Student Reflection: Stories from The Crossing #learningisbigger #standagain

More than a school, Anastasis seeks to be a movement of good in our community and beyond. We partner with non-profit organizations from around the Denver Metro community. This week, Team Fink hosted some men from Denver Rescue Mission’s The Crossing to join us for lunch and stories. Below are student reflections following the visit:
The Crossing
Feeling uneasy, I expected the worst. I have to say, I was scared. I was thinking that I wasn’t going to like it. When I thought of homeless people, I always thought of they got kicked out of their homes because they didn’t pay their rent or they lost their jobs. I was closed minded, I didn’t think much of what was happening on the streets. When we sat down with the men from The Crossing, I was surprised. I thought much differently of how they would look and how they would act. I was a little scared, but also a little interested and excited about what was about to happen. They were so nice and funny! They were calm and positive people! I felt myself smiling when they would laugh or if they would just smile! When we all sat down and after we introduced ourselves, they began to tell their background story’s. During Seth’s, I could tell I was on the edge of crying. I had a painful lump in my throat and tears stung my eyes. The lump grew bigger after everyone told their stories. At that moment when we were discussing and talking to them, my mind felt open and my heart ached. Bella, Chris, Michel, Jay, Todd and Seth all were so brave and so strong. Their stories were so inspiring, emotional, and heartbreaking. Even through I only meet them for a couple hours, I felt that I built a relationship with them! I’m so honored that they shared their stories, rapped, played guitar, read poetry and sang for us. I’m so proud of them! I will forever take on what they all taught us, God will always have your back, he will provide for you, when you turn yourself to Christ, he will save you. Thank you for showing me that there is hope, even in darkest times. -Grace
Life isn’t always as simple as it seems. There will always be ups, downs, twist, and turns, there will never be a direct straight path to the destination. “To be simple is not always as easy as it seams.” (Ferdinand Holder). Hearing the stories of people that went through some of the low parts in life and recovered showed me that they aren’t afraid to share their stories and let others see what they are really like. Hearing someone’s story is the one way to know what they are really like. When I think of someone with the label “homeless,” I think of people with old clothes, dirty hands and feet, and rude attitude because that is what I was told for so long. Some homeless people are less fortunate, but today my perspective changed because I got to meet and hear the stories of homeless men and not just judge them based on what was on the outside. I was encouraged today to always believe in myself, and always know that God is with me. May you men know that God is with you no matter what, and that sharing your stories has encouraged us all. — Cam
Looking out the window and seeing the street corner that you used to live on makes reality blow up in our face. You have come so far, but you still have so much in store for you. Your words take form when they reach your lips but they are still incomplete until they have taken the form of peotry or been added to a melody. Knowing that a story hides behinds every face makes it personal. It opens our eyes to see that our differences are our similarities. An ordinary man living in an ordinary world could have their life turned upside down because of one decision. We don’t realize that we are standing on common ground until we hear stories and began to realize that we are more similar than different. Looking out the window and seeing the street corner you used to live on allows you to understand that your past doesn’t define your future.
Psalms 16:8
Thank you for sharing your stories!
Makayla Au
Hearing stories, connecting. Learning to not judge one another but learning that we are more alike than different. Learning that their past does not put labels on who they are. It does not reflect the person they are now or who they will be in the future. Because of this the next time I see a homeless person, a broken person I will know that. “We are all broken that’s how the light gets in,” (Ernest Hemingway). I will know that every person I see on the street has a story. You can’t let your mistakes define you but you can let them mold you into the person you will become. Connecting with everyone today I saw the greatness in their hearts, I saw people striving every day to be better than they were the day before. I hope I can learn to be able to have the motivation and self confidence to make my way through the hard times like they did. I will carry this experience with me for the rest of my life letting it guide me and direct me to have greatness in my heart like the people that sat before me today. Thank you for sharing your stories, may God stay with you in your journey ahead.
—Ella
Each of these men hold a new and whole different story. Their stories related to me and many I know. They too have gone through trouble. I learned that God does not want sin no matter what. Chris empowered me to never give up. Before today I thought all homeless people held the same story. I then learned there is another story behind one’s story. I did not feel sympathy for any homeless people before today. Seth’s story showed me to forgive through hard times. Chris’s story taught me to persevere. Jay’s story taught me to stay on track. Michael’s story taught me to face fear. Bella’s story taught me to be passionate. Todd’s story taught me to be a leader. Above all I have learned to keep going. I must say thank you for putting a new “perspective” on the homeless. —Oliver
Life has ups and downs, but the way you live is your choice and your perspective. Today men from Denver Rescue Mission, the Crossing came in today and told us thier story. What stood out too me from all there stories is that they don’t let their past define them. They  do a really good job about living in the present . The men, especially Chris, taught me to be content with my situation no matter what is thrown my way. He had a rough life and he had a bad leg that he might have lost. He was okay about it he did not worry because what would happen would happen. Lastly I realized that my problems are not as big as losing everything. This morning I couldn’t find my other shoe, I was so frustrated but listening to their stories put my story in to perspective. I have like five or more shoe options. I did not lose everything my problems are mostly first world ones. Their stories impacted me more than I can even proses. Thank you the to these men, Seth, Jay, Todd, Michael, Chris, and Bella, for sharing your stories whether you read this or not. You made me think to live in the present. I know if you guys work hard through God you can continue to get back what you lost. -Noelle
