An Amazing Summer Comes to a Close

Sam Starbuck ’12 – As I wrap up my eight-week summer internship with the Reading Railroad, Logansport,  I sit and hope that I have impacted as many lives over this short period of time as have impacted me. This summer has truly been filled with valuable learning experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Beginning in May I was a little skeptical, as I think most 20-year-old college students would be. However, I soon realized that this is something that I enjoy doing. I leave work every day with the gratification that I have the chance to impact multiple lives in this community that has shaped me into who I am today. Those lives that I am impacting are the future of Logansport and all of Cass County. It is one of those things that your parents always told you, “leave it better than it was when you found it.” Through my internship this summer I have truly been given the opportunity to leave this community better than what it was when I found it.
I was fortunate in the sense that I was given a lot of freedom in my assignments. It was laid out early on that it would be nice to have a stronger web presence for the Reading Railroad, that I was to plan a Literacy Center and that there was some big event – the Storybook Festival -  that was the most important thing on the calendar for the summer, “so make sure you’re ready,”I was told.
So, I took what I had and ran with it. I developed a blog (linked above) for the Cass County Reading Railroad to keep the parents involved and informed with what we have going on daily. It has become a valuable resource for us to reach parents and help them become the first teacher to their children. I also created a “Fan Page” on Facebook for the Cass County Reading Railroad which was another valuable online resource for getting in touch with today’s parents who are becoming more and more technologically savvy. Along with the Facebook page I have also created a Cause Page, which enables the Reading Railroad to receive donations via Facebook from our Friends. This has been another great way to raise money to support the efforts to spread literacy in Cass County.
Developing a web presence was fun but interacting with the kids was even better. Although I was skeptical at first as the kids took a couple weeks to warm up to me, it has been hard to tell them all goodbye in the end. Through our weekly programs that take place on Monday through Thursday, we tend to see a lot of the same kids who show up on a regular basis. Seeing these children show up, eager to have fun and better their literacy skills at the same time is great.
The most impactful experience of the summer was the Storybook Festival, the event that I was told to “make sure I’m ready.” After we worked all summer putting together the details for this event, there was not better feeling than seeing nearly 400 kids walk through Spencer Park and enjoy everything we had planned for them. It was one of those “we did it!!!” moments.
As I sit and reflect on the past eight weeks and the thoughts of Wabash begin to creep back into my head, it’s hard to believe it is already over. It seems just yesterday the kids were looking at me like a foreign alien who had landed in the library.
So as I head back Crawfordsville for another year at Wabash, I want to extend a thank you to Nikki Reed and the Cass County Reading Railroad for the opportunity and a thanks to all the parents and children who make what we do worthwhile.
One final note, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to follow our blog and become a fan on Facebook. Most importantly make sure to read 20 minutes every day. It will pay off in the long run.

In photo: Starbuck playing games with the kids.

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2 Responses to An Amazing Summer Comes to a Close

  1. Todd McDorman says:

    Awesome job Sam! Way to make a difference in the community. I’m very impressed. I hope you further share your experience on campus in the Fall.

  2. Joyce Mayhill says:

    Dear King Sam, Well, first of all, thanks for making me cry as I read your sentiments about your internship here at the United Way and specifically at the Reading Railroad. You know, some may travel accross the world to learn and experience, but you became a change agent and made a difference right here in your corner of the world while making an impact on these little lives! Best wishes to you as you begin your year back at college! You are a special and bright young man that I look forward to seeing great things! We miss your smile and creativity!