Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about. Today we share the answers of two men, Robert Bachicha and Albino Quinones, who live and breathe the XY-Zone, which supports and guides adolescent males as they journey into manhood. These men are passionate about what they do. And for good reason: the young men who have participated in the XY-Zone have improved in grades, attendance or behavior; they have decreased risky behaviors, increased volunteerism, leadership, and their future aspirations.
Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo staff who work in secondary schools were trained in the XY-Zone leadership and peer support curriculum. XY-Zone Senior Coordinator Robert Bachicha (who developed the curriculum) and XY-Zone Coordinator Albino Quinones, both of Communities In Schools of Central Texas, did the training. We gave our Texan colleagues a warm Kalamazoo welcome and then popped this quiz on them.
Alright, XY-Zone Men: pencils out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.
What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?
Albino-Every year, I’m constantly reminded how much kids want to be cared for.
Robert-How resilient kids can be. I recently met a boy who lost a good friend to gang violence. He’s been dealing with the grief and loss in positive ways and is now reaching out to other boys and getting them out of gang violence and drugs.
What are you currently reading?
Robert-A number of books on leadership. I try and find as many current and past leaders and read up on them. It’s important if I’m going to try and teach leadership to young men it’s important that I’m learning and always reflecting on what makes a great leader.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Albino-A great father. My wife is a program manager with CIS. We don’t have kids yet, but soon, I hope.
Robert-I want to develop skills beyond what I have today. I want to design other programs that reach youth that we’re not reaching today—like incarcerated youth. I see this as a next step.
Albino-Reaching out. That’s one of our Five R’s we focus on. The other R’s are Respect, Responsibility, Relationships, and Role Modeling. The X-Y Zone activities our young men engage in revolve around these Five R’s, whether it’s a service learning project, an enrichment activity, or a leadership opportunity.
Robert-Love and brotherhood. Out of a sense of brotherhood and love, the boys, more and more in our programs, are seeing that deeper and more intimate relationships are possible with each other. And once they experience that, they hang on for that. Even some of our very hardest to reach boys are expressing themselves and that is a miracle. To see a boy who’ve never hugged anybody before—not even a family member—now hugging other boys and smiling, feeling joy in his life for the first time…I tell you, boys don’t lie. That smile on his face tells you he’s doing better. There’s your success. What better evaluation do you need than that?
Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?
Albino-My uncle. At one point in high school I had a .8 GPA, no number in front of that point! I ended up graduating with a 2.2. I didn’t give up because my uncle was there for me and really helped me see the big picture.
Robert-The principal at my high school. He got me back in school after I dropped out. If it hadn’t be for that man caring and reaching out to me, getting me back in school, the XYZone wouldn’t exist today.
Robert, one final question. Can you tell us how you came to develop the XY-Zone?
Robert-When I was a boy I didn’t have a support system, direction or support. It wasn’t until I got into my 30’s that I began reflecting on my life. How do I—we as men—learn how to be intimate and support each other? Around this same time I was hired by CIS, and things really started coming together. The XY-Zone really grew out of my own need and figuring out how to fill that need as a grown man and be a role model and share that understanding and process with other young men.
Thank you both!
If you’re interested in learning more about the XY-Zone, go here.