This is not Andres’* typical Saturday morning. The alarm goes off very early. Waking up his first thought is that it must be a school day—it’s usually what happens when the alarm goes off this early. But his mom reminds him this is no school day. This is the day he will be speaking at City Hall! He and his mentor Michael* will be standing in front of Alexandria’s City Council to speak about Casa Chirilagua. This is a big day!
His first order of business is to look sharp. He and his mom agree he should wear his best suit. A year ago this suit was too large for him, but now that he’s in the 2nd grade it fits perfectly. As his mentor and his mom’s friends arrive, Michael and especially Andres enjoy compliments on their suits.
Driving to City Hall Michael asks him,
“Are you nervous?” Andres responds, “No, I practiced my lines with my mom and dad, and also at Kids Club.”
Michael then says, “Great! I’m so proud of you for doing this today. You are so courageous! So brave!”
“Thanks” he replies, “But what does that mean? What does ‘courageous’ mean?” Michael explains, “It means you are confidently doing something today that might be scary to some people. Not everyone is as brave as you are! You’re going to do great!”
They arrive at City Hall. The group of Andres, his mentor, his mom and her friends from the local community ascend to the big room. It is here where he and Michael will soon speak. A nervous feeling briefly sneaks into him, but he knows deep down inside that he is prepared and that he will do well. His mom holds his hand while they wait. His focus shifts to their plan: give his speech to the City Council and then give Mayor Silberberg a special gift from he and his mom—a handmade purse from Guatemala.
Now the big moment arrives! Andres and Michael stand up and approach the podium. They are both a bit nervous but very ready. Michael first introduces Andres to everyone in the room. He then lowers the microphone and Andres begins:
“Good morning everyone. Thank you for helping Casa Chirilagua. We are very happy because they help us to learn…thank you.”
Everyone responds with a round of applause. Andres did it! This is what it means to be courageous. He watches as Michael continues speaking. Then as they conclude, Andres gives Mayor Silberberg her special gift; the purse. She comes around and gives him a hug. As they sit down the Mayor looks right at Andres and personally thanks him. She says that she hopes he comes back.
Afterwards, Andres is glad that he and Michael went to support Casa Chirilagua before their very own City Council. Now when he hears the word courageous he can recall his experience on this day. With the support of his parents, his mentor and the community, Andres has learned what it means to be brave and courageous.
UPDATE: Mayor Silberberg recently invited the mentor and mentee back to City Hall, accompanied by some friends and Marissa, our Elementary Programs Director. Read coverage here in Alexandria’s Connection Newspaper.
* Names changed for privacy