Every day brings new and wonderful surprises to the clinic.
On Tuesday someone brought some spongy roll cake to the clinic to be shared. I had to make A LOT of phone calls in order to set patients up with appointments to meet with insurance counselors. A handful of people hang up on me, which was annoying because then I had to call them back. By the end of the day I was so exhausted I started mumbling and getting tongue tied. One lady took pity on me over the phone. Also, a lady named Ms. Jeanette called us quite a few times.
On Wednesday someone brought a basket of sweet grapes to the clinic to be shared. Mose from the Joy Wellness Center tried to institute a new policy requiring the front desk workers of Shepherd’s Clinic to make sure the Joy Wellness patients remain seated in our (the clinic’s) waiting room until a Joy Wellness worker arrives to escort them back to the Joy Wellness center. Prior to Wednesday, their patients used to walk back there on their own, unannounced, which often flabbergasted the Joy Wellness. Ms. Henrietta, who had an appointment at the Joy Wellness Center, was not fond this new policy. When Leticia, a front desk worker, asked Ms .Henrietta to take a seat in the waiting room, Ms. Henrietta was livid! First, she told off Leticia. Then she complained to the doctors, nurses, staff, custodian, and anybody else she could find about how rude, authoritative, and disrespectful these young new volunteers were. She complained herself all the way back to the Wellness center. Then during her gardening class she raved to her classmates and instructor about the notorious Leticia, before warning them about the dangers of black people and expressing her fear of foreigners. Oh, and Ms. Jeanette called again.
On Thursday someone brought a variety of muffins to the clinic to be shared. I had a scrumptious blueberry muffin. While meeting with a doctor, Mr. Woods, a patient, left his cell phone charging in the waiting room. Someone turned it in to Calvin, a front desk volunteer. About 15 minutes later, some lady who was sitting in the waiting room approached Calvin and asked for the phone, claiming that it belonged to her boyfriend and that she was going to take it to him. Calvin handed over the phone and the lady jetted out the front door. The phone did not belong to the lady’s boyfriend. Mr. Woods was single. We had to call the police. Ms. Jeanette called a couple of times.
On Friday someone brought chocolate chip bagels to the clinic to be shared. I got to screen two new patients and handle some medical records! But Ms. Jeanette did not call.




She wore an emerald green head wrap and an emerald green dress that covered her from shoulders to ankles. The silver colored rings on each finger clinked together each time she moved her hand. Her voice was the sound of waterfalls and meditation. The tenseness in my shoulders that developed throughout the day slowly faded as she described her line of work. I had been waiting to meet Ms _____ since the start of my internship. She does what I am 79% sure I want to do. She informs me that licensed addictions counselors in the state of Maryland have to complete 40 hours of continued training per year in order to keep their licenses up to date. Ms ____ has 200.
I am eager to sit in on a therapy session; I want to see what Ms ____ is all about. My director asks the client for verbal consent. Ms ____ says she needs written consent. When the client signs the form that I helped typed up, I am free to sit in on the general counseling session. Afterwards, Ms ____ reminds me that the session I sat in on was not therapy, but counseling. I take note that there is a difference between the two. She asks me for my thoughts. We debrief.
Afterwards, she tells me to type up another form, so that I can sit in on the group therapy session. I do, and we head over from her office to the house where the women live. Ms ____ speaks to three community members as we head across the street. They smile at her and ask her how she’s been and remind her what an impact she has made in this community. She tells them, hesitantly, that tomorrow will be her last day.
The group therapy session is an hour long. It is 9 pm when it is all said and done. Ms ____ offers to drive me home. I am grateful – walking around in the evening makes me uncomfortable. On the drive home, Ms ____ tells me how she originally did not want to work with this population, she had an interest in geriatrics. The way she tells her journey, this line of work chose her. She offers information about other organizations where I could gain more experience. We drive up to my apartment and she tells me that no matter who I work for, I should always cross my t’s and dot my i’s, because it will be my license on the line. A license I am 87% sure I want.



This week I got a glimpse into my future.

On Thursday, a medical resident from Hopkins came as part of some program to work with our medical director. His Spanish isn’t that great so they asked me to be his interpreter for the day.

Now, during the school year I volunteer as an interpreter at a Family Planning clinic. I figure, it’ll be the same thing only less talk about contraception and there will be more male patients.

Yeah no.

In the four hours that he was there, Dr. Resident saw three patients and I was with him for two of them.

Patient #1:
Pretty simple, muscle pain that Dr. Resident believes to be a pulled muscle from heavy lifting

Now Dr. Resident technically works under the director so when we finished we had to get Dr. Boss Lady to double check and sign off on the diagnosis. The thing was Dr. Boss Lady was also seeing patients so we had to wait for her to finish up and explain our patient to her before we could even go back in the room.

Obviously I felt really awkward during this because I just stood off to the side. It was even worse when they started examining the patient with me in the room cause I didn’t know if it was appropriate I be there or not so I basically stood in a corner like I was on a time out.

Patient #2:
A little more complicated. It went something like this:
See patient was admitted to the hospital recently, okay read the hospital notes. Now the notes don’t really explain what happened, let’s talk to the patient. Okay the patient doesn’t know what to do because treatment didn’t happen since patient is uninsured. Dr. Resident points out that something doesn’t make sense because why would the hospital be like “here’s medicine to make you feel better for the kidney stone pain, let’s hope it passes but it probably won’t pass”.

Dr. Resident tells the patient “Regresamos en 2 minutos. Solo 2 minutos”
Apparently 2 minutes meant more than thirty.

In the end, the patient was left with two horrible options and we couldn’t do more to help out. When Dr. Resident asked why, my supervisor merely told him
“That’d be like opening a black hole”

It sucked but it was true. And the patient seemed to accept it more than Dr. Resident.

Dr. Resident taught me a lot that day about asking questions, different procedures and medications, he even let me write a prescription for a patient.

But the most important thing I learned was this: You can’t save everyone.
In the future, if I make it to med school and beyond, I’m going to get those nice and easy patients but I’m also going to get those patients who need more help than I can offer.

