“This Generation Has Our Backs”

We came across the below Facebook post by a new Iowa BIG partner, Amanda Zhorne of Barnes and Noble. Amanda works on two separate projects with our Iowa BIG on Boyson students and staff. 

I impulsively snapped this photo (left) as I walked out of Iowa BIG yesterday afternoon. Not sure why, other than I’ve grown to quickly love the people inside this place, so I wanted to carry a piece of it around with me.

If you’ve talked to me in the last several weeks, you’ve probably watched my face light up as I go on and on about how much I love my BIG teams. Guys, these high school students are amazing. If you worry about the future of our world, spend some time with these students. You’ll walk away thinking, “we are going to be just fine.” This generation has got our backs.

I have two teams, eleven students total, and every single one of these young adults is going places. Each is amazing in their own, individual way. And I am a better person for knowing all of them.

Above: Amanda Zhorne of Barnes and Noble pitches one of her two projects to Iowa BIG on Boyson students during Partnerpalooza in August, 2017.

One team talks about the tough stuff fearlessly. Inequality, mental health, racial relations, gender issues, food sources, and more. They talk about not having the answers. They talk about wanting to learn. They talk about reading, listening, growing, helping. And they always talk about the need to talk about it all. They’ll be extending these conversations out into the community eventually, but I am so lucky to get to be in on them now.

The other team is passionately working to get books to kids who might not have them. Their drive to help others is so big that it takes over the room. They will do anything and everything to make sure they make a difference. When I talked about getting books to 5,000 kids, they talked about 10,000. When I say we should do a fundraiser, they say we should do ten. They think big and they act big. And our world is better off because of them. (And if you want to know how you can help them reach these goals, please let me know. There are big ways and small ways, but it will all make a difference.)

Iowa BIG on Boyson instructors, right to left: Liz Sheka, Becky Herman, and Mark Matson explain Scrum project management to students.

And don’t even get me started about the teacher for my projects. Educators are crazy cool already, but Liz Sheka is one of those special teachers that takes it to a whole new level. I want to learn everything I can from her, and I also just want to sit and have coffee with her, chatting and laughing all day long. She’s my kind of people.

Iowa BIG. This is the place that I find myself learning the most while laughing the loudest. These students are a perfect mix of smart and eager, bold and humble, motivated and patient, curious and fun. I’m not sure I’m teaching them anything. Meanwhile, they are teaching me everything.