For my third year Co-op I traveled to the Windy City, Chicago, to join the circus! Well… maybe not exactly, but I was an intern for a non-profit organization, CircEsteem. Their mission is “to unite youth from diverse racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds and help them build self-esteem and mutual respect through the practice of circus arts.” (www.circesteem.org)
For five days a week, Monday through Saturday, I go to CircEsteem located in Uptown Chicago. One Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I am involved in helping out with the HomeWork & CircusWork program (http://circesteem.org/2010/01/02/homework-circuswork/) On Tuesdays and Thursdays I go with two circus instructors to a local elementary school to teach circus skills as part of their Outreach program. (http://circesteem.org/2010/02/02/outreach/). And on Saturdays I get up bright and early to go and assist with Saturday circus classes.
No matter which program I am working in I am always interacting with some amazing and diverse children. I have become friends with kids that are African refugees, Hispanic, and normal Americans. These children come to CircEsteem to learn new skills, receive help with their school work, make friends, and develop a sense of self-worth. Each day I learn something new from these children about circus, about the psychology of children, and about myself. To these children I am a teacher, a student, and a friend. I also have had the opportunity to learn how to juggle, walk a tight wire, spin a plate, walk on a globe, and use a gym wheel.
Without Antioch I may have never had the opportunity to learn about this amazing organization, meet amazing people, and learn these awesome circus skills. Sure, classroom education has and will continue to teach me the ideas of the world, but at CircEsteem I am learning social skills and circus skills that cannot be taught at the college level. They are skills I would need to go to a circus to learn!
Photo credit: CircEsteem