08 March 2008

Big Change In HOT-lanta

Our cross-country trek was definitely starting to wear us down as we approached Atlanta. We were about to pass the 5,000-mile mark, which meant we had spent 100 hours (4 WHOLE DAYS, 8 Daylight days) on the road. Our booties ached, our ears burned from listening to the same 500 songs on repeat and our inability to find fresh fruit was making us edgy (potassium is important!). Needless to say, spirits were not high and this sign seemed to speak volumes: “NO.” No to what we didn’t know, but it still spoke to us.

That is, until we met Jordan of Children’s Bilingual Theater. Thankfully, she had an event planned for the day we were in town, and what an event it was. At 10 years old Jordan saw a serious need in her community for bilingual fluency support. The daughter of a Spanish-speaking mother and English-speaking father, Jordan was raised in a bilingual home. When her family moved to Marietta, Georgia – a community with a large immigrant population – Jordan noticed just how divided the two populations were, and she wanted to bridge that gap.

Since she began four years ago, Jordan has produced four bilingual plays that have involved hundreds of young people. In addition to these larger productions, she hosts several smaller events in schools and pre-schools that focus on bilingual literacy – events like Dr. Seuss day (launched to celebrate the birth of Dr. Seuss). She was in full-costume, sitting a-top a giant “Cat in the Hat” hat reading “Oh The Things You Can Think” to several classes of three to seven year-olds. The kids loved her, and it was evident she cared a great deal about them also. What’s next? Growing the organization throughout the Atlanta region!

We left Children’s Bilingual Theater to spend the evening with Laura, founder of Wild and Water. Wild and Water aims to water-safe economically disadvantaged youth in the Atlanta area by partnering with club swim teams, swimsuit and goggle makers and community organizations that all donate their time, facilities and goods to the cause.

In just over one year Laura has been able to water-safe more than 200 economically disadvantaged youth and collected $34,000 in in-kind donations! We joined in on a swim cap decorating party, which brought me right back to my 13 years as a competitive swimmer, though I did look a little bit ridiculous wearing my cap with my “street clothes…”

All-in-all, a really great day. There has been a slight schedule change so I’ll be returning to DC with Malena tonight before heading on to Montreal Sunday. Taking a few days break to catch up on life, but be back soon for the second half of this great adventure!

P.S. Happy 25th Birthday To Malena! YEAH!!!

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