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A Home Away From Home
Throughout my life I have come to learn that focus is essential and consistence is key. I use the mistakes that I have learned from and the lessons that I have been taught to be able to establish who I am. Growing up at the E.O.Y.D.C. became my home away from home. Being there helped me to understand the importance of discipline, independence, and patience.
I first started going to the E.O.Y.D.C. in the fourth grade taking West African Dance under the instruction of Sister Linda Johnson. When I first started taking the class I was slightly skeptical due to the fact that I’m shy in new places and it seemed hard, but I stuck it out. Even when I felt like I wanted to quit I never gave up. Through plenty of tears and soreness of muscles it turned out to be worth it. I was given the opportunity to dance in different shows and eventually helped to teach hip hop. Even though the foundation of the class was African we also learned many things such as: swing, ballet, hip hop, modern, praise dance, and even a little step. While dancing, I also started playing basket ball. It was my first time playing for a team and I wasn’t very good, but I still made the best of it. Beginning basketball help me to progress and play basketball in middle school. Overall I took African dance for six years and played basketball for one year.
The next best thing I experienced while at the center was my Big City Mountaineers trip. It was an entire week away from home in the woods. This was my first time away from home for a long period of time. It taught me to appreciate my life and all the things I took advantage of; especially my mother. If I got scared my mother wasn’t just a phone call away. I had to stick it out and grow up. I was constantly hot and I got tired of walking up and down the hills, but looking back on it now I’m thankful for the experience. During the trip I noticed small things that I may have never noticed on a day out in the city. I paid attention to small plants, different birds, the way water flowed, and even the way rocks were formed. At the end of the trip I received the award for most observant and still today among my friends I am known for paying attention to the most detail.
The E.O.Y.D.C. gives many opportunities. The most memorable opportunity that I have was my tenth grade year. I was given the opportunity to put together a talent show. I don’t remember how the idea came about. All I knew is that I wanted to do something. After getting the permission to go through with it I made flyers and posted them different places and passed them around at school. A close friend of mine and I hosted auditions for a week. Not knowing how many people would actually show up we had a good turnout. I never had the opportunity to try and do it again because I started to get more involved in school where I joined the dance club, began acting, and was introduced to Summer Search. (Summer Search is an organization that helps high school students prepare for their college experiences.) While doing that I still visited, and even today when I gave the chance I come back and visit my home away from home.
Even as I currently attend Clark Atlanta University as a Political Science major, I miss going to the E.O.Y.D.C. every Tuesday and Thursday from four to six taking dance. I believe that a community that is able to work is able to stays together and if the opportunity presented itself I would come back to help the center and maybe even teach a class of my own. I greatly appreciate everything I was able to experience at the East Oakland Youth Development Center.
By: Simone Loudd