It’s like they said at orientation: you are NOT going to save Baltimore in 8 weeks. But you can make it a little better.



An Expert in the Field

As a Johns Hopkins student, I am very aware that many of the professors I’ve had as instructors are experts in their fields. But what does that mean, really? (Rhetorical question!) An expert in her field is someone who has a special skill or knowledge in her discipline. Now this may be too broad a generalization, but at the risk of misstating something about my cohort, I venture a guess that none of us are exactly experts in our respective placements, whether this is our field or not. This is not a bad thing.

Before moving to Baltimore, the most I knew about it was where it was on the map (and that it wasn’t the capital of Maryland, apparently). However, even after moving to Baltimore, attending JHU and being a part of the 2016 CIIP cohort, I know I’m far from being an expert on Baltimore. Perhaps unique to my experience (and hopefully unique, for the sake of my cohort—it’s been 9-4 training for three weeks) I have had the pleasure of completing three weeks of training before actually starting my six-week summer position as a site counselor for SummerREADs. It’s been three weeks of experts in non-profits, experts in teaching, experts in play (seriously, Playworks, they’re amazing), experts in almost every field that touches even tangentially with a summer reading program. But what I’ve found most important throughout all the hours of workshops and panels and orientations I’ve sat through is that together we may not be experts, but our love for Baltimore has brought us all in one room from 9AM-4PM Monday- Thursday. We may not be experts on the city but we hold a great deal of love for Baltimore, and in my specific organization’s case, the Baltimore’s young people.

The savior complex is a very real, very dangerous risk of working in a city rife with injustice. The obligation to do one’s part must never be conflated with one’s desire to save. The reality is, this city doesn’t need me. It may benefit from the six weeks I spend reading with children from grades 1-3 to improve, or at the very least maintain, literacy levels. But there are a 100 more of me. The city doesn’t need me. But I know I need the city. I don’t need to save the city; I just need to be a part of it. If I called myself a hero, I’d have to claim to be an outsider—but I can’t. This is my community now too. I’ve been fortunate, in my position as a Hopkins student to work with the city’s youth in different public schools from Moravia Park, to Roland Park and now Commodore. I’ve been so touched by my students that I have to claim them as mine, this city as mine—I can’t help it. But that makes the responsibility of providing youth programming mine too (well, mine and MOST’s and a whole bunch of amazing nonprofits putting on programming this summer).

I many not have started my position yet, but three weeks of training in I’m ready to accept what I don’t know, embrace what I do, and do my best to make myself of use if even to one student. There’s a lot I won’t understand, being a new Baltimorean, but the best part of being in Baltimore for the summer is that I have a lot of time before me to fix that.



Last week I went to a talk where DevRock argued against Beyonce's critics who said she was capitalizing black suffering through her super bowl show. He said that although Beyonce is a multi- millionaire, her music is an attempt to bridge connections between the older and younger generation. By wearing a beret that saluted the Black Panthers, Beyonce allows her Behive, mostly composed of generation, to research what it means to wear a beret, or even at the most basic level research about the black panthers. This message really resonated with me because I also see myself as a connector, someone who is a middle-man. While I am certainly not saying that I am equal to Beyonce or that I am Beyonce, I do believe I am in a similar position. I know I am not an activist, I know I am not going to be the most effective grassroots community organizer because I do not feel comfortable telling marginalized black people what they should do with their community. In similar vein, I know I am not comfortable working in the private sector because I am not able to tolerate whiteness at 100. For a long time I was scared and frustrated because I know I didn't want to be in either end of this spectrum, but after starting working at Impact Hub I have learned to embrace the middle position I am in, as it is an asset that is valuable to guide the future of Baltimore in a equitable way. Now that I know I am a connector, hopefully I can make connections that can be beneficial to people, organizations and the whole city of Baltimore


“Watch not to step on anyone’s toes,” this is what my cohort member and colleague was told after she met with me Thursday morning for some fair development chit chat and brainstorming over a cup of coffee at my new favorite cafe, Charmingtons. What could her supervisor have possibly meant? All she did was talk to me about my organization’s work around community organizing, and ask for some advice as she takes on the task of surveying over 5 neighborhoods in Central Baltimore. United Workers has over 15 years of experience with community organizing and now that I have had my orientation, I know how they work and have had some similar experience with canvassing and surveying in adjacent communities. It made complete sense that my colleague would ask for some advice, yet still her supervisor made her feel uncomfortable and challenged in her decision to reach out to me. It was this awkward and suspicious reaction to our meeting, that I began to notice the bureaucratic influence that has possibly shadowed her non-profit and several other non-profits around the city. It also made me realize how lucky I was to be placed at United Workers, a very liberal and righteous organization that does not let red tape or political objectives influence their fight for human rights in any way. I was able to talk to my co-workers and supervisors at United Workers about this incident in a way that was unfiltered and genuine and they offered the same candid response. I have come to realize that I am not someone who does well in a job or organization that is subjected and influenced by larger political aims. I have also come to terms with the fact that I am probably going to get fired, a lot, if I ever join an organization that places such restrictions on me. But, I guess that’s okay right? Shouldn’t I always be trying to get fired? Haha. I’m starting to really like that idea.



Saturday mornings I usually sleep in, but not today. Instead, I woke bright and early and made my way over to Hampden where one of the managing partners, Polly, lives. We were having a staff retreat—the first in many years. I guess since it was at her house, it was more of a staff stay-cation. She had a beautiful arrangement of fruit, muffins, frittata, and yummy eats that it definitely had a retreat vibe in a bed-and-breakfast kind of way.

Fusion is going through a lot of changes as they scale up their operations. This development comes with the growing pains of having to formalize many of their processes and deal with uncertainties and decisions that will impact their future. In addition, the office is undergoing a renovation and expansion, which means that there’s no certainty your desk will still be in the place you left it the day before. Simultaneously, the normal work Fusion provides still needs to get done.

