This is not a goodbye.

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A letter from Khalil Equiano

Writing (not spelling, mind you) has always been my most dependable outlet and focused (yet untrained) skill. Writing has always been easy for me, the moments of solitude and creation through the process have always resonated with me. They have always centered me in a way no other activity (other than walking in circles thinking) has had the power to do. So you see it is ironic that at the time I most need to rely on this talent that it completely leaves me. I have sat down to write this very letter no less than 11 times… today. So many false starts and redrafts as I try to find an elegant way to say what I need to say in a way the respects you the reader and our journey together while simultaneously writing the hardest thing I have ever written.

I won’t be coming back to tSB next year. There it is, in all it’s band-aid-ripped-off-just-jump-in-and-be honest-but-this-sucks essence.

But let me clarify! the Service Board has been wonderful for me. It was like finding Narnia in a closet that lead to the real world. I first joined in an attempt to make penance for the wrong doings of my youth. I felt that if I could help young people from the same neighborhoods that I terrorized that in some small way I could be forgiven at least a little bit (rather by myself my community or a higher more spiritual authority I never decided – maybe all three). And while I don’t believe that my actions of the last 7 years have been equal to the sins I committed I have had one unforeseen and enjoyable side affect.

I became happy.

avi_loud_2013_nonprofit_4The relationships I have built with youth and adults in tSB have helped me recreate myself as a man that I can respect, and that respect and happiness has attracted other folks to me that have increased my happiness beyond what I thought possible and not so secretly beyond what I think I deserve. To continue my growth and honor these (well one more than others) relationships I had to make a choice. I have been trying to get married and move my fiance (there Rosa you happy I used the f word) to these United States so that I could stay in my current position. This has proven more difficult than I imagined and on the far side my current level of patience. I want to be a husband and a father and I can’t do that here in Seattle. So I’m moving.

It is so important that you all realize how difficult this decision has been and that there are more factors here than just my marriage. This community as a whole and ALL OF YOU as individuals are sealed forever within my heart. I love you. You have been the little sisters and brothers and friends and homies that constantly gave me a reason to continue on. You have been co-workers who became family. When I lost my niece, you where there. When I lost friends to violence, you where there. When I lost family to natural disaster, racist police, armed forces you name it, you where there. The gift of your love and presence is something I can never repay and I hope to God in heaven that you don’t see this as a betrayal. I’ve never been so torn before in my life. Remember I’m leaving Seattle and the country but I am NOT leaving you. I love you all. Thank you for everything. Please call if you need to talk.

Yours forever,

Khalil Equiano

tSB ♥ Prisca!

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Prisca Youn is the liaison to tSB for the Rudy’s tSB Summer Internship. Her infectious smile and work ethic constantly inspire others to find joy in completing every task they start to the best of their ability regardless of how small or large that task is. Thanks Prisca for being so awesome!

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The youth speak with Youth Speaks

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A couple of weeks ago tSB brought in Youth Speaks to do a poetry workshop. It was incredible.  Below is a sample of some of the work Irene produced that night.

Dear December:

You keep me up all night.
You’ve cried on every single shirt I own, but I still don’t know you.
I”m the kind of person your parents hate, but then again,
your parents hate everything.
You’re always cold,
And I hold your blue hands to my neck and just breathe.

Never getting why everyone hates you,
The ground needs to sleep,
and its not like you stole it, you just hid it for a bit,
Its almost your way of rewarding us,
the ones who are happy to see it again.

You never close your curtains,
so the neighbors close theirs
and you sit drunkenly on fire escapes and keep me from escaping,
we both hate hotel parties.

You go bathing suit shopping
when the mall’s empty
And you like to sleep with the TV on,
Because its just too damn quiet outside with you around.

You drink 7-11 coffee by the gallon
And write by the light of your iPod when the power’s down.
“Hip, Hop, Hip, Hop…”
Dead Prez lights the way for your shitty handwriting
till the batteries die,

Then again you’d usually rather sleep anyway,
Hibernate, Contemplate,
Drive your own autumn hangover the rest of the way away,

Your room’s a wreck,
Just how you like it,
You’ve stashed all your shit in other people’s cars,
So your sisters won’t blow it away,
You like your random shit just like
I like you
But I still don’t get why your mother hates me, anyway.