A tree is a home to some and paper to other. Just like trees, these people made great use of what they were given. When it could be used in a pointless way they made great use of it and turned it into a house. The story that touched me the most was Jay’s. Such a normal guy, like the rest, gone so different then what he probably dreamed of as kid. The only reason I was touched so much by his story is because it was close to our school. He brought his daughter to the church our school is in. I’m so glad that all of them changed their lives around to become happy. The best part was that all of them are successfully making use of their time and enjoying life to the fullest. I hope you maintain your faith and soberness. Thanks for coming in and inspiring me to continue to keep my life on track.
Sincerely,
Will How
Don’t let your past define you. Today was an amazing experience. I always thought of homeless people as people who were addicted to drugs and alcohol. Today gave me a different perspective on how stories really uncover the truth. These men today were so sweet. The fact that the were so vulnerable to tell us their stories of not the best part of their life really open my eyes. One story that really stuck out for me was Chris’s. His story was so encouraging to keep looking on the bright side. Every time he was told that he might never have a leg again he just told them it’s ok God has my back. He had hope. Each one of these six men had incredible stories and I will forever remember them. Thank you Jay, Seth, Bella, Todd, Michael, and Chris for showing me the past does not define you. — Gabby
Everybody makes mistakes, but nobody should have them held against them. Every one of the men had an extremely powerful story and I would love to hear more about each and every one. Everyone was so understanding when we talked about our problems and they tried to help. I thought it was extremely powerful when Michael said that, “it wasn’t a disease that spreads, it’s a choice that you make.” His story meant a lot to me and I can learn so much from him in the future. Everyone was extremely brave throughout everything that they told us. They are not homeless, they are not drug addicts, but they are imperfect people just like us. Overall thank you for willingly sharing your story and overcoming the hard times.
– Nicole
   You can’t change what’s in the past but you can change the future. When I think of the homeless I thought of dirty people who spent all their money on drugs. Now I think of people who made a mistake. Every one makes mistakes, even me, but the the men from Crossing are known for their mistakes. Sometimes it seems impossible to get out of a hole that you dug for yourself. Change is always possible. No one really likes change. Change can help and it’s not impossible to get out of the hole you dug. The people who came today proved that. What I learned from the people who came today is to never give up. Thank you for coming today and telling your story. Hearing your story is something that will impact how I view the homeless for the rest of my life.
~Kaleigh
It is crazy how your life can change in an instant. You can go from playing golf, then be at the lowest point in your life. The key is to stay on track and focus on what matters. When you get down, and you learn that God is on your side, it becomes easier to power through. “If you are in a bad place surrounded by bad people you will do bad things”(Michael), but the more you are around good people and are in good places the less you do bad things. Thank you to the men at Denver Rescue Mission for showing me that God is by my side and to stay strong through hard times. — Caeleb
People are people and the past is the past. The past is where you learn. Learn from the mistakes. Your past does not define you, for you are you and the past is the past. You will always have a choice. The choice of accepting that everyday is an opportunity to start new, or to suffer in the memory of your past. However, there is a third choice. The choice of accepting who you are through Christ, our savior and creator of life. This choice will always be a choice no matter the circumstance. Jesus will forgive your past and help you with you with the present. The love of Jesus is unending for those thirsting for love, the poor and needy, the homeless and the hungry. Face the world with courage, no matter what you do, and know within your heart that God is always there for you. Guiding you through this journey we call life. Even in the darkest moments. For those are the moments where Christ helps you the most to see the light in the darkness. “Stars can’t shine without darkness” (unknown). Without the suffering and the pain, we cannot accomplish anything.
Stories are told and stories teach. Each story has a lesson, whether its obvious or hidden. The stories I heard Tuesday, November 28, 2017, were stories that I will remember for the rest of my life. Astonishing stories of the lives of six men. Men who have been addicted to drugs and alcohol, but have overcome their addiction through Christ. Chris, one of the men, told his story. Listening to his story, I realized how much more he has been through than I have, yet his positivity throughout his life is extraordinary. He had the knowledge of Christ being his savior and that was enough for him. The men have faced trials throughout their life, but that didn’t stop them from becoming disciples of Christ. “Meeting with the wrong people at the wrong place leads to doing the wrong things. But meeting with good people at the right place will lead to doing the right things” (Michael). All of these men had sad but yet heartwarming stories. This experience to talk with these men really opened up my mind to think about being grateful for everything I have and that everything happens for a purpose. Thank you for coming in to talk to us. This experience was truly inspiring to me.  -Kuyla Kim
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Denver Flashmob of Good (Student Reflection) #commentsforkids #flashmobofgood #standagain #learningisbigger