The point of the staff retreat was to address some of the changes and chaos. A human resources consultant, Francine, facilitated the retreat’s activities. After settling in, we did an icebreaker/warm-up activity that she called Telephone Pictionary. We each received a stack of index cards, with a common idiom related to conflict management on the top card. Some of these included “beating a dead horse” and “rubbing someone the wrong way.” We were first tasked with placing the first card in the back of the deck and then drawing our best pictorial rendition of the phrase on the following card. Once that was done, we passed them clockwise, and tried to interpret the drawing we received. Then we passed clockwise. This rotation happened a number of times until it had come full circle. Just like in the game telephone, the interpretations and drawings got more and more outrageous each turn, warping into something completely different than the start. It was a light-hearted and fun activity that highlighted the importance of clarity in communication, and how easily things can be interpreted in different ways. We then talked about types of conflict. Francine outlined four main types: conflict of values, power, economic, and interpersonal. We discussed examples of each and shared anecdotes about how we resolved each type in our personal lives.

For our last activity, we discussed the main types of conflict resolution: competing, which was assertive and uncooperative, accommodating, which was unassertive and cooperative, avoiding, which was unassertive and uncooperative, and collaborating, which was assertive and cooperative. The fifth was compromising, which was the middle ground of assertiveness and cooperation. We discussed pros and cons of each, and people shared which category they felt most represented them. Everyone spoke candidly and listened actively. I truly felt part of a community, much more than a mere group of individuals who work in the same place. The passion for their mission, for helping Baltimore, and the love they had for each other was apparent.

This retreat reminded me a lot of training meetings for Outdoor Pursuits, the outdoors program at Hopkins that I am an active part of. We had actually done the conflict management style activity before, and Telephone Pictionary is a classic game on the Outdoors Pre-Orientation trips I lead every August since coming to college. Outdoor Pursuits invests a great deal of time into self-reflection and personal development. Just like when these activities had made me feel at home with Outdoor Pursuits, I similarly felt part of Fusion’s small caring community. Last week I had settled into the Fusion workplace, and after this retreat I felt like a part of the Fusion family.




The past week was a great opportunity to further my current work at Station North, experience a variety of new situations, and continue to expand my knowledge about the community I'm working in and Baltimore in general.

The week began with attending the Maryland Arts & Entertainment Districts Annual Meeting, which was a conference of all 22 state-designated A&E Districts to discuss exciting things like public signage and grant writing! I kid, it really was interesting to see how Station North functions as an A&E district compared to ones designated in places spanning the Eastern Shore to near the West Virginia Border. My biggest takeaway from the event was the dilemma of what the idea of an "arts district" is trying to accomplish. Is it to foster a strong and vibrant artistic community? Is it an initiative to promote development through art endeavors? Or is it just a way to turn your town into a tourist attraction? It seemed like the third was what the majority of districts in Maryland chose, and Station North as a hub for artists, live/work studios, and galleries in Baltimore is a contrast to the aims and ambitions of the others. I hope to further explore the effects of the designation of Station North as an A&E district and what that means for things like gentrification in Charles North and Greenmount West.

The rest of the week has been a blur. I've helped search for possible foundations to reach out to for funding for the Station North Mini Golf Project, helped run an event on the Ynot Lot, and hung flyers around Charles North and Greenmount West in anticipation of our block party next Friday. Every day is something different which is an aspect of this internship that I really appreciate.

I think one of the most interesting and fulfilling parts of my internship so far is meeting and seeing important people and places in the art scene in Baltimore. I've crossed paths with Gaia (real name Andrew), a world-renowned street artist from Baltimore several times, and have gotten to know several of the most well-established galleries and studios in the city. It's a community I'm incredibly isolated from, being a Hopkins student the school isn't exactly known for its vibrant arts/music scene (don't get me wrong I'm not trying to take away from what does exist) so its one part of Baltimore I've been able to learn a lot about in such a short period of time. The internship could not be going better and partnering with my specific non-profit has certainly been the right fit for me.

I'm looking forward to the week ahead as we ramp up preparation for the block party. There's still a lot of work to be done and there's still plenty of promotion that needs to be handled so I'll certainly be incredibly busy in the next couple days.




This week, I spent my time getting my lesson plans done for the students in the summer program that begins next week. As my co-teacher and I sat down to review the lesson plans we had made, she mentioned wanting to restructure a "behavior chart" that she had previously made which demonstrated the behavior of the students throughout the day. I came up with a brand new idea for a visual and began explaining it to her. As I unraveled my idea her face, which had begun as a smile, drooped with concern. I had mentioned making a behavior board in the style of Candy Land, but with Baltimore landmarks such as Camden Yards, The National Aquarium, and other kid friendly locations. Her face had fallen because she realized that not everyone in the class would know of these famous landmarks. Her voice changed dramatically as she reminded me that many of these kids were not privileged enough to even be able to recognize them. I knew this going into the program but realized how easily I forgot. Negligence got the best of me as I have the ability to remove myself daily from what the community members of Reservoir Hill refer to themselves as “The Hood.” I have come to the realization that my “privilege” is not something that I can really use to relate to those who are simply trying to survive the conditions they have been engulfed in. I very rarely feel as though I am so lucky to even be alive today, when the members of the community say this on a daily basis. On a separate occasion, my site supervisor and I were having a conversation where, very plainly, me told me that my job this summer is to show these kids that there is far more out there beyond just trying to survive. Then it occurred to me that many of the youth I will be working with may not have ever even thought about going to college, since they feel as though they are lucky to be alive after receiving a High School Diploma. I then felt even more hopeless that my privilege would continue to plague my ability to help the youth in a meaningful way. Then I became conscious of the fact that the biggest reason I am even able to work at the center and try and make a difference in the Reservoir Hill Community is because I am privileged. Without dedicated and more privileged people, there would be no one to help those in need. Privilege is not something that many control before a certain age, but it is the values you develop that truly shape who you are in the end.



