I’ve had the privilege of working with two of my favorite people these last few days – Wendi Fournier and Christi Lackey from The Whiting in Flint, MI. Chase and I flew here on Monday….so, let’s start there.
We arrived at the Roanoke Airport in plenty of time to board our 5:59pm Delta flight to Atlanta with a connecting flight to Flint for an arrival time of 11pm. We checked in for our flights, dropped off our luggage, and made our way to the gate. About 30 minutes before our scheduled departure time, Delta announced that there were some “mechanical difficulties” with out plane that would cause a 2 hour delay…and leave us stranded in Atlanta overnight. Since I was scheduled to begin teaching at 8:30am the following day, that just wasn’t going to work. After a quick conversation with the Gate Agent, we were moved to a flight from Roanoke to Detroit but still left with no connecting flight to Flint. She made a note in our record that Delta would provide us with a taxi so we could arrive in Flint that same evening…it’s a 90 minute drive and a $170 cab fare.
We arrived in Detroit, found the Delta Assist Desk where we were told there’s absolutely no way that they are going to pay for a taxi to take us from Detroit to Flint! And they couldn’t even believe that someone in Roanoke would tell us that they would…however, when they found the note in the record from a Supervisor, everything changed. They issued a voucher, we picked up our luggage, and we were on our way to Flint in a Metro Cab. It was very cold that night about 25 degrees outside. And our cab didn’t seem to have any heat…even the driver was wearing a hat, gloves, and a parka! I seriously doubted if I would arrive without being frozen to death! We checked into our hotel and dropped into the bed for some rest. It had been a long day.
Christi and Wendi picked us up early the next morning for our first workshops of the day at Michigan School for the Deaf. We spent the entire day here including having lunch with the students. The kids were so amazing, so much fun, and so incredible to watch perform the magic they learned…all of the “trouble” of getting to Flint just faded away and it was worth every minute.
The next day, we started at Durant Turri Mott Elementary School. We visited here last February when we were performing at the Whiting. We worked with some familiar students and met a few new ones. After lunch, we were back at Siple Element School to work with some “magical” students here. Another fantastic day!
Our final day in Flint started at Hahn Intermediate School. We worked with some of these students last year and they have now moved on to junior high school. It was pretty awesome to walk into the classroom and here some of the students call out my name. And they remembered not only my name, but many of the tricks we taught them almost a year ago! A little review, a couple of new tricks, and it was time for the kids to get creative and tell us their “magic stories” to go along with their tricks. They didn’t hesitate to come up and perform – and the stories were quite….creative!
We wrapped up our time in Flint with a 2-hour visit to the Genesee Valley Regional Center. This will be one of the most memorable experiences for me. In a very organized way, young adults age 13-17 walked single file into the room and found their seats. Many of these individuals will go from here to prison, some may be released, and others may spend a few months here. What I have learned over the years is this – it doesn’t make any difference how old you are, how tough you think you are, or what your background is, when someone brings out a magic trick, people are intrigued. This group was no different. Over the course of our time together, they learned several tricks and stood in front of their peers to perform…telling their stories that ranged from super heroes to drug-deals-gone-wrong. They laughed. They cheered. They applauded their peers. And, for a few minutes, they were able to experience what it’s like to believe in the impossible.
I have had the best time working in Flint…and we are already talking about when we will be back again next year! I can’t wait!!