Excuse me, are you listening?
Sunday, November 20, 2016

 Dear Readers,

Ever since 9th grade, my daughter has gone on a college tour with other students from the Greater Lansing Area.  She is now in 10th grade and has become very accustomed to being in high school.  The older the children get, the more exhausting it becomes juggling the things they want to do with the things you want to do.  
We both wanted her to go on the college tour.  Talk about a passionate group of  leaders.  Mr. Fred Porter and Mr. Amel Eiland have been running the tour for over 20 years.  They have provided opportunities for hundreds of students.   Some of the same students acted as chaperones this year.
She left on Sunday, October 23rd for a week.  Before she left, I felt the stirrings of the empty nest syndrome overcoming me.  I had to fill out paperwork and go to the meetings.  I watched and listened as parents asked questions that I had not thought of.  I wondered if they felt the same sense of anxiety and overwhelming pride that I did.
My daughter was not the least bit moved by my sensitive emotional state as she packed her bags, asked me to borrow items and handed me a list of the things she needed.  Well actually, she sent me a text message.  
I send her on college tours because the cost would be astronomical if I decided to take her myself.  The cost of the Lansing Black College Tour was only $400.00, however, spending money doubled it, but it was well worth it.  The cost included ground transportation, lodging, five breakfasts, lunch on five college campuses, touring each campus and attending a football games.  Who can beat that?
The purpose of the Black College Tour is designed to provide high school students with the opportunity to visit historically and predominately Black institutions of higher learning.  Over the years, I have seen a mixed group of students on the trip.
The students were required to write a 100 word essay entitled “What a college degree will mean to me”.  They needed two letters of recommendations, one each from a teacher or school staff member and a Lansing area community leader.  The students were also required to bring homework with them on the trip.  They had designated homework times at the hotels in the evenings.
The students had the opportunity to gain early exposure to life on campus.  Additionally, it will help them in making informed decisions about college and career choices.  I sure do wish I had the opportunity to visit several colleges prior to my 11th grade year.  
My daughter had a friend with her on the trip.  They have been friends since 3rd grade.  I wish I still had friends from that time period.  I am grateful for the little things that she does not even realize are very important.  They were roommates and sat on the bus together.  The first year, she did not know anyone.
The tour took place from October 24th through October 28th.  I did state above that she left on Sunday and they did.  It took them almost 17 hours to get to their first stop at Dillard University in Louisiana.  They went to Xavier University next and on to Southern University the next day.
Another 4 hour trip and they were on their way to Grambling State University on day 3.  They went to Mississippi to Alcorn State University.  Jackson State University was 80 miles away in Jackson, Mississippi.   They then went to Tougaloo College too.  
Jackson State University vs. Prairie View A & M University was the last stop and they departed after the football game.
My telephone call to pick her up came early in the morning.  I could tell she was tired.  I missed her.  She was not to tired to go out and eat though.  Without that time, I would not have had the opportunity to stare at her face.  Sitting in the restaurant I thought, “Did you know I followed you in my heart to each place you went?”  She was talking about the trip and said that Grambling State University was one of her favorites.  They went shopping at a mall in Louisiana.  We spoke more about the educational opportunities she experienced.  It was quite the adventure.  There were more girls than boys on the trip.  That made me a little sad.  We can do better by encouraging more young men to attend college.
Love people,
Rina Risper

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