The first day of Hope in Focus can be described in three words: challenging, wonderful, surreal. The project had to unfortunately start a day later than planned as I ended up scratching the cornea of my eye on Saturday before I was scheduled to drive from Bismarck, ND to Duluth, MN. I don’t mean to be a big baby, but it the pain was unreal. I couldn’t fully open my eye until Monday morning. But luckily by that morning it was okay enough to drive, so I made it to Duluth by that evening and sat down on the bay walk and was able to write and sip coffee. I probably looked a little interesting, sitting there with sunglasses over my glasses and unkempt hair, but nonetheless it was nice to just “be” for a while.
The next morning, I arrived at the hospital and met with the Child Life Specialist at St. Mary’s who is also acting as my Site Supervisor for the project. After figuring out how to successfully navigate the large hospital (it has 4 buildings, craziness!), I was able to get all of my materials into the room I’m working in, checked in with volunteer services, got a cool badge from security, and grabbed a quick slice of pizza from the cafeteria. Delicious.
Then it was time for the project to start. And I’m not going to lie, I was SO nervous. Like a lot. That morning we had a few minor bumps in the road trying to figure out a new room for us to be in, projector problems, volunteer forms, and other paperwork. It was stressful. But it also wasn’t bad. We were able to work through everything and in the end, we got it figured out.
I’m learning that this experience, like much of the rest of my life, is a CONSTANT learning and growing process. Nothing is for sure. I ended up changing what the kids and I were doing on the fly; I adjusted to what felt right at that time. I made changes based on the kids I had, their conditions, their ages, and their interests. And although it wasn’t easy, it was really fun and rewarding. I have to remind myself that just because things are challenging that doesn’t mean they are “bad.” We went through the lesson plans for that day and then got to roam around the hospital and take photographs. The kids are so spunky and full of life and laughter, so it was refreshing to walk around and adventure with them.
My overall favorite part of the day (if I had to choose) was watching the kids take photographs and see their eyes light up when they looked at the photo they took. They would come up to me and say, “Look Medora, I think this is Frame within a Frame!!” It was so exciting. I love watching kids learn new things.
After the project, I went downtown, got a celebratory coffee, and walked on the shore. I was exhausted. Quite honestly, I smelled. But I had done something; even if it was a small thing. One day of Hope in Focus was done. I then changed and went on a hike, where I got to experience some really beautiful parts of Duluth.
Today is Day 2, and I’m nervous and excited and hopeful.
Photos are coming soon friends. Thanks for following along on this journey with me.