My name is Tali Bailes. I hail from Cincinnati, Ohio where I recently graduated from a local public school, Sycamore High School.
This summer I taught at Breakthrough Cincinnati. Breakthrough is an academic summer camp dedicated to preparing underserved middle schoolers for the school year and potentially even college. (Shout out to all of my teachers over the years. THANK YOU. Teaching is hard work!). One Friday I stood out at recess listening to 12 year olds screaming and balls bouncing on the concrete. It was hot and humid, but luckily we had sun instead of the constant rain Cincinnati became so infamous for this summer. I saw a few girls starting to gather around a jump rope. They were looking for a spinner. I eagerly took the role. I began spinning along with Mariah, one of the students. “One, two, one, two, one two” we chanted, preparing the next jumper for success. Quickly, many young girls ranging from 6th to 9th grade lined up, awaiting their turn in the double dutch arena. Jerica then begged me to try out jumping. At first I was a little hesitant. Double Dutch is SO much more difficult than just a single rope. You must time it exactly right before you jump in and the moment you throw yourself into the unknown, you have to be nimble, there are two ropes to compete with now.
During this afternoon recess, I was filled with joy. I love my students and I love it when they can teach me. But it wasn’t just the beautiful day or the wonderful students that I was so happy to be around. It was the game of double dutch that struck me as so powerful.
I head to jump into the center. My vision becomes streamlined, only the concrete path and swinging ropes matter now. I tune out distractions making sure to jump in right as the red rope begins to go upward and the blue goes downward. I begin swinging my body in time with the rope’s rhythm. Ready, but scared. Scared of the ropes and the challenges that lie between them. Excited and exhilarated for the speed and the fun. Scared of the challenges that come with a global citizen bridge year: the rhythm and language of a different place and culture. Excited by the challenges, the new friends, and the fun that await.
I muster all of my strength and jump in.