was make friends with a girl from California. We had been in there about ten minutes, literally! I, on the other hand, had quite the opposite effect on the youth. I was trying to come off as mature, and as Anthony had made a rather inappropriate comment I was looking more mature, if more distant one of us.
After Anthony and I had joined the rest of the youth in a mentorship meeting, we were FINALLY able to get into our hotel room. While Anthony unpacked and got comfortable, I hopped onto my bed and plugged in my electronics. My tablet, which hadn’t been charging properly in a long time, actually started charging correctly. I was overjoyed. Soon, I noticed that the television in our room was a Smart T.V. So, I connected my tablet to it and watched some YouTube videos on the big screen. Anthony came back as soon as I began watching some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We had a blast watching one of my favorite episodes “The Foot Soldiers Are Revolting!”
Soon afterward, we went up to Union Station and had dinner at one of the restaurants there, Johnny Rockets’. I just had some french fries as I wasn’t too hungry. After dinner, we went to F.Y.E. Anthony found a fake sword and wanted to buy it. Elijah was surprised, as was I, but it was something he wanted, so he got it. Upon returning to the hotel room, Anthony and I watched some more Turtles, and when I wanted to discuss the issue of our presentation with Anthony, but he passed out before we could continue our discussion. As I didn’t want to disturb his sleep, I just took a shower, used the bathrobe, and watched “Friends” before passing out, at four in the morning, having to get up in less than two hours.
The next morning I was exhausted, and Anthony could tell. I was still acting the same as I was before, but more genuinely tired and irritated. That didn’t affect Anthony at all, seemingly. It was later when I could tell something was wrong, but I digress. Today was day two, and that meant it was college tour day. We would be touring George Washington College. Anthony and I were split apart for the college tour, and I met a young man from Texas. He and I discussed the college at length and decided it wasn’t our speed. You see, my friend from Texas wants to be an airplane mechanic. I want to be a public transportation operator, so our jobs would be in a somewhat similar field. Of course, his job would be significantly more important than mine. In any case, the college tour was rather interesting, but the most enjoyable part would be after lunch, the pool party!
After the college tour, Elijah, Anthony and I headed a block down to Walmart. As Anthony had a lot of snacks, and I had exhausted my resources on the drive to D.C. I wanted to get some munchies to last me the remainder of the trip. So, that was the point of that mission. I went to get some Pop-Tarts, Hawaiian Punch, and a Giant Hershey’s Cookies and Cream bar. All the while, Anthony was looking rather glum and I wanted to know what was up.
When we got back to the hotel, we had a bit of time before the pool party, so I asked Anthony what was wrong. He didn’t get into too many details, but I could tell he was having a bit of trouble with his relationship. I told him some good advice, which anyone can take: “If this was meant to be, you’ll patch things up, if it wasn’t, she’s not the one.” Anthony gave me a hug, and we went up to the pool. This, however, would not be the last time today Anthony would be having these problems.
When we got to the pool, everyone was already there playing pool volleyball. Anthony and I got on opposite teams, so it was myself, the young man from Texas and a young man from Michigan, against Anthony and the California kids. Now, I hadn’t been in a pool for almost two years prior to this, so my team was at a disadvantage. However, we had great fun and ended up winning anyway. Soon afterward, everybody except for myself, Anthony and the kid from Texas remained. We had a lot of fun in the pool just hamming it up and throwing each other around. There was one more thing on the itinerary for that day, the D.C. Tour!
About an hour or two later, Anthony and I were on a tour bus with everyone else. Elijah got on too, so it was going to be an enjoyable trip. The tour guide was very interesting, and showed us several sites, but as soon as we got to Capitol Hill, Anthony started walking away. Some of the adults started chasing him, but he wasn’t talking. After a long period of sulking, I was finally able to get him to listen to me, he was overly upset about his girlfriend. By the end of the day, however, he was feeling better, just in time for our presentation. Back to the tour, however, something interesting that happened was that I cracked my limited edition Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles watch in front of the White House. I hadn’t been that angry in a while. Toward the end of the day, we stopped at the Lincoln Memorial. Stopping at the steps, I looked out into the horizon. Something told me that my worst years were over. It was a positive feeling. After that little epiphany, we went back to the hotel to get ready for our presentation.
Finally, the big day came. Anthony was ready, I was dressed up fairly professionally and we were ready to knock out this presentation. As the third and final day started coming to an elegant end. Finally, it came to our presentation. As everyone watched attentively, Anthony and I gave everyone a blow-by-blow of the game and what it was about. The result? Standing ovation! We were loved by everyone. Things went great. Anthony was overjoyed and I was happy myself. This was a crowning achievement in my heart, and his as well.
So that was my trip to Washington D.C. I hope that you enjoyed reading, hearing or however you acquired the knowledge about it. I am certainly blessed to have a program like R.A.M.P in my life, and if you ever get the chance to join up. I implore you to do so. You have no idea what you’re missing. I’d like to recite a line one of the youth said during this trip “Say no to drugs and say yes to jumping!” Farewell.
Learn more about RAMP and check out some of the related publications:
- Guideposts for Success
- Paving the Way to Work: A Guide to Career-Focused Mentoring
- Making the Right Turn: A Guide About Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System
- High School/High Tech Program Guide: A Comprehensive Transition Program Promoting Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math for Youth with Disabilities
- Career Exploration in Action: An Innovative Strategies Practice Brief