Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In the Presence of Maya Angelou

This past Friday we gave the teens a choice to continue our traditional Friday night Game Night or to go see Maya Angelou at the Northwest Hwy Barnes and Noble. The group was split in half. The girls wanted to see her; the boys did not.

Making an executive decision about what would be most beneficial to everyone in the group, I decided everyone would go see Dr. Maya Angelou speak. After all, it was an opportunity of a lifetime...and it was FREE! Knowing she would arrive around 7:00, we had decided to leave at 6:00. However, when we called at 4:00 to find out more details, the store employee informed us that there were only 150 seats available and people had already started arriving. The Americorps members overseeing Teen U and Mid Teen U scrambled to make phone calls and push the teens to hurry home from school so we could leave. Around 5:00 we had finally gotten the last permission slip needed.

The store wasn't overly crowded when we got there and we were able to find seats about halfway back. We sat and waited...for about two hours. At 7:00, they raised the black curtain they had set up as if they were revealing a piece of artwork. It seemed odd but I guess, in a way, Dr. Angelou is that precious and rare so why not??

At her first words, the audience began to silence. However, in the 30 seconds to a minute it took the audience to settle down, Dr. Angelou had finished speaking. She was ready to sign books...and we didn't have the wristbands needed to have that opportunity. The teens were disappointed. They couldn't understand, despite her age and breathlessness, why she couldn't/wouldn't say more.

In hopes of them taking home something from the experience, we drove down the street to Half Price Books. I purchased 5 Maya Angelou books and we did a drawing to see who would get to take home one of her books. I watched the bravado of the boys, but I also saw the interest some of them showed in knowing more about her.

After purchasing the books, we quickly drove back over to Barnes and Noble just in case she might speak her words of wisdom. Luckily, right after we got back, she did say a few more words which, I can only hope, were enough to inspire the teens and help them understand her greatness.

Here is a video from the evening. Unfortunately, because of youtube's strict rules these days, the video doesn't have any music with it (until I figure out how to use OpenSource music). However, music or not, I always find the words of people in our Education Department completely inspiring and encouraging.