Reflecting on the Power of a Story

Posted on October 12, 2018

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Legacy Crossing youth at ESL Academy share their stories

ESL Academy
By Gillian Belcher, Summer intern 2018, Bachelor of Social Work student at Niagara University, Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty

I had the opportunity to spend my summer with the CNNC’s Community Centers. The community centers try to mix fun and educational programming for the kids. I had the opportunity to participate in both.

During the educational program, each center had a theme. At Legacy Crossing, we focused on the book Emmanuel’s Dream: the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah. It is an incredible story about a young boy born with a one leg. Despite the constant hardships he faced, he persevered and continually chased after his dreams. Emmanuel himself once said that “in this world, we are not perfect. We can only do our best.” Though this is something that can be  hard to grasp, Emmanuel and his story are proof that we have to accept the imperfections, difficulties, and setbacks that we face in order to keep going after our dreams.

Along with the help of some of Legacy Crossing’s other incredible volunteers and interns, I had the pleasure of running the second and third grade group. We decided to take the essence of perseverance and storytelling to empower oneself and others as the themes of the week. The kids wrote beautiful letters to Emmanuel and created their own unique stories.

After we read the story they expressed their understanding of Emmanuel’s story in the letters they wrote. The most important aspect that came across in their letters to Emmanuel was their ability to connect with Emmanuel. They saw themselves in his story. They were fascinated that he is from Africa, like many of them. In the story, he is able to overcome struggles, similar to the challenges they have had to overcome growing up in camps and moving to a new country.

In their stories the kids wrote about where they are from, their families, their challenges, those who have helped them, what they love, and what they want to be in the future. Originating from countries like Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Congo, Burundi and more, they all find themselves here in Greensboro, North Carolina chasing their dreams despite the hardships and pushbacks. They are constantly working to not let difficulties in school and with friends stop them from reaching their dreams of being our future policemen, doctors, and firemen.

Though my group was young, it is incredibly important to give a voice to our youth, like Emmanuel had in his story. In the book, Emmanuel says “being disabled does not mean being unable.” If we can take his idea and apply it to our own lives, we can take all of the things that the universe stacks against us and turn them into something inspiring like Emmanuel did: creating the possibility of making our world a much better place. The more we show kids that they can do and be whatever they want despite their struggles, the more they will believe it and strive for their goals throughout their lives.

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