A picture I took on the way up to Mt. Defiance.
Probably one of the most difficult hikes I have ever been on. The trail up to Mt. Defiance was 5 miles on an upward incline, and I have never felt more accomplished than when I finally reached the top. Looking over the mountains, I saw Mt. Rainier in the distance and realized the true beauty of Seattle. You have the excitement and bustle of the city but also the elegance and tranquility of the mountains. I can work downtown during the week and also enjoy the beauty of the Cascades on the weekends.

Lately, I have been hearing from Seattle locals that this is one of the best summers they have had in a long time. When I first arrived in Seattle, it was temperate with no humidity, then the first week it rained for about three days in a row. I thought to myself, "they really weren't joking about the rain!" But ever since then it has been gorgeous every single day, almost like clockwork. I can wake up, not even check the weather and bet on a beautiful day in Seattle.

It's strange how this change in weather has been parallel to my experience working at the Austin Foundation. With the unexpected passing of the founder, Anna and I have been piecing together information, resources, and faculty members. The first week was very daunting in that we were basically thrown into the program with very little background and were given the responsibility of running the summer program. Anna and I were scrambling to deal with the youth, while also managing the 5 or 6 coworkers at the foundation. The first couple days were very frustrating, but just as the rain stopped and the sun came out, our service work began to improve. Anna and I developed a reliable system that allowed for the days to run smoothly and really helped the youth to focus and learn the concepts associated with health and fitness.

As the days continue to get warmer and brighter, the relationships with our youth continue just the same. I was talking with one of our junior trainers (Eugene) about college and was happy to hear about his ambitions and excitement to eventually attend Hawaii University. Eugene talked about his love for surfing and how he has family in Hawaii he often visits. These are the conversations and moments that make all the frustration and work completely worth it. I hope in the last couple weeks I am able to improve these relationships and have some lasting impact on the youth at the Austin Foundation. 

Nick Branson
Duke Student '15

07/28/2013 11:20pm

As someone else who works with youth, your last paragraph really struck a cord with me. Just as we seem to be able to count on good weather by this point, no matter how bad my morning is going or my previous night was, I can count on my interactions with the youth to pick up my spirits.

When it comes to discussing future plans with your youth, do you normally let them come to you, or is it something that you actively try to bring up? I find that when I'm talking about the future with my group, it's normally because they brought it up, but after several weeks of seeing how competent and hard-working they are, I find myself feeling more and more compelled to press the issue with them.

10/14/2013 11:33am

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.


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