“What are you doing?” Be-Bop says, leaning away from his computer games and peering onto my screen.
“I’m writing a flyer.” I say, scooting over so he can balance himself on my armrest. “Wanna read it?”
I am familiar with the concept of Baltimore’s schools being underfunded and inefficient. In the words of many Baltimore residents, they’re just “bad”. But I was unprepared to be confronted by what “bad” meant in Barclay: a child going into the second grade unable to sound out the word “fun” at the top of a flyer.
I bring up this incident with my supervisor, Ms. Lottie, and she reveals to me that in Barclay many children read below their grade level or are unable to read. This is not a new phenomenon: some of the parents we provide employment services to are semiliterate or illiterate. Barclay has been impacted by decades of the Baltimore City Public School system’s failures.
As summer begins, Ms. Lottie and I scramble to find free camps to keep the children occupied. After filling a free arts camp in two days, we move on to recruiting for a free summer sports camp. Again, spaces are incredibly limited.
Keeping the children occupied is something that Ms. Lottie worries about constantly. She takes me to Greenmount Rec Center, one of the few remaining after Stephanie Rawlings Blake shut down over 20 centers in 2013. The rec center is small, dark and full of broken equipment. It is adjacent to a city-owned abandoned building. Ms. Lottie dreams of improvements, but the Parks and Rec Department is impossible to work with. Despite having earned a $20,000 grant to paint a mural on the Rec Center, for months Ms. Lottie has been unable to arrange a meeting between the artist and Parks and Rec due to the department’s unresponsiveness.
For teenagers in the neighborhood, the summer is bleak. Too old for camps and unenthusiastic about the dilapidated rec center on an abandoned block, many face months of video games and boredom. Most of the teenagers did not make it through YouthWork’s bureaucracy, but Ms. Lottie is able to secure a few boys jobs at Boone Street Farm. She reminiscences about a group of teenagers she mentored in 2008, who led a door-knocking campaign to save rec centers and took trips to DC and New York. Although she is retiring next year, she would like to plant to seed for a similar program in Barclay before she leaves.
I was unprepared for how emotional it would be for me to interact with something as universally accepted as the failure of the Baltimore City Public School system. I am not a person that feels anger very frequently, but this is how I feel about our city denying curious, bright-eyed, intelligent children the education they deserve. Nine months of immersion in the utopic Hopkins campus allowed myself to push this anger out of my mind. I am so thankful that my CIIP placement has brought me back to reality.


As I sat at my desk trying to interpret the foreign language that is Javascript, I remembered that I still had to send an email to the yoga coordinator, finalize the flyer for the three on three basketball tournament, prepare to manage the open gym, and run over to the Strong City building to pick up copies that had been ordered earlier that day. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, I took a deep breath and tried to focus on the task at hand. Building a website is something I have never done before, but also something that I know would help the center, so I felt compelled to make it perfect. I realized that at this point that I felt more than comfortable at my placement, but invested in its future.




With two weeks at the mayor's office under my belt, my level of comfort with the environment and the projects that I am responsible for has grown considerably. The reason for such a swift transition lies in the manner in which the full-time employees have accepted me into their workgroups (divisions of Human Services that target specific social issues such as housing for the homeless population, facilitating hiring of the homeless or the at-risk population, and improving the collaboration and data sharing between the dozens of non-profits who use their resources to assist the homeless population). In particular, the discussions between the policy makers who develop the policies and procedures for the homeless programs and the social workers who interact on a daily basis with our brothers and sisters who are struggling to provide for themselves further highlighted the dire relationship Baltimore has with its homeless population. For one reason in particular, the most notable meeting I observed this past week took place at the Saint Vincent de Paul Beans and Bread Shelter on 402 S Bond Street. I walked into Beans & Bread just as they were opening their doors to the public and had to wait in line to sign in along with 25-30 other men and women. They could see from my dress shoes and button-up shirt that I wasn’t signing in for the morning meal and client engagement, but that didn’t stop them from asking my name, where I was from, and what brought me to Beans & Bread. The elderly man in line before me especially took interest in what I was doing over the summer and we ended up having a 20-minute conversation covering everything from why I grew up overseas to our expectations of the Raven’s upcoming season. However, what I’ll remember most from that morning conversation is his story. He spent most of his adult life in Guinea but around six years ago he and his wife wanted a change. It was the appeal of the “American dream” that drew them to sell all their possessions in Conakry and to make the leap of faith. They arrived on workers’ visas where he started as a security guard and she became a waitress at the local Applebee’s. They were enjoying their new life, until his wife grew sick and was eventually diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. She passed away just a few months after her late diagnosis, but in those few months, he had to spend all they had, in addition to borrowing from the bank, to pay for her medical bills in hopes of a miracle. That was three years ago. He’s been jumping from shelter to abandoned building to park bench ever since. Yet, as our conversation came to an end he shook my hand firmly and said with a smile in French, “Son, I will be praying for you and all that you will accomplish. You will be rewarded for your hard work. May God bless you.”. That conversation constantly reminds me that the applications I am processing are far more than just PDFs and keeps me falling into a robotic frame of mind. Individuals and families in desperate situations are on the other side of the computer screen. Each day around 4:00 pm I pack up my desk and catch the circulator towards Charles Village to walk into a house with a full fridge, running water, and a comfortable bed. Where does Michelle go? Where does Deshawn go? Where do Pamela and her three children go?




I remember during freshmen orientation, I was afraid that I would be ostracized, that I wouldn’t find anyone that would accept me for who I was. I was afraid I wouldn’t make any friends being the awkward self that I was. This sentiment was replicated when I began working in the Responsive Services. I wasn’t worried about not getting along with the staff members; after almost two weeks of working together, I feel a sense of belonging and am slowly getting to know each member better and better. I was more worried about being able to interact with the clients. I felt uncomfortable interacting with them the first two days because I wasn’t sure what to say to them. Whenever they asked questions, I had no answers for them because I didn’t want to give them the wrong answer if I wasn’t fully sure. I didn’t know how to help them besides giving them mail. I felt helpless, just as I felt helpless in the midst of the 1400 freshmen class.



