College field trips are part of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles whole child education. Exposure to places the Dreamers wouldn’t normally see is important for self development. And of course, college field trips begin the students’ journey to high school graduation and the desire to attend an institution of higher learning.
Our student Dreamers were lined up around the corner waiting to get on the bus. They kissed their parents goodbye, and we were off to USC!
When the bus pulled up to the gate, Dreamers recognized instantly that we were in a different environment. As we exited the bus, they saw fountains, statues, and a lovely wide lawn. There was a burst of excitement. One of the Dreamers looked up and said, “This is college?” in a state of disbelief. He ran forward, skipping, and didn’t look back.
Dreamers understood immediately that USC is, in itself, a community with its own rules and guidelines. We discussed what living, eating, and socializing was like on campus. As we settled in, Dreamers noticed that there were students skateboarding. One Dreamer asked: “So you can ride your skateboard here?” and added, with a beaming smile, “That’s exactly what I’m going to do when I go here!”
Dreamers followed their “Mother Duck,” Program Coordinator Raquel Alvarado, under the beautiful trees on campus. Dreamers were hungry for lunch.
After lunch, Dreamers released some excess energy by doing an exercise routine with Ann Vitti, to whom the Dreamers refer to as “Miss Ann,” a superstar volunteer and supporter to IHADLA.
We were excited to begin the tour. After splitting into two groups, Dreamers were on their way…
One note about our Dreamers: they are certainly not bashful about asking questions. Queries ranged from, “What could I study here?” and “What is Marine Biology?” to “Can we watch the squirrels?”
Our tour guide did an excellent job of focusing and engaging the Dreamers in a well-rounded discussion on college life, academically and socially. We discussed majors and minors, working and living on campus, what scholarships are, and the diversity on campus. Dreamers left with a much better sense of what it takes to get into college and they promised to work hard.
Our tour guide was even brave enough to challenge the Dreamers to a race on the track. Pursued by a hoard of third graders, he was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the race! Afterwards, Dreamers inquired excitedly about the different sports offered at USC and were amazed to hear that there was a swimming pool on campus.
At the end of the trip, our little Dreamers were tired. They stopped to sit in the shade near the statue of Tommy Trojan. I couldn’t help but notice how perfect it was. There they were, wide-eyed boys and girls with so much potential, wearing t-shirts that read, “I Am The Future,” sitting beside the statue, which reads, “Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous, Ambitious.” The mission of IHADLA was crystallized in that moment – we will help them get there.