Bousaina Ibrahim is a junior journalism major at Nebraska U., with minors in African studies and English. The Lincoln Northeast alumna has been with our Randolph Elementary School Community Learning Center since May – and has found that relating with youngsters is a powerful way to become a stronger communicator. We recently sat down with Bousaina to talk about why she loves the Randolph CLC.
Storytelling is a big part of my community. It’s something very important to be able to tell my story, and also the stories of my people. It’s really that simple, and that’s why I major in journalism.
When I was younger, I was in CLC. My friend Abbie works at (Civic Nebraska’s CLC at) Lincoln High, and she mentioned the opportunities to connect with kids at a lot of different schools (with Civic Nebraska). Well, I’ve always wanted to work with kids, so here I am.
I went to CLC at Norwood Park when I was a kid. There was staff there who I really connected with. Some of them were the only people who looked like me at that point in my life. That made an impression on me.
Now, it’s gone full circle. I feel like I can offer that very same thing to some students now, and relate to them in ways that some teachers or administrators maybe can’t.
Schools can be isolating for some students. School is when you’re exposed to your identity, and to others’ identities, and learning that you might be different? That can be hard. It’s a realization you can come to alone. I see my presence here as a way to offer children a space that I was looking for at their age.
Whether that’s conscious or subconscious, or obvious or not, I think that’s really important. So in that sense, I’m really happy to be here.
Diversity in school staff is very important. A child should be able to look at someone in authority or of importance that is like themselves. A lot of kids miss out on that, simply because of our community demographics, but it should always be a priority. It gives students an opportunity to connect, and even seek refuge in someone that is like them.
With younger kids, there’s just a level of honesty that you need to keep. Being very clear with them. Also, we all learn how to set boundaries – what that looks like with younger children, of course, but also allowing them to set boundaries for themselves.
I look at kids and the way they operate, and it’s clear to me that they’re very intuitive. It’s not something I necessarily noticed as a kid, either with myself or with kids around me. They sense things; they understand things that are unsaid. We often reduce their level of understanding, but we shouldn’t.
There are ways these children live their lives that I want to emulate. They’re confident. They use their imagination. They’re friendly and they are kind. Throughout the years and as we grow, we can kind of shed those things. So in the same way we’re teaching kids social and emotional skills, we can also learn from them. Because so much of that is natural to them.
Randolph is a community. It’s so supportive, and the staff is very kind. I love our principal; she’s so sweet. Even the neighbors, surrounding the school – it’s a very warm environment.
I’ve been trying to practice gratitude every day. To be thankful for the position I’m in, whether that’s here at Randolph, at school, or at home. To smell the flowers. To remind me to be present and to appreciate what I have. It makes life feel easier.