Better Men Blog # 3: Starting Young

Better Men Blog  # 3: Starting Young
vancouvercollege
  • School News

As I read over the comments our Grade 12 students are submitting to accompany their graduation photos in their final yearbook, I am struck by how many of them reflect on their earlier days here, and how, though they didn't realize it at the time, it was those experiences that ultimately made them into 'better men'. Read More...

Then I became aware that some of our youngest boys are already doing extraordinary actions that are shaping their character in profound ways. Two young brothers, Blake in Grade 3 and Felix in Grade 1, learned of our Bumpin' Bakery student-led initiative, which involves preparing baked goods during the school week and delivering them into the hands of the hungry on the Downtown Eastside each Sunday morning. The boys helped with some sandwich preparation, and, accompanied (as required!) by their parents, joined our senior boys on a Sunday delivery in January.

I'll let their mom and dad describe the boys' reactions to this initial encounter with our city's disadvantaged:

The boys were sad - especially Blake. He was sad to see what homelessness looked like. He noticed the dirty hands, and how they were eating with them regardless. It was very humbling. Felix was nervous (at first)....however, he was faithfully helping from the sidelines carrying bags, buying the groceries...

Eventually, after three weeks, Felix grew more comfortable and is now handing out food along with his brother Blake (who you can see in action below!). One of their more powerful experiences was an encounter with a young man around twenty who came up to Blake and Felix and said, "Look after your brother. You guys are best friends‎, so you have to protect each other." The boys and their parents had a good discussion about what this meant and why the man might have said it.

The power of this experience is not that it occurred in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada. The depth of learning and character formation that we are witnessing here happens because of the potent combination of experiential learning with support and reflection from family and school, all motivated by our Essential Elements that push us to stand in solidarity with the marginalized and the oppressed. As these two lads grow older and eventually leave VC, they will no doubt go out into a world that needs them to do just that...and I won't be surprised to read about their readiness for that task in their own graduation write-ups for their yearbook!