By week two I believe I have a better understanding of United Way’s impact on the community of Baltimore. I was pleasantly surprised to meet so many people who are passionate about the wellbeing of the city and its residents. I believe one of the many reasons people, including myself, have become so invested in this city is due to its size. Most of my coworkers have lived here for most if not their whole lives. That means many people can name something or someone they know from most of the communities that make up this city. The people at United Way are not far removed from the issues that afflict Baltimore, which makes their work so much more impactful, which is one of the things I enjoy most about working there.
This week I participated in United Way’s Worldwide Day of Action. We cleaned and painted the inside of the Eutaw Marshburn Recreation Center. This rec center was closed after the uprising due to lack of funding and has since been used by the adjoining school. The goal that day was to paint and revamp this area in hopes to attract donors to invest money in programming and staffing the center. A recreation center like this one could serve many uses, especially during the hot summer since it is an air conditioned facility. It was very rewarding watching the children come in and seeing the excited look on their faces when they saw this was done for them. Sadly, the other thing I experienced was a bit of hopelessness. There was only so much we could do for this area- the volunteer coordinator kept repeating, “All we can do is make it pretty”. We could not staff the area or provide event plans, so our efforts would be without reward if no one puts money into improving it. However, with the news reporters and other influential people present that day hopefully some donors will take interest and bring back this neighborhood’s much needed recreation center, and this is something I will be able to say I helped make happen.
I have also spent a lot of time this week calling dental offices to spread information about the expansion of the dental clinic at the Project Homeless Connect event in September. Doing cold calls is something I have never done before, so at first it was very nerve wracking and I was resistant to talk over the phone. After about 50 calls, I have become much more comfortable with it and realize the importance of spreading the knowledge of this event. I am also in the process of applying for a mini-grant to secure more money for the event. This has helped me to learn how to write about the event and what it is that we are doing for the Baltimore community. At the end of week 2 I am amazed I could learn almost double the amount of new skills that I learned in week 1.




This week, I have gotten into the routine of various tasks at the Joy Wellness Center. When patients call, I am eager to pick up the phone and find out how I can best help them. I know where files are and am now able to answer the questions new volunteers have. This being said, I have also begun to notice small frustrations and flaws in our system and patient population.
Throughout the week, I made phone calls to schedule diabetes self-management (DSM) consults for our patients. To be eligible for a DSM consult at Joy Wellness Center, the patients are referred to us from either Shepherd’s Clinic or Medstar Hospital. We have a thick binder in our office filled with patients whose physicians have tagged them as being pre-diabetic or diabetic. As I went through the patient lists and spoke with them, some were willing and interested in setting an appointment at that moment. Others needed to check their schedule first, and thus said they would call back. A few, however, were uninterested. They felt they had their blood sugar levels under control, and so I didn’t push. My supervisor, however, suggested that I give the patients less of an option, that I tell them that I am calling to schedule the appointment, not that I am calling to gauge their interest in an appointment. My supervisor’s suggestion made sense to the Hopkins science major in me. It is, as with any disease, better to get it under control as early as possible, whether through education or medication. Yet, from our discussions during orientation, I felt that I was stepping beyond my bounds. In this situation, I was questioning the patient’s judgement of her own health and self-control, and telling her that I, and her physician, knew what was better for her.
This feeling lingered with me as I continued to schedule DSM and nutrition consults for patients who at first did not feel they needed one. Then, during a weight loss food demo we conducted, I listened to the patients talk about how they slowly changed their diets and their lifestyles. The change wasn’t because they weren’t aware that they needed to eat more vegetables, but because, through DSM consults, they learned about how diabetes affected their bodies physiologically. This knowledge gave them the motivation to drive extra minutes to a supermarket and to shop around the perimeter, getting produce rather than processed carbohydrates.
I continue to wrestle with this concept in medical settings, but also with respect to changes that are going on around Baltimore and the interactions between Hopkins and the community. A fine line exists between providing suggestions with the best interest of the receiver or the giver in mind. At Joy Wellness Center, however, the latter half of the week has now convinced me that our work at the clinic is on the patient-focused side of that line.




One of the larger adjustments of this week was definitely an increased sense of comfort and almost “finding my place” within the organization. Though I’m still doing a mishmash of activities both in the office location and the clinic, I’m starting to get more concrete, longer-term activities as well as becoming part of certain projects people are a part of. My first week was filled with a lot of paperwork and, though important, busy work. Now, however, with Pride approaching and Star Track being the organization that plans the Youth Zone section, there’s a lot to do both for the weekend of Pride and the week leading up with the Star Track specific events. If anything, I began to feel a little overwhelmed, specifically earlier this week. I have weekly check-ins with my supervisor and her preferred method of relaying information is to give it to me all at once in a long conversation about everything there is to do. Once I left that meeting, I had trouble arranging what I should prioritize and the next day I voiced my concern to her. One of the high points of the week was just how understanding she was, and moreover how relatable my problem was to both her and really everyone that works there. We then worked together on a plan for future check-ins that works for both of us, and having that problem-solving experience was definitely an experience I’ve learned from.
All of this aside, my experiences this week included a great deal more of community interaction and exposure. Yesterday, Star Track had a testing event at Walgreens in which we offered free HIV testing as well as outreach in the neighborhood offering people condoms. Walking up to complete strangers offering them condoms was a lot more fun than I anticipated and, more importantly, people were much more receptive. Rather than just averting their eyes in disgust like I can guarantee the majority of folks would do where I’m from, they not only openly took some but stopped to talk to us for awhile, either joking about their sex lives or asking earnest questions about HIV testing. Though there were also the few unresponsive community members, and the majority weren’t adolescents which is our target population, simply walking around the block proved to be very effective. Having been in Baltimore for two years, I’m realizing more and more how open people are to conversation and how much respect there is for community. Though sex is still a taboo topic to others, many have no problem discussing it and receiving some advice, which to me seems like a much healthier alternative to keeping it suppressed. What I learned was that more than this, they’re also very open about their sex lives and overall sexuality. In this next week, I’m looking forward to further developing my relationship with the community and increasing the level of conversation about these topics.





