The first day I walked into Shortridge, I felt nothing but fear. Not because I was terrified of something happening, but because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had been around kids my entire life, but not teenagers. My mind could only revolve around a single thought, “I don’t understand teenagers. I didn’t even understand them when I was one.” How could I relate to students now when I was a senior in college, when I couldn’t even do it when I was 16? And how am I supposed to teach them if can’t even relate to them? That all changed when I walked into the classroom.

Being naturally shy, I felt awkward about approaching the students who were all eating their sandwiches and talking to one another. But with a slight push towards a chair, I found myself surrounded by students asking me questions. And as I answered, the more I became comfortable being around these kids. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be when trying to relate to them, and I didn’t feel shy anymore.

The teaching aspect of Shortridge was harder for me to get a hang of. All though I knew what to write about, I didn’t know how to go about teaching them. That was until I spent the day with Roberto. Two naturally shy people put together to write a poem, one may assume that nothing would get done and there would be awkward silence. However, the exact opposite proved to be true. As we talked through the prompt and ideas about what to write, something clicked for me. Teaching this didn’t haven’t to be in the traditional way I was used to, but it could be more fun. I started to relate the prompt to real life events, telling stories about the past when I was a child. I could feel myself growing into the role of a teacher as I helped Roberto create a poem. That day I felt overwhelming proud of him and what he accomplished, and I knew that I could continue to do this at Shortridge for the rest of my time there.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was going to get from these kids at Shortridge. No matter what I thought or felt about what I was getting in the beginning, I could not have been prepared for what I would receive in the end. The truth is that it was so much stranger, so much madder, and so much better than I could have ever hoped for.

Shannon Hiday is a senior Arts Administration major.