February Newsletter Letter
Dear Parents, Caregivers, Students and Friends,
I sit in amazement while I listen to the real life experiences and personal stories that my “Black and Brown Boys” have to tell. What I hear is all but a recording of my life growing up and something I
continue to encapsulate.
A while back I was asked to gather a group of young male students of color – “Black and Brown Boys” – who might be interested in sitting and conversing about a topic that was surreal to each and every one of them. Choosing students was not a difficult task, given my relationship with many of my male students. I felt very comfortable inviting them. However, asking them to share their personal life with strangers was daunting.
The strangers, unbeknownst to my boys, were going to be members of The Boston Foundation. I anticipated their apprehension. I wondered how forthcoming they might be among adults they had never met. But to my surprise, they were eager as they sat around the table and began to share. We heard about real life struggles as young adults, about the hard decisions of how to pay for essential needs, the constant fear of dodging bullets in their neighborhoods, of wanting and having a desire to attend school to succeed and escape. They made me envision living in their shoes.
As the conversation continued, the topic shifted from their experiences to ideas that could help young males of color remain engaged in school and in their communities. My boys began injecting ideas so fast that the adults had to slow them down and ask them to repeat just so they could jot them down. I was proud of how open they were in telling their personal stories and thinking critically to produce ideas.
A few weeks later they were personally invited to attend an annual reception hosted by The Boston Foundation. The boys were prepped about what to expect on this special evening. As the day arrived and I stood outside waiting to meet my boys, a feeling of pride overtook me. The reception gave them an opportunity to meet and greet some of the most influential decision makers in Boston, better known as the “powerhouse players.” To witness them transition out of their comfort zone and interact with influential people was an amazing experience. Left and right, they mingled and networked as if it were second nature to them. They walked up to individuals in a mature manner and introduced themselves. They carried a persona of business entrepreneurs, approaching strangers and engaging in dialogue and exchanging contact information.
Growing up in Boston as a young Latino male was very challenging for me. I was exposed to what my students experience today. History is definitely repeating itself. But now in my present role, I can impact the lives of those we all know so well – our students. They are overlooked by society for many reasons – not of legal age, not a taxpayer, not a productive member of society and so on. I am proud to be an advocate of my students. They deserve to be acknowledged and recognized, and they have shown us why.
Edgar Vasquez, Dean of Students