Saying I "volunteer" with DCFYI doesn't quite capture how I feel towards DCFYI as I've never felt like I was volunteering or serving, or whatever word you want to use. Really, DCFYI facilitates relationships and relationships are a two-way street where both sides learn, grow, and with DCFYI, have an awesome time in the process. Getting to know these teens has become one of the highlights of my life in DC. They have taught me so much through their stories, how they approach life, and their graciousness in sharing this with me. DCFYI isn't something I do or a program I go to, but a larger community that I've joined and absolutely love.
Mentoring for me is also a way to change how things are done in DC. We can talk about statistics surrounding situations and neighborhoods that these teens have come from, but with mentoring, you're able to build actual relationships that cross all sorts of divides.
There is also something to be said about the type of support that a mentoring relationship offers. I love talking about real life struggles, questions, and experiences, and hearing my mentee share how she sees the world. Getting to watch my her grow, not just in school and life decisions, but as a beautiful young woman is an honor.
And outside of all of this, I've learned that I actually don't know anything about current musicians or texting, and I've realized that hearing "You're cool" from a teenager is one of the highest compliments we can receive because it tends to mean that we've earned their trust and showed them how much we care about them in the process.