Voices of Adult Learners

"Open Category"


Going Down In History

by Curtis Johnson, Charlottesville
ll of my life I have been into running, exercising, and sports. Back in the seventies I would run along the railroad tracks. Ten miles wouldn't be anything for me to run in one day. Running helped me a lot when I played football. During the late seventies and eighties I loved to play softball. It was a game of excitement for the whole family. My favorite position was catcher because that gave me a chance to run with each batter up to first base. Most of the time I won the race, and all of the kids that were watching loved it. Last year I ran the ten mile race in Charlottesville. My asthma acted up, but I still finished the race.

While watching tv one day in September, 1995, I saw an ad about the Olympic Torch Relay. In my mind I was thinking, "Oh, how I would love to be a part of that!" So I asked my family and friends if they thought I had a chance of becoming a torch bearer.

They responded, "Why, not. Give it a try!" So that is exactly what I did.

In order to become a torch bearer you must be a community hero, such as an outstanding volunteer worker, community leader, role model, or have done acts of generosity or kindness for others. I felt that I qualified because of the community leadership I had shown in the past. Also, I've been very generous when it comes to helping others.

When I became a single parent 13 years ago I moved into a housing complex. There were drugs and trash; it was not well-maintained at all. I was a parent of three kids, Shareka 8, Curtis, Jr. 4, and Darleen 3. By being the parent that I am, I decided we must do something to purify this complex. So my three kids and I started to pick up the trash and the garbage that would be lying around outside. My kids made friends with other kids and we all would work together to clean up the place. We set up a neighborhood watch for the drug traffic in the complex. The community elected me to be its president. This gave me the chance to change a lot in the complex. We gave it a whole new face lift such as filling in pot holes with new dirt and putting down grass seed for new grass. Flowers were planted in front of each apartment window. After completing all of that, we as a wonderful community came together and decided to put up a flag pole to hold the American flag. Daily there were 60 children that wanted for me to get off from work so that we could run and play together. I did this daily for three years, and I enjoyed every moment of it.

With the help of my neighbors, friends, and other community leaders, I was nominated as torch-bearer. I didn't know that so many people cared about me. As the deadline came close, there was only one day before some lucky person would be chosen. So I checked the mailbox to see if there was any mail pertaining to the Olympic TorchRelay and there wasn't anything. With this in the back of my mind, I went on to do other things. Later in the evening, around 6:15 pm, I heard my dog, King, barking and getting wild so I decided to go and see what was wrong with him. I saw a brown UPS truck pull off, but I never gave it a second thought. I went over to King to play with him and calm him down, and I went to the mailbox one more time just to double check to see if anything had come.

There was a piece of plastic hanging on my gate, so I opened the gate and pulled the plastic, but it was tied to the fence. Once I untied the plastic bag I realized that the UPS driver had tied it there because of King. Inside the plastic bag was a letter stating that I had been selected to be one of the 5,500 individuals who would represent their community. Once I told my family they were very excited about it. My neighbors were overwhelmed with joy. All in all, everybody was happy.

A few weeks later a lady by the name of Ms. Cherry Rubio contacted me to come to a meeting with the other torch bearers in this area. Ms. Rubio informed everyone that we would be in contact with the television station, newspaper, and radio stations. Well, Ms. Rubio was right. I had two interviews with Channel 29 news, three Daily Progress interviews, and an interview with WCHV radio. The Cavalier Daily newspaper wrote two stories on me. At this time I was the happiest dad in the world to represent Charlottesville! June 21 would be the big day. And that day was coming soon.

After I came home from work one day, my neighbor Mr. Harris called me down to his house. Mr. Harris said that the UPS driver had left a package in front of my gate. But being the person that Mr. Harris is he didn't want anything to happen to it. So he took good care of it until I got home. Once I opened the package I saw that it was my uniform for the torch relay. Later Ms. Rubio called and said she would like for me as well as the other torch bearers to be in the Dogwood Parade in Charlottesville. Of course I told her I was more than glad to participate. On another evening we got to see where we would be running the torch.

