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Happy Birthday PI!

We’re a first grader now.

Happy Birthday PI, we’re no longer a toddler! We’re a full-fledged first grader with the ability to form sentences, to have cooties, to make conversation, and to express true desire toward our future. Through RV living, multiple office spaces, and now telecommuting, we’ve lived through a lot. Maybe we can even work on a train or sailboat in the future! I want to take this time to extend my gratitude to all those who have supported us through time, money, and intelligence to keep PI alive and growing. 

Most importantly, I want to thank the students who have played a part over the past 6 years, and those who continue to lead PI, for the inspiration that you provide me, our volunteers, Board Members, your peers, and the world. You are the reason that we continue to wake up with a purpose. Thank you!

I have felt frustration over the years surrounding our ability to grow, to serve students better, to include parents more, and to integrate in classes. Yet I am constantly reminded of the small successes that we have made to progress to where we currently reside. The most gratifying feeling is when – and hopefully teachers can empathize with me – alumni of our programs return to hang out and catch up. Some still ask for advice. In these precious moments, I let the clock fade into the background and invest in the moment of our conversation. Their relationships with partners and teams. Their anxiety around the future. Their desire to be the best they can with the resources they currently have. Their dreams. I get lost in their stories and I love when they invite me to experience their lives with them. 

As we engage more students and community members, I can only hope this is the basic enjoyment that everyone receives – a community. We recently added to our community by hiring our first full time High School Program Coordinator, Adrianna Davis, and three new Board members, Bryna Cortes, Maiyee Yuan, and Helen Dillen! Without diving too much into each of them (Read Carly’s blogs!), you should know that they are each extremely special women!

I will do my best to not subscribe to success amnesia, but let’s not ignore the grim reality of what we’re currently up against. Schools are now closed through April. Many of our students and their parents aren’t able to work. There are threats to the supply and food chains??. Communication around the pandemic is mixed with potential for casting doubt in the direction of progress. Need I go on?

If I were a pessimist, I may give in. Throw my hands up and walk away. Tell the students “Good luck, but there’s nothing we can do now”. But I am not pessimistic; I will do just the opposite. As a small nonprofit, we have the privilege of flexibly reacting to most situations. My aunt told me long ago that in moments of crises, people look to those who are educated. In serving our students who have handed an incredibly unstable world from wars, to climate, to now a viral pandemic, it is more important than ever they stay engaged with their education. If we fail to stimulate their curiosity to learn now, we will be putting them and our future at a disadvantage. 

Adrianna and I have been crafting plans for tele-programming and seeking student feedback and approval. We are actively using Slack as a communication hub which students have been trained on for 3 years now as the medium for learning, discussing, and connecting multiple times a week. We are continuing to ask the question “What benefits does this new reality offer our students?” and “How can we make these benefits accessible to them?” 

There is no doubt in my mind that the next three years will be extremely hard – not just for PI, but for our global community. This time in quarantine may just help each of us reflect on the most important issues for ourselves and our next generation. I will continue to work with Adrianna and our students to answer those questions so that we can persist to be a resource for their growth – a community for their souls. In these uncertain times, connection and celebration will spark our stamina to get through adversity ahead. Happy Birthday Passion Impact – here’s to another 6 years of service! 

With warmth and a tele-hug,

Stefan

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