Saturday, May 26, 2007

Best Masters Team in the Country is Right!

Having just returned from my two week hiatus from reality (at 1AM this morning), I am up with the time zone confused kids and kindly letting my husband sleep in rather than heading off to swim practice. It's a sacrifice. I'd really like to go to practice this morning, especially after getting an uber early morning energizing from Tim's latest non-cryptic message about our team's newest plans.

If you haven't noticed from the things I write and the things written about me, Tim's plan for our team to "adopt" and nurture a classroom of less than privileged kids in Menlo Park to invest in their futures is RIGHT up my (mostly child related) social action alley. I am so proud to have a coach and friend that is motivated to use his business to help others nearby who are less fortunate than most of us on the team. I'll be at the Sharon Heights Country Club on June 26 and I hope you will too.


Emmit said...

I am very weary of this idea. Being a former teacher in Ravenswood School District I learned you can't "save" those who don't want to be "saved" and it is a cultural bias and arrogance on my part to think certain populations need to be rescued. I am worried as well about the motives--to be the best? Community service should not come from a competitive space. I think this idea is frought with cultural misunderstandings and could lend to in-gouping within a team that does not need to be segregated. There is something fishy about meeting at a country club to talk about helping the "less fortunate".

Nori said...

I grew up in South Oxnard. My neighbors worked in the strawberry fields. I went to Hueneme High School, the worst high school in Ventura County in terms of test scores. (Judy Strauss is friends with my high school Calculus teacher, and can tell you something about it.) My dad is a teacher in Oxnard. I understand your perspective, having grown up amongst many students with little interest in getting an education, and having a dad whose efforts to get his students interested in learning are often frustrated.

I still want to approach this effort with an open mind and heart. Providing resources for students who want to work hard at their educations can’t be a bad thing, can it? Personally, I’d like to learn more about the way “I Have a Dream” works, and hear something about its past successes before I dismiss this proposal. I can’t be sure that it won’t be helpful, and I really hope it can be.

I hope you aren’t right about this creating divisiveness in the team. I think whenever anyone tries to accomplish anything positive, there will be some people participating to boost their own egos. And even if people have the best of motivations, there will always be people who will automatically assume that they don’t, and criticize them. I’ve found both these things to be less true of Menlo Masters than other organizations I’ve belonged to, so I hope you are wrong. Fearing that this will happen seems like a poor excuse not to try to help other people.

I should let Tim speak for himself about his motivations, but I’ll take a stab at defending him anyways. I already think we’re the best team, because we’re my team, and everything I love is the best thing in the world. I don’t think this is competitive or divisive; it is just the way human bonding works. If you haven’t already, read the “Little Prince” or George Orwell’s “Reflections on Gandhi” to understand what I mean. I know literally that my friends aren’t the best people in the world, and Menlo probably isn’t the best team in the whole world, but that’s what it feels like to me. As long as I understand that other people have the right to feel the same way about what they love, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

Emmit, I’ve never met you, and I don’t think any less of you that we don’t share the same opinion about this. I respect your frankness, and acknowledge that as a teacher you may a different background than I do from which you draw your perspective. I thought it was worthwhile to add my own, and I hope others will remain open minded about this. I appreciate this opportunity that we’ve been given to learn more about a potentially rewarding way of contributing to bettering our community.

sarah said...

you go, nori. seriously, some people can be pushy with their philanthropic efforts and misunderstanding of what recipients of these efforts desire and need, it's true, but i have enough faith in tim and in this team to believe that we will support less fortunate folks in productive ways, be open to hearing what we can do and what we can't do, and support each other in making positive change.

jade said...

Hi all,

As someone pretty involved with this effort, I'd like to say, first to Emmit, I deeoply appreciate your view and your epxperience. Please know that the last thing any of us want to do is to "rescue" anyone, and I totally agree that there has to be motivation for any success to occur. I see this program as providing opportunity - but, as you will hear on June 26th, the kids who might get involved require a certain degree of self-selection. This is NOT to be "nice" - it's to offer the possibility of success.

As far as being at Sharon, we debated that - but Tim felt (and I agree) that we wanted to underscore that this is serious, not just a chance to party. There relly isn't anything fishy about it, and I hope you don't take it that way.

And being the "best" (again, not speaking for Tim but having some sense of what he hopes for), getting involved with the community is not something most Masters teams do - and by doing so in a significant way does set us apart.

I'm happy to respond to any other thoughts. Thanks, guys - it will be a good thing.

John Goldman (lane 3, 7 am)