There is a reason my High School graduation pictures are so joyous and happy. In every picture I am seen with an illuminating and glorious grin. This is because I never thought I would have to go back, and thought thrilled me…..little did I know when taking those pictures that I would be visiting 3 years later, as a college student, asking favors of the current teachers and students.
I had a very successful and happy high school career, but, that feeling of awkwardness and not fully knowing who I was is still associated with my high school memories. Much to my initial chagrin and doubt, this visit was painless. This time I walked through the office doors fully knowing who I am, knowing I had a purpose and that it was a damn good one. Arantzazu Garate, also a former Freedom High student, longtime friend, current classmate, and I went back down memory lane walking onto Freedom High School’s campus in Tampa. We both felt giddy hearing the afternoon announcements and seeing each other with visitor’s stickers on, which seemed quite odd; had we really come this far?
Our goal was clear. To begin a school supplies drive at Freedom, to help raise school supplies for children in Afghanistan and to satisfy our objective for our current USF Honors College course “One Pencil Can Help Bring Peace”. We both realized this would be a mouthful to explain and even trickier to recruit believers, as we have been turned into, for such a cause. After all, High School kids are only concerned about one thing, other than their own grades, and that’s getting out once the bell rings. So, we were nervous.
As it turned out, the day of our visit seemed to be a good one. It was club day, usually leaving students and teachers in a lighter mood. It was also 2:30 pm, so all the day’s battles had either been won or lost. Regardless, we immediately realized, after approaching our first teacher, that this would be a success.
Our approach was to, initially, go in and introduce the idea. We didn’t expect such intense interest and haste about participating in the project. “Whenever you want to come in”, “How’s tomorrow?”, “Can you make posters?”, “I’ll make my classes have a competition for school supplies”. Before we knew it 30 minutes had past and school was done for the day. Zazu and I had huge smiles on our faces and were ready to waltz into classes and present right then and there, but, since that wasn’t an option we went to the post office to gather boxes for our projected hundreds of school supplies we knew Freedom would soon supply. So, we cleared out the post offices floor supply of large flat rate boxes.
Now, a weekend and a day have passed and the anticipation has grown. Posters have been made, boxes and jars decorated, and flyers printed….we, in our own way, are armed like the troops; both, fighting to see a good cause through. We will be presenting tomorrow afternoon and again later in the week. It’s one thing to present a cause and receive followers and supporters, but it’s another to feel so passionately about something that you cannot stop talking about it. I know both Zazu and I’s passion will shine through and reach the kids of Freedom High school. Being the catalyst of such an ironic nature of the children of Tampa, Florida’s FREEDOM High school giving children FREEDOM in Afghanistan through school supplies is a feeling I never thought I’d be privileged to have this Semester thanks to “One Pencil Can Help Bring Peace” and Freedom High School! This really does speak for the notion that education keeps giving, figuratively and literally.