The Way Forward
by Autumn Gomez, TWU Youth Organizer
Do you ever think back to a moment when the world and your independence intersected?
There in front of you unfold many paths of life. Take a quick glance back and seeing “wrong” decisions you made, trauma that you suffered firsthand, and trauma of our families and communities. Do you remember things that made you move forward? Music, friends, a new book, a shining goal?
During my first few months here at TWU, I’ve heard more than one person praise service learning and youth organizing as reasons for moving forward. In fact, I myself have the Natural Helpers program to thank for introducing me to community service and organizing way back at age 12. As an adult, I happen upon others in the community who’ve once been involved in the same or similar programs. They are confident, great communicators, have an amazing work ethic, and most importantly, they know that their jobs make a difference.
We call ourselves Team A’Gin: Celina, Nathana, Leticia, and me. Our program has many facets which requires flexibility, communication, and good humor. One facet is the A’Gin Healthy Sexuality and Body Sovereignty Project’s curriculum, which is going to reach seventy 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in the area this semester.
As I write, we are very lovingly putting together course binders and editing the smallest details of the lessons we’ll be teaching. The curriculum has recently been rewritten. Our lessons about informed decision making and non-violent communication now correlate with the growth cycle of corn. First, the farmer asks for Earth’s consent to plant the seed, which sprouts, pushing its way through the Earth’s crust, maturing, becoming a member of the community. The mature corn is our metaphor for someone who has the means to feed the people and help produce the next generation.
Through the A’Gin Summer Youth Program, Team A’Gin was lucky enough to share time with six future leaders from our community. From those first shy days, we watched them blossom with each new experience. They pushed themselves hiking, passionately worked with traditional clay, tried unfamiliar traditional foods, and painted their personal cosmologies on wooden shields.
By the final celebration, our young people worked together without being asked, arranging carnations in mason jars at each table, and gathering around to make duck shaped bowls out of foil for the bread served to their families.
Stepping back, watching each young person working happily with purpose, there was a sense of accomplishment in the air. The memories of being young came back: the confusion, the questions, being newly empowered to make decisions. As we ended the summer, we hoped our intentions for our youth would be lived out. It’s comforting to know that these lovable, energetic, intelligent, young native people are carrying the tools they need to make those hard decisions as they move forward into their lives as teenagers.
Please join us for “Sweet Night with A’Gin” on September 27, 2017!
Indulge in divine desserts and hear more stories from A’Gin project participants
at this free community event.