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“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.” – Maya Angelou

“Prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud,” Maya Angelou says. In a world that emphasizes instant and personalized gratification, that is a big challenge, especially for teens.

rainbow-phonesOur young people are often criticized. “They always want more… They’re not grateful… They have their face in their phones…” But Generation Z, the iGens, are the first post 9/11 generation. They are the internet generation, the information generation. They access EVERYTHING faster, and they can move away just as quickly. They have inherited a new world in need of the unique rainbows only they will be able create.

This story introduces you to one iGen rainbow maker.

Elizabeth Corsig is a dancer, a high school student, a girl scout and a church leader – along with being a daughter, a sister, a cousin, and a granddaughter. She is also just four days shy of being able to vote in the next Presidential election and very bummed over having to wait until 2020 to help pick her President.

rainbow-born-dancingElizabeth is the oldest of my four grandchildren. She has always been a dancer. Her little feet were going a mile-a-minute under her christening gown that Sunday at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, 17 years ago,

She could barely walk when she started dance lessons at Charlotte Ballet and continues with them still. Last summer, at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, her audition placed her at one of the top levels. She was pleased with her years of progress, yet there was something unsettling as the five-week program got underway.

She could handle the complicated choreography at this highest level but not with the usual strength and poise she demanded of herself. Her new work was not building the sustainable base she knew she would need for the future.

After a few days of careful thought, she asked for an appointment with the head of the program.

“I wanted to have an honest conversation with the director, to make sure I was in the best possible place for me. I made the request to move down a level. That may be a shock to many, but for me, it was the best possible way to build a strong foundation for my future.”

Sometimes a small step back is the best choice in finding your rainbow. The program director understood the young dancer’s concerns and got Elizabeth in the perfect group. She kept her eye on Elizabeth and came to see a work ethic, enthusiasm and presence that set Elizabeth apart. Her technical execution, her attitude, her smile – all made her sparkle.

rainbow-liz-at-charlotte-balletWhen the director needed the perfect lead for the school’s recruiting film, the choice was easy. It was Elizabeth. You can watch the school’s video at the end of this story.

Girl Scouts are another part of Liz’s rainbow. In the first grade she started her scouting journey and now, as a Junior at Myers Park High School, she is ready for their highest level – The Gold Award. This individually earned rank is only achieved by 5% of eligible girls.

rainbow-nhsElizabeth is an International Baccalaureate (IB) student and member of the National Honor Society.

With all of this on her plate, Elizabeth needed time to think when she was nominated to serve as an Elder at Myers Park Presbyterian Church.

First, did her already busy schedule give her time, and second, was this year too controversial at her home church?

The governing body of the national Presbyterian Church had made the decision to allow same sex couples the right to marry in church, but they gave individual churches option to make their own decisions. This meant Elizabeth would be voting on a question that some felt was beyond her understanding.

rainbow-st-petersAfter several meetings with her minister and thoughtful time in prayer, Elizabeth accepted her new responsibility. This is how she felt about her experience:

“It was an exciting time in the Presbyterian Church and I was looking forward to how much I would learn about church government. I learned that much of our nation’s constitution uses this governing style. In the Presbyterian Church, a small number of people are elected to serve on the Session, to vote as they feel called by God. I took this responsibility seriously and prayed for the wisdom to follow His will.

“There were countless meetings and discussions throughout the process so I felt prepared to make the decision when it came. My age may have given me a different view on the topic, but I came to the decision that marriages of the same gender should not be restricted in a church.

“I am aware of how painful this decision is for many. I hope that this does not divide us, but makes us stronger and more united under God. We are all members of the body of Christ.”

Elizabeth has just returned from a week in Cuba with other youth from the church. How does she manage to balance her life?

A special lunch date in July of 2015
Special lunch date, July 2015

“Sometimes I honestly don’t know how I stay connected in all the areas of my life. I have learned how to balance things, to stay focused on the task at hand.

“When I am dancing I only think about dance, instead of drifting off into thinking about the homework I have to do later that night. The same goes for school, church, and other activities. I have learned to prioritize and not procrastinate. I don’t watch much T.V.”

That is Elizabeth Corsig. A dancer, a scout, a student, and a Christian. She is my friend, I love her and I am very proud of her.

I also think Maya Angelou would love Elizabeth; preparing to be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud.

Merritt McDonald and Jackson Sippe are also officers in our church. If you don’t know teenagers like this, let me know, we can talk about how to find them.
Merritt McDonald and Jackson Sippe are also officers in our church. If you don’t know teenagers like this, let me know, we can talk about how to find them.

What do you think of iGen youth?

Have you spent time with them to listen, not to lecture – but to have a conversation?

Can you tell me ways they will effect society when they are voting?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran

Epilogue

Video courtesy of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet: