Friday, August 31, 2007

crazy Corcoran CA

We've now been in the fabulous, friendly little town of Corcoran, CA, for the past four days. Corcoran is south of Fresno, and is the farming capital of California. It is a town with a population of 12,000, which doubles if you count the CA State Prison that houses a few celebrity inmates, including Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan.
They have rolled out the red carpet for us here: we had a police and fire department escort "parade" when we arrived, the local Assemblywoman presented every cast member with a certificate of appreciation from the CA State Legislature for our service to the community, and everywhere we go people stop and ask us where we're from and welcome us to town. There are even three guys from our cast staying at the local firestation! They get such a kick out of being dropped off in firetrucks every morning. We have visited every school classroom from 4th-12th grade. The school district is one of our main sponsors, so we have led the "Stand for Peace" project for all the 4th-8th graders, and played and led games at the YMCA after-school programs at four different schools for three days this week. Tuesday and Thursday were crazy busy: we had two separate "SFP" sessions in the morning (two hours each), then two mini-shows in the afternoon for the students, and then off to the YMCAs to play with kids for two more hours. Count that up-- it is eight SOLID hours of being "on" in front of kids each day. CRAZY! Needless to say, we were wiped out by the end of the week. But its so fun and totally worth it when you are stopped on the street by a group of teens who are so interested in where you're from and what you're doing while you're here.
The other thing that makes it rewarding is to hear about all the problems with gangs and violence between groups, which seems almost unbelievable in a town this size, and feeling like the message of up with people is what they need to be exposed to. We were asked not to wear red or blue because students aren't allowed to. Also, no bandanas, and nothing with "old English" lettering. Some of our cast members were shocked by the strictness and sheer length of the dress code policies they had to adhere to in order to go to the "Back to School" dance at the high school tonight... which is a cultural experience in itself!

No comments: