Hi, it is Megan Ryan again, here with my second blog entry (I changed the title to Part 2 since I have completely lost track of the weeks at Homework 'n' Hoops).
Today was the first day at HnH where I was inspired to write a blog entry. As the title reveals, I found a mentee after my own heart (it's just too bad it isn't my actual mentee).
As I was sitting at the "green" table waiting for my mentee Jasmine to arrive, I was soon shocked to hear a little voice to my right. "You're wearing a Barcelona jersey." it said, quietly and matter-of-factly. Indeed, I was wearing my authentic Xavi Barça jersey today and was wondering if any of the kids would notice. Clearly, one had.
His name is Israel, and he is younger than my 5th grade mentee and usually sits far across the room from the green table, but today felt compelled to make the trek to where I was sitting. I responded to his inquiries about whether Barcelona was my favorite team (his too) and what I thought of the players. As if to test my loyalty, he asked if I could name the whole starting lineup. Obviously, I can do this in my sleep, so I started with the defense and then he took over in the midfield, to prove he knew just as much as I did.
Soon he started bringing up previous players from years past, which made me wonder how he knew these names when he could only have been like 5 years old when they played. I was quite enjoying this little Culé's company, but soon my mentee arrived and I had to turn my attention to her, but not before Israel informed me that it was soccer in the gym today and asked if I would be there. Though I wanted to say yes, I already knew that I would be resigned to an afternoon of carpetball, since Jasmine doesn't like going to the gym.
Now, I know that as a mentor I am supposed to respect my mentee's decision and do whatever they choose to do, but I admit, I tried to persuade Jasmine to going to the gym to play soccer. But she adamantly told me that she didn't like soccer. So, instead we went and played carpetball, but not before Israel asked me one more time if I was going to play with him. I was disappointed; there is only so much carpetball a girl can take.
After a few rounds of said game, Jasmine told me she wanted to go to the gym, but it turned out it was only to watch for a few minutes the rather scrappy game of soccer going on. Here, Jasmine told me that she doesn't like soccer because it hurts her feet, and that she loves basketball much more and practices every weekend with her sister as well as plays on a team. I was impressed that she actually did like a sport since it didn't seem like she ever went to the gym, even when they were playing basketball.
The rest of the evening went much the same as the other nights, but I was still reflecting on the intriguing events at the start of the day. First of all, when we were watching the soccer game, I was struck by the fact that all the players were boys, except for one female mentor who had to be there. It was also interesting how Jasmine wanted to watch for a little bit, but not play. This separation of the genders showed me some of the active gender roles that are apparent at HnH, and also in society as a whole.
But then again, when Israel and I were talking about FC Barcelona, it didn't seem to matter that I was a girl. He wasn't shocked at all; he was just slightly surprised to find someone so knowledgeable about the game who wasn't Hispanic like him. It was more of a racial wall that was crossed than a gender one.
So, in short, I think I found the mentee that I was truly meant to be with. Not that Jasmine isn't a fun girl, but I feel like I can't ever connect with her like I could with a fellow soccer fan. Some things just transcend all barriers.
(PS, sorry this was so epically long, I was motivated. Also, I think I will continue mentoring at HnH next semester as well, it's fun, and I feel like I learn something every time I go there, sometimes even more than the kids ;) )