The first eight years of my full-time working life I spent at a mega-church, working with prison outreach, sports/recreation, missions, and youth (mostly youth). It's amazing how out of touch you can get with real people working at a church. Not that our congregants were fake, but we were all sorta similar...mostly white, evangelical, middle-to-upper class, etc. I know that I was living in my calling, so I don't diminish where I was or what I was up to for those years.
Three years ago, though, I knew it was time to move on...first from the job itself on staff, but a few months later...from the church itself, as Jonathan and Amanda were starting a new church (Renovatus--and their new fancy website, BTW). Both decisions have been life-altering. (read like...the whole blog for some of that info.)
But today's Storytime with Shelley is about my friends at York Technical College. Night classes. Digital Design. Rock Hill.
Though I work at a mid-major university, and can take FREE classes here...the program I am interested in is computer/graphic design. Winthrop's program is geared toward art and a four-year degree, so I opted for the local tech school. The schedule and certificate program better fit my life.
I have so enjoyed the sheer diversity. At age 33, I am often on the younger side of my classmates. The older ones are there mostly because they need more training to be employable and times are tough. They have kids, sometimes grown children, full-time jobs, and major set-backs in life. Like Fred.
Fred's design work was mediocre at best...but he always had something to say with it. He fueled his passion for politics (he's a Libertarian) through his art. Even his bank logo was a soapbox. I loved Fred, with his ever-present Fedora and love for Fellini films. Fred's dad was never around, and his mom was...well, from what I can gather a paid "escort." Fred is on wife number 6 and has children all over the U.S. Fred has a soft heart and has lead a rough life. After a year in classes with him, I got to know him pretty well. Sometime over the summer, Fred disappeared. Rumor had it he up and moved to Virginia in the middle of the semester. I miss Fred.
My nature is to walk in, sit at the computer, and be absorbed in my own work. I have learned to stop, to help, to take advice, and to listen. I have been truly frustrated by my own lack of skills and knowledge, and have depended on classmates and teachers to get me past the point of wanting to throw a monitor across the room. We're all in it together...young and old, talented and not-so-much talented...trying to fuel our artistic sides and one day perhaps our wallets. It is fascinating to see how many different interpretations you get with the same assignment. I love my night class people. They have taught me so much about life and art.