For What It’s Worth

It is astonishing to see the transformation in rapport among we (the college students) and the students of IDEA McAllen. Facial recognition helped put names to students in many of our classes and we were able to engage with the students in more depth. Not surprisingly, it was refreshing to listen to the students more so than our first day on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Many of us asked students questions along the lines of “What is your favorite/least favorite part of the school day?”, “Do you feel as if you have enough support from the teachers and administration?”, and “What has been the most memorable experience you’ve had at IDEA McAllen?”

Inspirational, informative, and brutally honest are words and phrases that best describe the student’s responses towards some of the aforementioned questions. While it is important not overshadow the statistics that speak for themselves such as 100% college matriculation among all students at IDEA over the past seven years and virtually all test scores improving dramatically since the inauguration of IDEA McAllen, it is worth reflecting on the struggles that IDEA McAllen students (and for that matter, students nationwide) suffer from regularly. Issues such as lack of individualized attention and support at home simply due to IDEA families lack of empathy in support of the demanding rigor associated with the IDEA school system because the overwhelming majority of students’ families have never even dreamed of college. For many families, before IDEA, college was an afterthought that they could not even dream of for their children.

As a senior in college who quite frankly has had it incredibly easy throughout my schooling, I greatly value the perspective of students, who at the age of eight and nine in some cases, have experienced more issues than I could ever possibly imagine. For what it’s worth, it is necessary for individuals apart of service opportunities like ASB F.U.T.U.R.E to gain a greater appreciation for the vicissitudes of IDEA students’ lives that many undergo at a young age. For what it’s worth, it is necessary to understand that while we are hoping that IDEA students are able to take away the message that college is not only important but the gateway to a better life, so to is the notion that we college students can learn just as much if not more than the students can learn from us.

Stay hungry, stay humble


Holy Matrimony, Batman!

Our trek began on Saturday, March 15, with our crew anxiously anticipating our experience in Boston. Collectively, we were all excited to make a difference for others during our Spring break and share memories together that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. With Gene Kelly and Aubrey at the wheel, literally, we embarked for Boston just after 11 am. Gene’s car adamantly sang along with Pitch Perfect for the first half of the ride, and naps were inevitable in the last few hours of the drive. Aubrey’s car was far more concerned with their beauty sleep and took full advantage of the spacious amount of leg room offered in their behemoth of a vehicle.  We arrived in Boston around six o’clock, unpacked, and Gene, Aubrey, and Carly went shopping groceries for the week. Once they returned from their grocery shopping fiasco, our wonderful cooking team that consisted of Aubrey, Ashley, and Zach created a wonderful breakfast for dinner. All I can say is, hmmm hmmm hmmm…. (Pancakes and sausage out the wazoo!) With a wonderful travel day behind us, we went to bed, prepared for a fun-filled day to come.

On Sunday, March 16, we all woke up for a nice breakfast provided by the hostel, which featured Belgian waffles and whip cream. Let’s just say it was so good some of us couldn’t fully comprehend how to eat (cough, Carly,…cough). As a group, we decided to brace the elements and all that Boston could throw at us and walk the first half of The Freedom Trail, a trail that covers everything about the history of Boston, from the Puritans, a group characterized by Protestant extremists, to Sam Adams, one of the Founding Fathers and the architect of American Republicanism that provided the framework for modern political culture. Our tour guide, Bryan, an animated Bostonian, regarded for his jokes and catch-phrases (the title of this blog included) who wanted nothing more than to marry Mary Dyer, was an excellent tour guide and certainly knew a lot about the great city of Boston and how it has come to be what it is today. Something that I took away from the tour that really had absolutely nothing to do with the tour itself was the passion and conviction with which Bryan spoke about his beloved hometown.

I don’t want to get deep on anyone here,…well, here you go! Many of us go through the monotony and dissatisfaction of living with something less than a fully authentic life; not wanting to work because it’s something we really don’t want to be doing, or listening to someone else’s conception of how we should lead our lives, etc. There’s an old adage; “love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life”. It would be an understatement to say that Bryan LOVED what he does. He is the epitome of a genuinely friendly human being who doesn’t mind what people think about him. At the end of the day, he finds sheer joy from giving historic tours of Boston to people. There is a great sense of humility, self-awareness, and happiness that is derived directly from making choices that confirm that you are where you want to be in life, whether that be a job, relationship, social status, or anything else. It’s funny how such a naive experience like taking a tour can render such monumental and powerful thoughts.

Anyway, the aforementioned is just thoughts that I believe are an integral part of our trip. While this may not be the most luxurious thing to do on our Spring vacation, it is important that we begin each day with a positive attitude and remember that this cause is for something greater than ourselves. This trip is what we make of it, and I know it will be one that I won’t forget!

Truly yours,

Ricky Lanzilotti