A small step for Chase Brexton, a giant leap for Joyce Lin. This week I graduated from sorting condoms to labeling and stuffing envelopes! Though my contribution is still less than I hoped it would be, I am happy to report that I am doing very necessary work, addressing letters and stuffing envelopes. Even though its quite tedious and repetitive, I am proud of the fact that Chase Brexton clients around the state will be opening letters that I wrote and stuffed. In addition, I finally secured my own cubicle with a name tag after a week and a half of floating around the office common table. I am beginning to get used to the routine of 9-5 but it is still a struggle after 3pm. However, the days that I get a project or get to keep busy, feel much shorter and less tedious. One thing I have mastered after this week is the art of folding letters to fit into envelopes with breakneck speed as well as most of the postal codes that correspond to the different areas and neighborhoods in Maryland.

Outside of the office work, I have been exploring the restaurants around Chase Brexton during my lunch break. So far, I've spotted a few of the spots that peer mentors and friends have suggested and will be hitting them up in the near future.

Oh and I also got to make a HIV prevention cascade diagram using Chase Brexton PrEP data! But I don't think my supervisor ever looked at the finished product...
Overall, decent week, looking forward to more projects to make the day go by.





"Age is just a number." Never in my life has this been more true.

As I walked into a roomful of twenty strangers, it became immediately obvious that I was the youngest one there... by far. I was in a new place surrounded by new faces. Suddenly if felt like the first day of 6th grade again, where the table you sat at for lunch would determine the rest of your fate for the next 3 years. Ok, so maybe I was being a little dramatic in expressing my anxiety, but it didn't make the experience any less daunting. I was walking into the very first day of HIV Counseling, Testing, and Referral Training--most frequently attended by social workers, nurse practitioners, and MPH candidates. This 3-day state certification training would equip me with the necessary skills to not only administer rapid HIV testing, but also provide pre- and post-test counseling on risk reduction, behavior change, and linkage to care. It was a dream come true.

Surrounded by experienced community health workers and disease intervention specialists seeking continuing education units, I felt extremely inadequate in terms of professional experience and age. So naturally at first, I was less willing to speak up and chat with the people around me. However as the day passed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that though I may lack in professional training, I actually have much more experience in HIV outreach work than many of the other participants. I was also so glad to be learning persuasion and behavior change techniques in regards to practicing safer sex, something that I have had less exposure to prior to this week. "What are you currently doing to protect yourself?" is a far better question to ask than "Do you use condoms?" especially if you've never met your client before. Ultimately, HIV counseling is about gaining trust and building relationships---even with people who may not want to hear what you have to say. So I can't wait to start practicing the skills that I have learned this past week!


Food ACcess.jpg


Birds sing over the steely waters in Virginia. The seven of us staff each stand with our hands on our hips and our chest puffed, eyes cast down in thought. Wind moves around us but we stay rigid. After two minutes, we shake it out and drop our pensive power poses. ‘Let’s try and bookmark this moment- the grass and the water and the birds, for when things get shaky this summer,’ one of the staff says. ‘Hold this as a place to come back to.’



Never judge a row house by its front door. That is something I learned this week while I drove through the city searching for little-known gardens and pocket parks. My project this week has been determining which green spaces in the city should be designated as "qualified community-managed open space," or QCMOS. My organization submits a list of QCMOS spaces to the city government twice a year so they know that they should not actively market the lots on which these spaces exist. There are certain requirements to be QCMOS, but I discovered that there is a certain feel in a well-loved green space: a design, an appreciation, a use. Sometimes they're subtle, like a few trees on a mowed lawn. Sometimes, the uses are obvious-like those gardens that are home to fruits and vegetables, often located in some of the worst food deserts in the city. I talked to community members when I was able to contact them about their spaces, but when they were difficult to reach, I went on a hunt for their lots. What was most exciting during my search for these spaces was discovering the most whimsical, vibrant gardens and parks nestled in the alley ways of classic Baltimore row homes. Often times the street address lead me to an unassuming property, perhaps a few vacant lots or homes nearby, but once I looked a little deeper, greenery would appear where neighbors and community members had transformed a vacant lot into an oasis. I look forward to discovering more of Baltimore's hidden greenery in the weeks to come.




Is it possible for one person to do too much? Yeah, it most definitely is. Speaking from my experience: the life of an average Hopkins student can be a prime example of someone who does too much. When nearly all your classmates do such amazing things, it can feel overwhelming trying to keep up. Not only is this unhealthy because of the pressure placed upon you, but it also breeds an environment where students compete with one another and do activities they may not genuinely care about.
When I came to Hopkins, I can say that I definitely had a problem with comparing myself to others. I had friends who somehow found the time for various clubs and activities, while maintaining awesome grades and a robust social life. I wanted that, so I tried to go out there and do it myself. Over the course of freshman year, I realized I placed too much onto my plate between schoolwork and other activities; often times I found myself half-assing a lot of my commitments. Most of the clubs I joined, especially ones centered upon community service, wouldn’t accept such a poor commitment so I needed to find a way to cut back on activities I participated in.
It took a lot of lengthy discussions among friends and self-reflection to see that being a part of service clubs, like Thread, wasn’t about me at all. Instead, it was about doing what was best for my mentee (in the case of Thread) or whichever community that was being served. Additionally, I also needed to realize that I wouldn’t know what was best for anyone if I didn’t first get to know them. From my example of joining Thread, it was selfish of me to believe that I could show up in this Baltimore City high school student’s life and expect to make a difference. It was selfish to join Thread for the mere reason that I wanted to look good to my friends and family. And it was most definitely selfish of me to use Thread as a vehicle for my journey to the promise land of medical school. For that, I regret ever joining because I joined for all the wrong reasons.
It makes me uneasy to think that I ever thought of service in that light (as another checkbox for medical school), and I don’t believe the competitive atmosphere around Hopkins helped. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many Hopkins students still think of community service in this way: where they can step into a situation and “save” the community. I’ve acknowledged my past and believe I’ve grown far out of that perspective. That isn’t to say I’m a social justice savant by any means. Instead, I consider myself as someone who is still constantly learning. The more I learn about societal issues, the more interested I am and want to educate friends and family. I hope that by drawing from experience, I can relate to others and encourage them to think outside of themselves. But of course, like most change, I know I can only nudge people in the direction I want them to go and it won’t happen overnight.



