Friday, January 25, 2013

Building relationships in Eastman - A Kanu Update!

Betsy and I ventured to Eastman today to check in on Kanu and you will all be glad to hear that he is doing very well. We swung by, picked him up and headed to the Cochran Campus before the financial aid office closed. It had been suggested to me by someone who cares about Kanu that it would be wise to meet with the financial aid office and explain Kanu’s special situation. This was great advice. We learned a lot from our visit and I believe his aid advisor learned a little more about Kanu. It was time well spent and he got some dates and deadlines that he needed to know. They found out he has support in the form of 2 “moms”, Betsy and me.
I realized Kanu needs an advocate to help him navigate all the dates, deadlines and fees so he doesn’t miss something. I did not helicopter parent my kids and I certainly won’t be doing this with him but I realized today that without someone asking essential questions, he could make expensive mistakes. Too many assumptions are made on the part of the college concerning new students. They need a mentor for these kids, especially new students. Thank you to Bobby King for suggesting that I get involved with the financial aid office. It will make a difference.
We stopped by his bank and deposited $750 in contributions from Finders Keepers customers and consignors. Kanu couldn’t believe money was still coming in. We brought him copies of the Champion article written about his journey. I hope you all saw it! Betsy made his favorite cookies and brought some of his favorite foods. We stopped by the grocery store stocked him up on a few things, including a can opener. Don’t ask how he has been getting by without one!
Then we headed to the Aviation Campus and met Chad who co-ordinates and manages the flight instructors. He was both helpful and encouraging to Kanu as he gave us multiple sites to visit for scholarships. Chad did a bit of mentoring on the spot, giving Kanu advice on the best way to approach each segment of flight school and training.
As we were leaving the campus, a guy pulled up beside us and jumped out of his SUV. He stopped us and asked if he had heard correctly that Kanu was from Liberia. Kanu got out and spoke with him and it turns out that this young man was raised in Kenya and Nigeria by his missionary parents. He offered encouragement and advice on loans, classes, flying and instructors and it turns out they are in a class together! His name is Jordan and he shared that one of the main instructors is a Christian and really cares about the students. He and Kanu exchanged phone numbers. Jordan didn’t have to stop us or even notice Kanu but he went out of his way to meet him and I am convinced that was divine.

So we made progress building relationships today: Kathy in Financial Aid, Chad, the flight instructor coordinator and Jordan, a fellow student. Mustafa has been invaluable with his knowledge of campus life…and his car. Kanu is surrounded by support in Eastman and he knows that he has support at his Finders Keepers home, too. He has been a little homesick but he is building a life in Eastman, as he should, one relationship at a time.

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