On February 26th, 7 trainers from the D.C. WAIT Team set off to Bridgeport for a two day "training and refresher" trip,as we dubbed it. We arrived in Bridgeport at about midnight and were graciously taken in by the Breland family (where the brothers stayed) and the Zambon family (sisters). The next morning, we did a presentation for the Bridgeport International Academy (BIA) students at their morning assembly. After a short introduction by Aunt Kate, we performed “Wait for Me” and then each trainer had a short talk about their choices, dreams, and goals, and how they were each manifesting their talents in doing work that they love. The student body was very responsive and enthusiastic, especially since there were a lot of Bridgeport WAIT team members in the audience. Afterwards we had some open time, since most of the Bridgeport team had to go back to class, so we went out to explore Bridgeport (a.k.a. find a Starbucks and a McDonalds).
We returned in the afternoon to pick up the team for a performance at Dunbar Elementary School, where we performed for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes. The Bridgeport members were really excited about seeing us perform “Wait for Me” that morning, so we quickly taught them the song, and they sang along with us in the performance. It was really interesting to watch their team perform and see how they had “personalized” the performance for Bridgeport. The audience responded well to the performance—afterwards, the guidance counselor told us that he had never seen them so interested and attentive during an assembly.
We dropped everyone off at BIA and did a couple of interviews for a WAIT DVD that LightSmith Pro and Year of Service trainer Ilseuk Masuda have been working on, while a few other people went out to buy groceries and supplies for the next day.
The team met back up again at around 6:30, and we shared with the team some of our experiences, and they shared some of their hearts as well. We ended up talking and sharing with them for a couple of hours. It really deepened the passion of the team to reach out to people and to unite with each other as well. After we closed, a couple of the girls took everyone out of the room except for Sun Jae. Everyone was a little confused at first, until they realized that it was Sun Jae’s birthday and that we had gotten him a singing birthday card, therefore we couldn’t sign it in the same room or else he would hear it. We all sang “Happy Birthday” to him, the card sang “Twist and Shout”, and all was well.
On Saturday, we started out with breakfast with the team and the parents of the members. Since BIA is a boarding school, and almost all of the WAIT members go to that school, there are very few parents to support the team, and so the parent-child structure was a little lacking. We shared with the team the need for really dedicated parents, and the importance of reporting and everyone taking responsibility. The team dedicated itself to having everyone take on responsibility, and keeping things open and honest within the team.
In the afternoon we went out fundraising store-to-store. Bridgeport hadn’t gone fundraising in a really long time, and most of them had pretty bad memories of it, so we decided to introduce them to performance fundraising. We went out in teams of 5-6, and went shop-to-shop. Everyone had a really good experience, sharing smiles and songs and dances with everyone they met. One team met a man in a barber shop who offered to record with WAIT at the studio he owned. Overall we made about $300, along with the team’s totally new and wonderful memories of fundraising.
In the evening we did some more interviews for the DVD, and after a delicious dinner at the Breland’s house, we met back up with the team to set goals for the future. We got a lot of strong and tangible goals worked out, and then everyone went home for the night.
The next morning, Sunday, we left Bridgeport with a lot of confidence that they will do great things in the future. Thank you Bridgeport!
On Sunday morning, we left from Bridgeport to Worcester, MA, about a four hour drive. We met up with Sam Wada and Mr. Moik, who were parent coordinators of the MA WAIT team. They shared with us how the team was doing, and it encouraged us a lot, since we had never met the Worcester team and we didn’t really know what to expect.
After a quick lunch we met with the team at the Youth Center, and everyone introduced themselves. We were surprised to find that the team has about 30 members. The MA members then performed a couple of acts for us—two breakdance acts they had put together, their versions of “Save Yourself” and “Rose”, and a new dance that they had choreographed which included both brothers and sisters. We were blown away by everything; seeing everyone so dedicated and pouring out their love to us. It was really different to be on the audience side of a WAIT performance, personally I had never even watched a full performance from the front. All of us were so inspired and reassured by them. We felt so much hope for their team.
We ate lunch, and then we shared some guidance with the team, as well as reports on what D.C. has been doing and ideas and goals for them to use in the future. We then held a couple more interviews and left Worcester in the afternoon with high hopes for the future.
By Harmony Becker