It Takes a Circus To Raise a Child

By: Vi Bui, Youth Mentoring & Volunteer Programs Coordinator

Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff

After a week of rainstorms around DC, the Mentoring Programs end of the year barbecue scheduled for this past Saturday had to be canceled. To our luck, we had the chance through charity Tickets For Kids to attend Cirque du Soleil Luzia at Tysons II instead! Although it was last minute change and at a different time than our original planned group event, so many people were excited to attend. Mentoring requires flexibility and in a turnaround of 24 hours we had a group of 12 mentors, mentees, and family members signed up to go!

From Cirque du Soleil’s website:

LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light (“luz” in Spanish) quenches the spirit and rain (“lluvia”) soothes the soul. With a surrealistic series of grand visual surprises and breathtaking acrobatic performances, LUZIA cleverly brings to the stage multiple places, faces and sounds of Mexico taken from both tradition and modernity.

The show was spectacular and jaw-dropping! (Sorry, no pictures were allowed under the Big Tent!) As the show takes inspiration from Mexico, it was performed and sung entirely in Spanish which was an amazing opportunity to both celebrate Latinx culture with one of our mentoring families from Latin America as well as share Latinx culture with our Asian American youth and families.

I’ve heard that being a part of a circus is like being a part of a family. On and off stage everyone has their part to play, sometimes being center stage and other times moving props and sweeping water off the ground. Acrobats do life-endangering stunts like tossing each other through the air but they trust their partners will take care of them. They encourage each other and encourage the audience to be encouraging when someone is up for a challenging trick. And when the stunt fails or someone falls, they always have someone who picks them up, makes sure they are okay, and motivates them to try again.

In a way, this is a lot like mentoring. It is a rare opportunity to bring together everyone from youth to mentors to family members, but it is so important. Mentoring takes the partnership of not just the mentor and the mentee, but also the program staff and family members. Opportunities to bring together the network of care in mentoring strengthen the bonds between everyone involved. Like the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”… or rather… it takes a circus!

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