The older man was talkative and asking me lots of questions. The young client had his face covered with a scarf and I could only see his eyes. He listened intently to our conversation.
The older man asked me lots of questions, but pursued a line of questions around why I chose to server young people. I explained my view about how young street-dependent people and older homeless people are different, admitting that I was talking broad brush. There are always exceptions and as many unique stories as there are people on the street. But a typical street youth, finds that on the street it is the best place he or she has been yet. That doesn't mean all of them come from broken homes, although a majority do, but that they didn't fit in where they came from. They find a sense of belonging on the street.
As I shared this and more, I watched my client to see his reaction. He seemed to nod in agreement. I never want to tell anyone anything about street youth that I wouldn't say in front of my clients. And I've learned to ask for feedback. After an interview or presentation, I turn and ask my clients if I get it right. It's part of the authenticity that street youth are looking for.
Then I noticed in his eyes that he was fighting back tears.
This is the end of Part I. Part II continues on next blog post.