Big picture: 26:78*. The ratio of women in the computing work force to the ratio of men. Little picture: 71% versus 29%. The ratio of women to men at the Code in the Schools headquarters on Thursday for staff training. At a time when the number of women in tech nationally is in decline, it’s impossible to say that my office is a microcosm for the computing workforce in America. It’s just the opposite.
Our office is a young womens’ club. Connections and ideas are traded like currency in meetings where women make up the majority of those sitting at the table. I sit in on one meeting with a youthful tech coworking space and mentally take note of the demographics. The percentage here is simple to calculate. Of the 6 people in this meeting, 100% are female. 4 from our company, 2 from theirs. Two from our company are my two bosses.
“What it’s it like to work in a place with so many women?” I ask my friend Derek over Turkish food during a staff lunch. To our left, little 19 year old Sean looks like a deer caught in the headlights as our boss talks about ‘pumping’ at the office to someone next to him. “Not to be sexist,” Derek mumbles as he takes a quick glance around, “but sometimes it gives me a headache.”
Where Derek is discomfited, I am in my zone. Working for two awesome, powerful, boss ladies changes the game more than I thought it would. Not only are they inspiring, but they always make sure to make me feel included. I feel more comfortable asking questions when they arise. I begin to voice my thoughts at meetings we take with other companies. Just as I’m starting to wonder if it’s ok for me to speak up like this, I receive validation from one of my bosses in the form a Slack message that says: we just wanted to let you know you’re kicking ass.
I leave the office on Friday feeling tired but successful. I 3D printed a star from yellow filaments today with my initials cut out of it during some spare time. This has been my first time designing an object to 3D print on my own, and I feel empowered. I feel like I’ll never need help from anyone else again. I am a female engineer, hear me roar.
That defiance is knocked out of me abruptly at the bus stop. On this dreary afternoon, a lanky man stops in front of my bench and asks if the seat next to me is taken. I say it isn’t. My senses are heightened as they always are when a stranger talks to me when we’re alone on a street. “Boy, I wish you were waiting on me,” he says, and puts a hand on my bare arm. He asks if I’m married, and then starts to propose, with a hand still on mine. My heart is beating uncontrollably and I can feel fear building in my sternum as I call my friend Christine and tell the man, sorry, a friend is calling and I have to take this.
Ore from work finds me standing under the muted red awning of Pearson’s Florist as I’m attempting to peer around the corner of North Ave and Charles to look for my bus. I jump back when she asks “what are you doing”, my body already on high alert. I tell her I was just proposed to and she laughs. “You gotta tell those guys to fuck off,” she instructs. “Just let them know they can’t mess with you.”
“I can’t.” I think back to the discomfort I feel every time a North Ave character stops in front of me on my bench and tells me I’m pretty, how I flash a small grimace in thanks because I suppose they’re just being nice and I just want them to be on their way. To the man who called me “beautiful mami” and stared into my eyes and wouldn’t leave until I said he was handsome. To the whistle, the “hey baby,” and the smack of the lips, and the white truck that pulled over to the corner and the man who started to get out as I hightailed it down Charles St to meet the JHMI earlier than the stop
Another bus pulls up to the corner. Still not the JHMI. I see the latest source of my fear amble to get on and he gives me a tip of his straw fedora when he spots me hiding under the awning. I avoid his watery blue eyes and turn my back on him to face Ore. “I don’t know how to do that,” I tell her. Derek might experience some discomfort in a woman’s world, but I would trade discomfort from this occasional panic any day. I just don’t know how. “Men are scary,” I say feebly, and I hate how tiny I feel in this moment.
She kicks her skateboard up deftly from the ground to grab with one arm. “Yeah,” she nods, “they are.”




Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods, but what does that really mean? After completing two weeks at my internship placement and attending this week’s Bites session, the ways space has been delineated and constructed in a city like Baltimore have been on my mind. While it was certainly upsetting to learn about neglected and forgotten communities like East Baltimore Midway, the fact that neighborhoods right around the corner from campus, like Hampden and Guilford, are products of racist systems and covenants and remain, essentially, white-only spaces, was particularly disturbing. In relation to the Liberty Elementary, the school where I am working this summer, the legacy of prejudiced urban planning continues to apply. That the school’s student population is almost 100 percent African American and comes from low/impoverished socioeconomic backgrounds is no coincidence. Rather, this combination replicates itself in many of Baltimore’s schools, clearly indicating that redlining and other racist urban policies not only hinder a community’s economic opportunities, but education as well. Liberty Elementary is special because of the amazing principal and teachers there who ensure that the students, despite economic constraints, will still be able to go on field trips and have access to technology. The majority of public schools in the city simply do not have the same structure, resources, or grant money to function as Liberty does. With yearly budget cuts and rapid teacher turnover, these schools often struggle to adequately serve its students who, as mentioned above, are majority black and poor. Disadvantage becomes compounded. Although classrooms supposedly equalize opportunities no matter race or economic standing, they have come to represent another space that is highly segregated.

By staying in this city this summer, I find myself constantly traveling between two very disparate types of spaces. From going to Hampden’s Honfest or walking around the streets of Federal Hill after dinner, to taking the MTA to the neighborhood of Gwynn Oak, right off of Liberty Heights Avenue, it becomes very clear that Baltimore’s many neighborhoods are far from integrated. It grows more and more obvious when a space is predominantly white and, by extent, more privileged economically and politically. It is also interesting that, as an Asian person, the only space I often see people like myself is basically when I am on the Hopkins campus (not to say that Asians experience anywhere near the level of residential exclusion that black people have experienced). It I hope to continue reconciling and understanding how space and race intertwine as I navigate through Baltimore for the rest of the summer.




