Thursday, June 11, 2009

Youth Radio: Valencia McMurray on Homelessness

"Minneapolis - The Minneapolis Public Schools counted 5,500 homeless children in the district last year.

One of those students is Valencia McMurray, who graduated last Saturday from North High School in Minneapolis. She tells the story of her struggle to stay in school and graduate while living on her own."

These are the opening words to a story I heard broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio this morning.

This personal account of one young woman's journey as a homeless teen made me cry. Her strength and resilient nature made me smile. The whole narrative made me ask questions:

What does it mean to be 17 and homeless?
How would I navigate such circumstances? You?
How many of my former North HIgh students were in similar situations - that I really knew of? Could I name them? Count them? Who was I completely clueless about?
What are the odds of graduating from high school when you don't know where you will sleep at night?
What kind of wisdom does such a young person gain in this space?
What is my role or response as a listener? Do I have one?
How is Valencia McMurray my teacher?
What questions does this story make you ask?

This Youth Radio piece made me proud to know such powerful and resilient young people - and their teachers - who face such circumstances. I applaud MPR for their production and pairing efforts. I congratulate Valencia and her peers on their accomplishments to date! I look forward to hearing more from all involved....

I encourage all of you to tune in! Listen!

In peace, contemplation,

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