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Horizons Initiative
crazy ideas

Horizons Initiative

I'm involved with Horizons Initiative. I'm a Playspace Activity Leader, or PAL. Once a week I go to a shelter for homeless families and the other PAL and I play with the kids from 6pm-8pm. We've had a day of intensive training with H.I. where we were told a few things about what the kids need (in particular continuity, reliability, someone/something they can trust, freedom to explore and develop their bodies, minds, feelings) and how to run the gig. Never say "No", if you can avoid it. There's always a way to deal with any situation without using the "N" word, but you got to think fast! It's more challenging than any video game out there. The rewards are immense (like getting tackled by a bunch of 3 year olds all at once). It develops respect for the work of parenting and childcare in general. H.I. provides additional "training" through the PAL forum which hosts guest speakers active in the field of child development.  


The other activity is just taking off the ground. I'm getting organized to teach basic computer skills to Sudanese refugees who landed in Boston in the past 8 months or so. They are part of group know as "The Lost Boys", who fled southern Sudan when their villages and families were destroyed by the armies of the dominant northern part of the country, about 15 years ago. They were all boys who escaped and walked up to three months to refugee camps in Ethiopia, later to Kenya after facing more bullets from the Ethiopian government. Now many of them are young adults who are rapidly learning how to make a living and get education in american society. There is a web site on these people's plight in Sudan and also on the refugees in the US, By the way while these people are still getting bombed as of October 2001 (more info on the Sudan) I'm just a recent addition to an impressive network of volunteers and agencies who've been helping these men resettle in Eastern Massachusetts. The computer classes will take place at a very happening youth center called ROCA (brief description * 1999 article * web site?) in Chelsea, the city in which  many of the Sudanese young men are now living. We hope to get started sometime in early november '01.  
I have a web page dedicated to the computer class where I'll post schedules, materials, links, ideas, etc.  

I have to thank my friend Adnan for introducing me to both Horizons Initiative and to ROCA. He ran the School for Kosovar Youth which offered weekly classes for Kosovo Albanians re-settled in the Boston area. He's one of my inspirations for setting up this computer class.  

Other Ideas

From time to time I have a crazy idea.  

Like a software company that hires kids off the street. Mornings are for classes, afternoons for producing. The idea is to have a highly qualified staff teach them and chop up the work into manageable assignments. The challenge for the teachers/managers is not only to get the technical and business aspects of the projects to work, but also to make a match between what needs to be done and how the recruits might be able to get it done. Another challenge is to "let them go" when they're ready to fly with their own wings, and maybe join a more traditional company -- or start their own -- or do something entirely different. Can you envision a company where the main product is negative employee retention? Where there's a CEO, a CFO, but also a Chief Social Worker and a Chief Educator? I dunno, sounds pretty crazy to me.