Today, Team Fink headed downtown as a flashmob of good. Armed with hotdogs, lemonade, and a smile they served 150 hotdogs in 45 minutes. They asked names, listened to stories. They connected.

Their teacher is still reflecting. While at the park serving hot dogs, a park director stopped to talk to him. He told Fink about the hundreds of heroine needles that were picked up in the park just today. He thanked him for what he and his students were doing, but mentioned that when food comes to the park, some of these homeless never have to leave the park and it can exacerbate the problem. Rather than leave the conversation there, Fink invited this park director to come to Anastasis and share the complexity of the homeless problem Denver faces. He wondered how Anastasis students might be able to help be a part of the solution. He also plans to invite our friends from the Denver Rescue Mission to be part of the conversation.

This moment of spreading good, will extend into inquiry and our students will attempt to connect and learn from a variety of perspectives. They’ll learn about unintended consequences and delve into design thinking.

Today, they reflected on the experience:

Feeling the joy in my heart, I can feel the memory of the outing-burn in the back of my mind. Looking at the once unknown faces turn into friends faces and their gleeful smiles light up the very park we were just in, handing out hot dogs and lemonade. At one part I was picked to travel around the park in search for people who maybe hadn’t heard the word about our hotdogs. Shifting my gaze from the sidewalk to the persons face, I saw grief and sadness. They also had their heads down, cigarette in on hand, slowly disintegrating. Walking up to them, feeling the fear build its way up inside my stomach and up to my throat. Hearing the shuffle of our feet their head slowly rose, looking at their eyes I can see sadness and, surprisingly, hope! Asking if they would like some food, I could see their eyes light up. One in particular was a old man with billions of wrinkles, but when I looked in his eyes, his eyes held me in a trance. Bright, bright sea-foam eyes! When we were going to move on he gave us a toothless smile and a wave. I smile back feeling happiness spread through out my body. In a way, I felt that this field trip changed me in a good way, seeing all of these people, who probably have been through so much, give us school kids smiles and hugs!  Showing me that people who have gone through so much can still be rich at heart and soul. –Grace

