Since 2012, he and I have had time to correspond via Facebook, but we continue to miss each other in my short trips to Syracuse. On my drive back to Connecticut yesterday, he texted to say he was home and I was able to drive by his apartment to put a hug together with the OCC graduation he achieved on Saturday (before I departed for the twins).
Werdi is earning his Physical Education degree and hopes to teach in schools and coach his favorite sport, soccer. I remember the first time I took him to Destiny, the giant mall in Syracuse, and he couldn't believe such a place existed. We went to a bookstore and I told him to pick out any books he wanted - which he did. He was always an aggressive reader and he was a strong advocate that more stories about young people like him need to be told.
Werdi is now a junior at SUNY Brockport, after completing his first successful semester. I couldn't believe how old he looked and the two of us talked about traditions, Americanization, his desire to represent his Bantu culture, and his drive to show a love for the United States.
He, like many first-generation Americans, sees education as the heart and soul for advancing himself in a new culture. He was extremely interested in interning with Ubuntu Academy and hopes to gain as much experience working with youth as he can.
I am still shaking my head at how far he's come - but then I'm also realizing this was his destiny all along. The kid is driven and I have tremendous pride for all he's set out to do.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WERDI! WHAT A COINCIDENCE! I WROTE ABOUT YOU TODAY
THEN LEARNED TODAY IS YOUR DAY! MAKE IT THE BEST!