At the end of May, while in Atlanta, I received an email seven in the evening from my local library branch, regarding of my acceptance into their summer volunteer program! A little bit of backstory behind my outlook this summer and the program: at the beginning of May, I wasn't sure where I was going to end up, schedule-wise. I had to keep busy because if don't, I usually entered excessively sluggish dog days, and unlike the rest of my friends, there wasn't exactly an out-of-town residential camp to stay at or Pokemon Go to walk around with.
Ever since the seventh grade, I've expressed immense interest in this program, but it was always the craziness of the end of the year that held me back from sending in my application. This was the year I put my foot down and bellowed, "No more! I will be volunteering." I'm somewhat glad I did, though.
My shift time was on Wednesday evenings, from four to eight, the only exclusive shift that helps with the library's events coinciding with the summer reading program, and for the first month, I was paired with a girl who shared the same namesake as myself, thus allowing for the librarians to remember us easier and for them to nickname us as our names squared, like in math. It was a bit painful, since a part of the time, my brain was burnt out from finals.
For the nine weeks there, we would come in and create signs for the events with the die-cut machine on the top floor.
If you think the die-cut machine, or the entire making signs routine is easy to do, think again. You have to press your entire weight onto the lever, rip out the letters, and then paste them one by one. Sometimes, the librarians are kind enough to leave up letters onto the top counter, which is helpful to most people, but not to those who are fun-sized. I'm sure that most of the librarians who passed by, or even the security cameras, noticed a five-foot teenager jumping up to reach a six-foot high ledge.
The events were pretty fun to watch, most of the time, ranging from projecting family-friendly movies, song writers performing on the outside lawn, a miniature circus, magic acts, two puppet shows, to even bringing live river otters from the local zoo and educating young children. We had to help set up and tear down fifty to seventy seats per event, but that was okay. The best part of it all was that the other volunteer and I got to sit with one of our bosses and watch the entire time.
Watching all the summer events wasn't the only main project we did, since often the events spanned forty-five minutes. We ended up painting cups various Lego colors and then hung them up, as a poster, within one of the kid-friendly sections of the library! During that one Lego poster shift, I got paint all over my hands and shirt, and the one color that was incredibly frustrating to paint multiple layers of was yellow. Our main coordinator said that she had the other volunteers paint the yellow five times already, and it still have remains of the base color sticking out.
Two other cool projects we did involve Pokemon and superheroes. As I'm assuming you all know, Pokemon has made a huge comeback into mainstream society. So, within the teen section of the library, we made purple alphabetical book markers, each with a Pokemon corresponding to a letter ("A" for "Articuno," etc.). I couldn't get a photo of those, sadly, but I did manage to get photos of the superhero collage! The collage is made up entirely of superhero photos from the enormous box of comics donated by a local comic book store. There were so many, the volunteers were each allowed to choose comics to their liking-- I decided to settle on some Spiderman issues from the eighties.
The only time I met the other volunteers was during our bi-monthly meetings, scheduled just right before my shift. The other volunteers are a combination of eccentric and whimsical (yes, they relate to the world "weird," but it's hard to find a synonym which connotates the oddities in a good way). All of us would fight over the Capri Suns and chips as we made suggestions. Here are examples from the last, somewhat productive, summer volunteer meeting:
The Pokemon Go Expert: "That's what they said last year!"
Boy: (voice escalating) "They said that last year! Two years ago, three years ago, five years ago--"
Me: "You were only seven five years ago!" (covers laughing face and nose, everyone laughs)
Curly hair girl: "We have to spam Jon's email, guys."
Me: "Okay, new plan-- we're going to have to coordinate our emails to be sent at various times."
Curly hair girl: "Maybe there's a better idea besides coordinating emails...
Me: There is. We buy him a box of Spam."
One of the things that was suggested was using window markers to decorate the space, and so we colored the entire area. To all you reading: if you want to decorate your room, get window markers, because you won't get bored. It was fun watching all the passing patrons look at the collective fifteen teens that showed up that meeting to draw all over their previously spotless windows.
In order to shed more light towards the strangeness of the thirty-some bunch, let me describe what I found upon arriving at the after party. I was expecting that the movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, would be playing in the background while everyone helped themselves to some of the most expensive pizza that's every been bought in town.
Instead, I found everyone playing the rolling chair version of bumper cars. It so happens that on the fourth floor, where I spent a portion of my volunteering time, had computer chairs with wheels, and so everyone had the idea to crash into each other.
Did I join in on this?
Yes, I did. However immature it may sound to other people, it's really fun and therapeutic in terms of being stress-alleviating, almost child-like, and when you're teenagers, you crave having that innocent, no-responsibility fun of childhood.
The party went on, and for the first half of the time, we played improv games, introduced at the last meeting. It was super odd to have to play the game, "What Are You Doing," when the last person's words are the ones you have to act, and I had to portray Voldemort. "Bang," which is a game actually stylized like a western cowboy game, was exceptionally fun, and I practically dominated.
Luckily, there is a super huge chance that school-year volunteering is going to happen, which I'm super pumped for and is something I want to do. Thank you to the two librarians in charge with the program-- who probably won't ever read this unless I get published within the next several years--you two are the best. Thank you so much for not incriminating me when I placed a glue bottle which started to leak not out of my doing (though I was teased for officially owed a dollar and forty-eight) and letting me visit The Dungeon and the circulation room. It's been a fun summer.
Speaking of the end-of-summer, guess who is not ready to head back to school? I'm still brain dead, and ever since the last day of school, I've already know how my class schedule this year is going to turn out. I just need to physically and socially tire myself out to let out all of this unchained energy die out. On the bright side-- I have a lot of scheduled, fun posts coming out your way!
ALSO! If you haven't done so yet, please check out Freckled Minds once you get to an actual computer, a collective art society for teenage girls, by teenage girls. I was fortunate enough to help found this and to also design the site!