 

Love on people, give them food, and learn their story. Loving, eating, and telling stories are universal languages. When you combine them, spectacular things can happen. Like Andrew, he is a wonderful man, he shared about our opportunity we have as kids to be the change and the hope we give him. When flowers, butterflies, kids, and food are around, conversations spark up and smiles spread. When you give you are also the one receiving. When you serve people food you get a frown that turns into a smile, a story to listen to, and a lesson to learn from. I loved today and seeing smiles spread. –Noelle

 

Just a smile can make someone’s day. Taking the time to look someone in the eyes and smile can do a lot. It can show them that they matter when the person doesn’t even know that themselves. It can make them smile at other people and have a domino effect. Giving someone a cup of lemonade and a hot dog brought out smiles in everyone. It showed me the caring person inside of everyone I met today. It didn’t matter what you did or where you came from. It was just a bunch of people smiling and eating hotdogs. –Ella

 

A name is gift given at birth. A name like “Andrew” is the story of that human. If a name seems so precious and so easy to obtain, then why don’t we just ask someone for their name. If you refer to someone by their name then you can learn and grow in joy from the happy conversations. –Will

Student Reflections: Metanoia with Amal Kassir

Last week, spoken word poet and activist Amal Kassir joined us for Metanoia. Team Fink wrote some reflections and responses to Amal’s visit.

Amal at Metanoia

Don’t be afraid to be the elephant in the room. This was my biggest take away. Embrace who you are and be the best you can be. I thought that Amal was so inspiring because she embraces the elephant and even though at some points she felt worthless she got right back up. “I believe that peace is something you can find even during war time” I also love this quote spoken by her because she believe that there is hope in the dark. Like the kids in the war zone they made the beauty in brokenness.  –Alli

I am the elephant and I stand out but you hide in the corner hoping not to be judged. I embrace the elephant but you run from someone even noticing you. Do you like being the elephant someone asks me? How do you become the elephant someone asks me. I Say, “To find the elephant within yourself you need to go to the place that is most uncomfortable for you and figure out why it is uncomfortable.” I take all your judgment in but you long to be the same as everyone else, but I don’t care because I am the best elephant that I can be. I don’t care because black or white, male or female we are people. –Lauren

All of our hearts beat to a similar rhythm. Wisdom sings into all of our rhythms and pumps life into souls. Wisdom speaks to those who have a hijab around their head. Wisdom speaks to those that have more melanin coursing in their skin. Wisdom even speaks to those who pray a little different than you. Wisdom speaks to you. Wisdom speaks to all. Amal showed this to me today. She showed me that we are not that different from each other. The only thing that makes us different is the way we think. The way we act. But these differences are essential. Your differences may make you seem as an elephant, but it takes an elephant to change the world. It takes someone different from the rest. Our hearts beat to a similar rhythm but it is the different tempos that change the world. It is the different beats that define you. –Macie

Even in the foggy skyscrapers and the thundering ground I will stand tall with strong feet and rise above. I’ll Rise above all of the clouds that scare me. I’ll play in the shooting rain. We will come together hand and hand and rejoice. And the language through our feet will be our getaway. The laughter bursting out of our mouths will be our song. And the dirt on the ground will be our canvas. You are the creator in the storm. You are the hands that splash in the puddles. You will find the beauty in the brokenness. You will rise above.  –Charleigh

My biggest takeaway from Amal’s visit is when she spoke of little Syrian children making playgrounds out of war zones… finding light in darkness… discovering beauty in brokenness. If young children in war torn nations can turn two tank barrels into swing set posts and form finger paints out of dirty water, then could not we turn our own war zones into swing sets? –Jackson