Here we are, June 21, 1996, going down in history! A big day for me! All torch bearers met at the Coca-Cola plant and we got on a bus there to be dropped off at our station point. During that time each torch bearer got the chance to hold their torch for the first time. The number on my torch was 093. The torch was so beauiful and I had never seen anything as beautiful before in my life. It has 22 aluminum rods and five gold bands along with a wood grain handle. Looking at the torch, I realized that it was almost as tall as my youngest daughter, Darleen. At my station on Ninth Street I could see the flame coming from the other runner. Everyone was cheering and so excited about the torch coming their way. Once mine was lit I started my journey carrying the torch. I ran the torch for three blocks, from Ninth to Seventh Street.

So what did this mean to me? It means that on June 21, 1996, I was one of the happiest men in the world to have been a part of history.

In closing so that I don't forget anyone for helping me to be chosen to run the torch, I want to say, "Thank you very much and I love you all." I'll also be more than glad to relight my torch for any special occasion. Thank you.

Dreams

by Rita Johnson, Fluvanna County

have dreams of being
all that I can be.
To reach further than the
widest sea.
I have dreams of doing all
that I can do.
I have plenty of dreams.
I know you do too!
I have dreams of making it
in this world so cold.
So many dreams that are so
far away and untold.
I have dreams of living in
this world with out danger or fear.
'Cause Jesus holds me close and
so very near.
I have dreams to make something
of myself.
'Cause dreams are not just based on
luxury and wealth.
The world comes closer to an end
so it may seem.
But, I'm still holding on to
all of my dreams.

Real Love

by Christine White, Charlottesville

eal love is saying "I love you"
And meaning it with everything inside.
It's letting go of your mask and forgetting one's self pride.
Real love is felt in that one kiss
That seems to last forever and ever.

It's holding each other close,
And letting go never.
Real love is sitting together and not saying a single word
Just enjoying these ever lasting moments
While absolutely nothing is said or heard.

Real love is like a seashell
With a frame that's picturesque and bright
And finding out that a pearl inside
With show as much light.

Real love is sometimes fighting
You love each other just as you are
It's letting go of the bad
'Cause the good isn't far.

Real love is counted in the years
In the months and the days.
It's the kind that lasts for an eternity
And in your heart is where it stays.

God is Good

by Rita Johnson, Fluvanna County

od is good, God
is great.
He's always on time,
he's never late.
God is near us each and
every day.
All we have to do is get
on our knees and pray.
When you are feeling so down
and out, just call on Jesus.
He will help you, there is no doubt.
When you are feeling hurt and
very much alone.
Jesus will speak to you and
say you are not alone.
He's just like a tree planted
by the river.
If you just call on him,
he will deliver.
Jesus will always keep you
by his side.
He will be there as your
comfort and your guide.
God will always love
you that I do know.
Why? you may ask.
'Cause the Bible tells me so.
He will always be there
through thick and thin.
He's not just some one you
call on, he's also a friend.
So whenever you feel there's no help
around, just call on Jesus.
He will never let you down.
So if life seems to let you down,
like it sometimes could,
Just call on God, 'cause
he is so good.
Amen

My Trip to Another Country

by Geneva Barbour, Literacy Volunteers of America
hen I entered another country it made me thank God for what I have. People in Egypt do not have shoes, but they are required to walk to school for about a mile and a half. My children are sleeping late because they don't want to go to school. Jews do not eat meat. They eat boiled eggs, homemade bread, and vegetables that they grow to eat. They have very few jobs, we are blessed because we have more jobs than we can pick from. The children here use computers in school. But they do not having any thing there like a computer except in the bigger schools. They use outdoors bathroom, but we are blessed because we have indoors bathrooms. We could not drink their water because it will make us sick. When I came home I was sick for about 2 or 3 days.

The weather over there in November was 102 degrees. The men let their children get married to the highest bidder. They put a white flat up on top of the house to let people know that they have a daughter age 10 to 16 who is free to get married. When I was there I could walk out side and not be scared because some one will steal my money. If they did, their hand or finger will be cut off. When they did it more than one time, more will be cut off.

So we are very, very blessed.

The end.

Alone

by Christine White, Charlottesville
here is no use
Giving a snow job to You
You already know me like a book.
So when I'm alone

Please help me to see
What I am
Even if I don't like it.
Inside of me I want the right thing
Then when I'm with someone
I want them to think I'm a woman.

When I'm all alone tonight,
Help me see
What You want me to be like.


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