By Aaron Thompson, Jaunty grad
Howdy, I’m a middle school video productions and computer teacher. I grew up in the South and moved to the Bay Area a few years ago for new adventures and to explore filmmaking opportunities. After moving here, I wasn’t being as social as I wanted to be. I joined a few networking groups, but I wasn’t finding a real connection. I felt sorta trapped in a routine. I’m comfortable in most social settings, but I’m definitely not an extrovert, especially in a crowd or in a small of group people I don’t know well. Then Jaunty came along and helped put a little spark back into my life.
I can’t say enough positive things about my experience with Jaunty. I attended the free Jaunty workshop then decided to enroll in the six-week course because I saw it as an investment in myself and a way to make a positive change in my social life.
One of my favorite things to do is travel, to see new places and meet new people. Over spring break, I boarded a crowded airplane on my way to Hawaii. A flight attendant was about to make a passenger leave the plane to check their luggage because all the compartments were full. I knew she was mistaken, so using my new assertiveness skills, I spoke up. I said I had seen some space available in one of the closed compartments. The passenger thanked me, and I felt great having spoken up in a crowd.
Thanks to Jaunty, I’ve found myself being assertive and connecting with people in all kinds of situations.
I recently volunteered as a videographer at the Mill Valley Film Festival, where I had the opportunity to network with actors and filmmakers. One day I was scheduled to record a Q&A session with a director after his film. I arrived at the theater an hour early and was surprised by the way a theater manager approached me. I could tell he was upset by his manner and the tone of his voice. He told me he doesn’t allow camera operators to record a Q&A unless they’re setup before the film begins, and I was there after the film started. I noticed he was wearing a really snazzy shirt, so at one point during our conversation when he said “Do you have any questions?” I said, “Yeah nice shirt, where did you get it?” That sent our conversation going down a different path, and I was able to shoot the Q&A.
What I have learned from Jaunty has been the difference between getting to know someone new and letting that opportunity pass me by. It’s also a lot easier now to take typical “surface” conversations to a deeper, more meaningful level. I have had better conversations with coworkers, and I’ve even developed better relationships with my middle school students, which has translated into a greater level of success in the classroom. Since Jaunty, I’ve been even more social than in the past. I’ve taken up golf as a hobby and started volunteering on a regular basis. I also keep in touch with several classmates and continue to practice what I’ve learned from the classes. Jaunty helped me break out of my routine while having fun doing it.