By: Madison Harry
This week’s blog post is the personal reflection of a recent Summer 2015 intern in Project Transformation. Project Transformation Oklahoma is a non-profit summer literacy program for underserved elementary children through the Oklahoma United Methodist Church and AmeriCorps. Learn more about their specific ministry and service model here.
By: Madison Harry
My time in Mangum, Oklahoma at Project Transformation (PT) was surprising. I was surprised to see how quickly I grew to love 50 elementary students, how much I was blessed by my team, and how many people in Mangum welcomed me into their families. I even surprised myself, at times. I wouldn’t trade my time with Project Transformation for anything. I am so grateful for the small and big events in my life that led me to that truly transformative experience.
Not a single day went by that I was not surprised by our kids. I love them so much and still think about the silly or sweet things they did. They surprised me with their willingness to have fun, their energy, and their reading improvement. Having one-on-one attention and reading help for 8 weeks made more of a difference than I could have anticipated. The kids are truly exceptional, and getting to spend time with them was a blessing. They taught me to smile more and to laugh harder. They showed me that I had more energy and positivity than I thought I did. I’ll always be grateful to our kids for the love that they shared and the love that they brought out in me.
I never expected to grow so close to my fellow team members. The six of us had different backgrounds, and I couldn’t have dreamed that we would mesh so well so quickly. I suppose when you are all in a new place, living and working together, you don’t really have a choice! I’m so glad to have shared my PT experience with these wonderful women! Together we poured into the lives of some amazing kids, laughed everyday, burned ourselves while making popcorn, hiked mountains, went on road trips, and ate dinner together every night.
Mangum opened her arms to us, making us feel loved and welcome! The smallness of Mangum allowed us to feel a part of the whole community. We’d go to Hamburger Inn or the grocery store and make friends with people who approached us to thank us for investing in their kids. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for my home during my PT summer.
I was also surprised by myself. I learned that I’m a better teacher and leader than I realized. I’ve been studying education for the last three years, but there’s nothing like real-life application to show you where you need to grow and where you’re doing well. Both personally and professionally, I have spent the last few years working on with being flexible and with rolling with the punches. This summer showed me that I’m ready for those challenges. I will never forget when my team told me that they thought I was “chill.” I laughed so hard at that. I was used to words like “perfectionist,” but these women who lived and worked with me for ten weeks saw me in a new light. It’s not everyday that you can see the fruits of years of self-awareness and intentional behavior. My summer with Project Transformation showed me that failures are part of the teaching process and part of life. I’m a better person and a better educator because of my time with PT in Mangum.
Want to learn more about Project Transformation? Find out how to apply for an internship for Summer 2016? Join us on Sunday, September 20th as PT Associate Director, Charlie Ludden, preaches in church and join us afterwards for a PT Info session. Learn more here.