Elephants are in the room and elephants are even in you. Be the person that stands out into the crowd. Embrace your beauty of the elephant because you can’t unelephant yourself. Get to know someone by simply asking their name and about their family. Amal said “The elephant is the person holding a mirror to the world”. If someone is judging you, it’s not because of you and if you think it is then you need to hold up a mirror to show yourself. You can be the change by getting out of your comfort zone.”History was never made when people were comfortable.” Even if your in a battle find the beauty in the brokenness. It takes an elephant to change the world.  –Maddie

There is a elephant deep in side me. It longs to come out. To breathe the open air without being judged. It wants to come out, but I bury it deep inside me. I forget about the Elephant I once was. The Elephant I wish to be. Fear stops me. It claws and scratches my heart, refusing to let go. I live my life, hiding who I am and being the person you think I am. One day the scratching stops, an my heart starts to heal. I try to dig deep inside myself to find my Elephant. But I can not. It is buried deep in my heart. I can not find it. I scratch and rip up my heart once more. This time I don’t think I can heal. But I try. So I travel, throughout the world. Searching for the part of that I ripped in two. I find myself in a village full of children. They scream, laugh, and play. Their dirty feet kicking flat soccer balls. I get on my knees and ask one of the little boys his name. He tells me, “I don’t know my name.” My heart leaps, and I feel it start to heal. Let me write my own story, and give me the glory in being who I want to be.
–Makayla Au

What Amal had shared was outstanding she took my understanding on society to a deeper level. I am now starting my path to be an elephant, my strength is growing. Let’s turn every bad thing into a swing set. Amal is a blessing from God to be able to stand out of the crowd and be the rebellion. –Mitch

What was the best part of your day (Amal Kassir). Bad always has good you just have to dig deep to find it. Some times you feel like nothing but the world has something to find your self in. Amal tot us to always found the good in bad situation. When you lack confidence to be the elephant in the room, the difference maker, the different person than the rest then look to find it. Your elephantness comes through you find confidence in it. Be the change.  –Noelle

The main takeaway I took when Amal visited, was her futbol analogy. How she explained soccer is the one sport that the children enjoy. The one sport that takes away the sadness, and replaces it with the words of feet. With the words of goal. With the words of celebration. Where one of the greatest celebrations World Cup, comes to them. Where they feel like they are the super country. Where they can be alive, and live each moment with the words of their feet. That in time of death, and problems, and where they are living in WWIII. The cure is a simple game of futbol. A simple game of goal. A simple game of celebration. A simple game of feet. A simple game that depletes death, and bombs, and guns, and all sorts of weapons. A simple game where they only objective is for the ball or can to go pasts two poles. That give you the freedom to say goal. That give you the freedom of celebration. That give you the language of feet.  –Jack

Be the voice of those without the voice, be an elephant in the room and embrace it, nourish it. Amal is an amazing women, her words flow so poetically and her message is powerful. She told us about how kids build swings and games out of a war zone and how no matter what they still play soccer everywhere. If we still play soccer in the midst of war, hope is present; this universal language of soccer translates into love and community and hope. Amal inspired me to become the elephant in a room and speak not only what I feel, but what the world feels. I hope to absorb her confidence and use it in life; I wish to make people uncomfortable once in while and even become uncomfortable myself. Sharing my spoken word was also amazing because, like Amal said, there is so much power in writing, reading, and thinking for ourselves. I’m so honored to know such a phenomenal woman and to know that I can become a phenomenal woman myself.  –Megan

Student Voice: Hayley

Hayley is a primary student at Anastasis Academy. Today, she shared her view of Anastasis.

Anastasis Voices

Noelle and Hayley

 

“I like to use the iPad to do my learning so much. What I really like is that we do plants, we get to grow them. That inspired me to grow plants at home. Now, instead of doing a lemonade stand in the summer, I’m going to do a plant sale.

The work [at Anastasis] is fun. It’s never boring here. I like that when we do things I have choices to do it. We don’t do the two sided worksheets and that’s all. We get to do learning all different ways. I like how we do math here because I actually understand it. It helps me be smarter with math.”