Free Like A Bird in Yosemite

High school senior, Rosenda Sanchez-Avina, entered the ARC summer course in Yosemite a quiet and shy student. At first, she kept to herself and was slow to become close with her peers.  Rosenda said after the course, “One of the most challenging parts of ARC was being able to be open about myself and my feelings because I wasn’t accustomed to having people talk to about those things.”  By the end of the course, she had overcome this barrier.  She confidently read her metaphorical poem “Free Like A Bird” in front of a large audience and was integral part of the ARC student team.

Each day during ARC’s summer courses, a student is Leader of the Day and is responsible for making sure the schedule runs smoothly, that their peers are safe and comfortable, and that the day’s tasks are successfully completed.  Rosenda remembers, at first, when she was the group’s Leader of the Day, she didn’t feel comfortable.  She was reluctant to take charge of her peers and take ownership of the group’s development, but eventually, Rosenda grew to be one of the strongest leaders in her cohort. She remarked, “I learned how to take that role and how to work with others in a compatible way.”

When reflecting back on her time with ARC, Rosenda speaks fondly about the Youth in Yosemite Open House that takes place in Wawona. At the Open House, youth from different summer programs in Yosemite share some aspect of the work and how it has impacted their lives.  Her teammates Linda and Gus shared their poems for the first time and Rosenda remembers feeling proud to see them share and represent ARC.

Now with college on the horizon, Rosenda does not carry the same fears she had before ARC. “I used to be quite afraid of making mistakes and of large changes, but I am now more open to the idea of growing and learning from each situation.” She plans to enter her college life ready to take chances, seek leadership roles, and confidently make new friends in a new place.