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Building Connections

As I peer out the window of the subway on my way to work and gaze upon the New York City skyline, I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I reopen my eyes only to see the sun reflecting off the magnificent buildings once again and I think to myself, wow this really is my life. I realized in that moment the connection I was beginning to build with this city, my city.

I pause my music and take a moment to reflect. It is my second week in my new home, in my new job. It was not an easy transition by any means and my job definitely demands all of my mental strength as I live each day with these young girls who have experienced trauma and loss on a scale I cannot always relate to. Fortunately, building connection with people does not always mean understanding or relating to anything or everything they have been through in their lives. Sometimes building connection is simply offering to accompany a participant on a doctors appointment or even saying a simple good morning at the start of every day. I see the connection that the staff has with the girls and this inspires me each and every day.

Each girl at my work has a PC or primary counselor. The PC is responsible for their youth and is expected to try to build a strong connection. One night, one of the youths started to get very physically violent and started to destroy the recreational area. Her aggression escalated and she started to verbally threaten her PC. At one point her PC was pushed and unfortunately medical personnel had to come to evaluate the youth. As medical personnel were speaking with the youth I found her PC and she was visibly upset and shaken from the incident. She took a minute to collect herself and I went downstairs to talk to my supervisor about the situation. What I saw next was not only inspiring but honestly one of the strongest examples of dedication and connection that I have ever seen. I look over to see the youth being transported to the hospital and her PC right be her side, holding her hand and calming her down. Despite being shaken and upset, the staff member was able to comfort this youth during her time of need.

This struck me on such a deep level. After witnessing a very frightening situation, the staff member was able to use their connection that they had built and be the one to calm the youth as she went to the hospital. I felt so inspired by the staff's strength throughout this incident and I was reminded of how important it is to build connection with the youth and to draw on that in times of crisis. I continue to learn new ways of creating connection every day in my placement.

Building connections is pivotal to my position as a Youth Development Counselor and I believe it is essential in life to be able to form genuine connections with those around us. It is important to reflect on our own ability to be vulnerable with one another and ourselves in order to build relationships with each other. I have been learning to be more vulnerable with my community within my new apartment and am very excited to experience the bonds that are being formed with my roommates. We are all experiencing this year of service coming from different parts of the country and from different walks of life but we are all bonded by our hearts to serve.

This journey is only at the beginning but I have already learned so much about the world with an entirely new perspective and lens. For now, I will continue to reflect on the new relationships and connections that are forming within my workplace and home. For now, I will continue to pinch myself every morning on my way to work as I cross over the Hudson and gaze at the magnificent concrete jungle that I now call my home.

Written by Shannon Sophy Marian Hall Brooklyn Community, 16-17 


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