I arrived early and sat alone, awkwardly, at a cluster of desks in the morning meeting room. Other presenters trickled in, affixing name tags to their finely pressed suits. Mine indicated GioSafari as my company and was pressed to the breast pocket of my flannel shirt. As we served ourselves and ate breakfast, folks made small talk about their jobs. I sat quietly and nobody talked to me - the curse of the introvert - while I stuffed my face with two large helpings of eggs, potatoes, and bread.
The Career Day organizer made some announcements and we watched a video about some great arts and music program they run in the summer. Perhaps this school wasn't so bad after all...
There were two other presenters in my classroom and we all spoke for two classes of sixth graders. I started things off for the first class, explaining the difference between "song" and instrumental music (the former having lyrics), and that I sing songs with important messages. I played my Protest Song for them and closed by fielding a handful of questions.
The second presenter was a marketing associate with American Express. When I told her that I was at OWS, she joked that we wouldn't get along. The third presenter was a librarian. I talked with her about Word Up and we bonded on books. They were both very cool peeps and it was great to meet them and hear about their work.
For the second class I started with a song, briefly explaining beforehand, "I write songs that have important messages. So you'll have to listen closely, I'm going to ask you questions about it afterward." I played Why Lie, I Want A Beer, a first-person tale of a homeless beggar spilling his guts on a subway train. The kids engaged me as I led them through some questions about the character and his story. They also asked good questions and responded well overall. I explained that I write stories like that because I see homeless people all the time and my heart breaks for them. In my compassion and through my art I am compelled to give voice to their stories.
After the kids left I talked with the rest of my team for a bit and then we all went our separate ways (I went busking on the subway). The overall experience was pretty neat and I'm really pleased with how Career Day panned out. Though I did feel a bit insecure going into it (when will I ever afford to buy a suit?? Lol..), I am now all the more confident in who I am, what I am passionate about and the work ive been called to and gifted for.
Moreover, I was subtly reminded today that wealth and privilege can indeed be leveraged for good and don't necessarily have to be used toward greed, violence and injustice; and I can't help but wonder whether I was looking into the bright eyes and faces of the future revolutionary movements for peace and justice. I can only hope that my message and example somehow helped to nudge them in that direction.
Thanks to MS223 and to those awesomely attentive sixth graders for helping to make this Career Day a particularly poignant one.