FutureVision Campus Crawl 2011

11 May

Post by AmeriCorps Volunteer, Beckie Harmon.
FutureVision is the YWCA’s program for teens.

FutureVision Campus Crawl: April 12th-14th
Destination: Charlotte, NC!

The only crawling was the counselors back to their homes on the afternoon of Thursday April14th. 

The trusty YWCA buses pulled out of the parking lot at 8:00am Tuesday morning on a mission to instill drive, inspiration, and a vision in our students’ minds about higher education.  The trip did just that and more.

The first stop was at Johnson & Wales University, where we toured the Colleges of Business, Management, Hospitality and Culinary Arts. Most impressed with the Culinary Arts, our kids were frantically taking photos and asking questions; fascinated by the hands-on approach and intensity of the program.  At Johnson & Wales you begin your college experience in your field, hands on, and finish up with your general education requirements. This model allows students to really get in there and decide if they are making the right career choice.

Thanks to the navigational guide, Mr. Nathaniel, AmeriCorps Volunteer, we made it swiftly to our hotel for check-in.  While driving through downtown we heard the “oohs” and “aahs” from the kids as they looked up at the towering skyscrapers.  Supervised down time with the kids was more relaxing than expected, it’s really cool when they start to act like adults and you can just hang out. We unwound, got ready for a walk around downtown, and then headed to dinner. 

I think we were pleasantly surprised when all the kids pretty much passed out at the quoted lights out time, except for the boys: video games!  We woke-up bright and early and headed on to The University of North Carolina at Charlotte where we learned a little bit about self-guided tours!  UNCC is a beautiful campus and very busy, it gave the kids a good idea about what they would see on a large university campus.  King’s College was next where we got more of the small proprietary feel, great for them to see all sides and options of the college experience.

After touring for the day it was on to Freedom Park for some Group Building Activities with Mr. John. These are moments when you remember that we are all a bunch of kids somewhere on the inside and we need to just run around and laugh. Next, off to eat some pizza and watch some basketball.  Conveniently, the YWCA and the Charlotte Bobcats share the same team spirit color: orange!  The seats Ms. Rachel got were awesome. And I’m not just saying that. We walked in the stadium and heard under some breaths, “aw man! And they’re good seats too!”.

Walking back and overhearing the conversations between kids about not wanting to leave and how they can’t wait to go to college, to be independent, to grow up, I think we all start to realize how we can’t wait for them to have that either.  We have seen them grow into these responsible, respectable young adults. What a cool journey.

After a quick sleep we are back at it again.  We packed up and loaded the buses.  That is, after we got the compliment from the manager of the hotel: “You were the only group of high school students that I’ve had no complaints about. At all. In 10 years.”

We hit up the Art Institute of Charlotte on the way out of town and I don’t think that I speak for just myself when I say that it may have been the favorite.  They were super inviting and personable, offering all sorts of different specialty majors and certification programs. The professors of different departments stopped to speak to our kids while on the tour. We saw fashion, culinary arts, pastry, music production, video production, photography and more.

We hit the road around 11:30am headed back to Asheville. The kids slept until we hit Shelby for lunch, then they all fell back asleep until we got back to Asheville. Definitely the quietest bus ride of the year.

This type of trip is not just about introducing the idea of college living; it is about moving outside of a comfort zone, opening up to people, picturing yourself in another place as an adult.  The trip, made possible by the lovely women of FutureVision, Rachel Herrick and Erinn Huntley and Katie Clayton, and the YWCA of Asheville.

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