This week I definitely became more acclimated to the work environment at PJC. I am beginning to have more projects, and I feel as though I am learning a lot. The biggest learning curve for me has been learning all of the legal terms within landlord-tenant law. This week, I began doing client intakes all on my own, which basically means calling people who have issues with their landlord and asking them questions. This part has been difficult for me, because I am often unsure of the right questions to ask. Once I speak to an attorney about the issue I am then able to give the client legal advise. This part has been especially cool, because it is awesome giving them options in a situation where they felt helpless. I have learned how important it is for all people, especially those of low socio-economic status, to know their rights as a way to empower them when faced with sticky situations. Overall, this week was incredibly valuable in helping me see how I can be a part of reform in the often corrupt Baltimore housing system.



Heels clanking on the floor, a cacophony of voices mixing into inaudible conversations, and brightly colored pamphlets lying on tablecloths fill the lobbies and hallways of the Department of Juvenile Services. Today, I experience a different side to being an attorney that most people do not associate with work of a lawyer. At this Resource Fair, my task was to compile brochures and information from all the organizations that would provide any relevant service to current and potential clients. It was not a difficult task. However, I was amazed by the sheer number of organization that were present, who wanted to help young adults become set on a new path. These services range anywhere from substance abuse treatment, free job training, and even psychiatric service. Talking to the vendors and founders of these organizations, many of them run by a scarce amount of people, reminds me that, although there are forces in society that are negative, there are also many forces of good.




I spent a fair amount of time this week in courtrooms and the Baltimore City Detention Center. I find it difficult to enter either without later reflecting on reform efforts that might improve the two. Entering a jail is always a disquieting experience for me. I gain a powerful sense of fulfillment knowing that I am working to assist individuals searching for a second chance during their incarceration. That sense of fulfillment, however, is often trumped by the feeling of intimidation created by working within the confines of a building as colossal as BCDC. It is that sense of intimidation that motivates me to return to incarcerated populations. I maintain a firm belief in the importance of constructive programs for inmates, such as tutoring for GED exams or career preparation. I pursue these efforts on my own as a tutor in BCDC. The reason I chose to work with CIIP and the Public Defender’s Office was to enhance my understanding of the legal processes that might affect these individuals in addition to some of the personal volunteer work I do on my own. The question I always end up settling on, then, is how to convince local and federal government officials of the importance of rehabilitative and constructive programs for incarcerated individuals. The climate seems ripe, especially in Baltimore, for criminal justice reform that allows those behind bars to work towards meaningful self-improvement and introspective reflection. Congress and local officials often champion the importance of changing the criminal justice system, but those on the inside see no progress. I would like to get more involved in the process of lobbying officials in Baltimore to enact changes that would benefit the men I have been working with since starting CIIP. Perhaps I could contact local officials to support rehabilitative programs for those in BCDC or other detainment facilities. Moreover, I could try to build larger bridges between Hopkins and local ex-offender advocacy groups. I have already had the chance to do so through the Hopkins Jail Tutorial Project, but I see the need for large-scale, systemically-focused advocacy. CIIP makes me think at a grander level for reformative efforts, and I would like to see Hopkins involve itself in a very concrete fashion in the city’s efforts to improve the lives of those incarcerated and those re-entering. Perhaps I could contact some of the attorneys with whom I work now after my internship is completed to involve themselves in this kind of advocacy work as well. My general feeling after my second week, however, is one of focus on future efforts. After Thursday’s ruling in the trial of Officer Goodson, many seem ready to discuss criminal justice reform at the systemic level. I hope to be a part of that effort.




The blood from my face drained at the click of an email. As I was sitting down in my oh-so-comfy chair, I saw an e-mail pop up from Patrick “Call me ASAP.” What could it be? He never emails unless it’s him saying he’ll be late or has a meeting that morning. I thought through all of the mistakes I may have made over the last week, all of the miscommunications on my part, the stressful cringed faces Patrick has made, and all of the reasons he has to fire me. He could fire me, right? I just get a little anxious at any sign of change or surprise. It turns out he was calling to give me a big project, one that could change the face of the LGBTQ equality movement.
I do believe that my supervisor is gaining more confidence in me because he says he's surprised by how well I've accommodated to this environment. He (and other employees) was stupefied that I got so excited to purchase a Step & Repeat banner and write a press release because apparently not everyone gets excited about it!
The big project I mentioned earlier is kind of exciting now that I know what it is. I learned what presumptive parentage and remand mean! I was taken under the wing of our lead attorney Jer who is currently heading a big case being presented to the MD Court of Appeals called Conover v Conover (the court only sees about 50 cases a year) and I get to draft the press release for the ruling. We were kind of worried because I don't study law nor do I know anything about laws (a sad reality for many Americans) but I think it will work out and Patrick thinks it’s an advantage to not know what all of these words mean, because the purpose of press releases is to get the word out and I don’t know too many people who know what the word remand is. I got so excited about doing this that, during my lunch break, I watched an hour long video of the court case in April which was pretty awesome. It was interesting seeing a co-worker in action.
A main concern I had I was that I would be bored of doing administrative desk work, which I also do during the year and I was afraid that I wouldn't thrive in a similar setting, but I love it. I learned that I love doing this kind of work, maybe because I don't know technology at all and this is like a compelling game to me. Patrick has also been very accommodating in ensuring that I'm doing tasks that make me happy and that I thrive in. Incidentally, I have been helping with planning our event for next week by purchasing the banner, naming cocktails, being volunteer coordinator, etc., which is something that I wish to do as a career and I'm glad to do it here where it's a big deal.


Even so it is hard not to occasionally get disillusioned by the juvenile justice system at times. Despite the dedicated, impressive attorneys in my office, this week I've also seen failure in other departments, failure that has serious repercussions for the children that have to endure it. In many ways it is not surprising that many people do not trust the justice system. It must feel isolating and frightening, especially for juveniles, when supposedly responsible people fail in their duties and are not held accountable. If anything, this has reinforced the importance of lawyers in this system to me. One of the only people with the power to call out ineptitude and make it right is a lawyer. The only counter for an unethical or overzealous lawyer is a good lawyer. A lawyer can be the only lifeline someone has in an otherwise dehumanizing system. At the end of week two, I'm just grateful I can learn and be of service.




This week, I finally adjusted to the reality of my placement at 901 Arts and the nature of how I am expected to work. It took me a bit of time to adjust to the environment and the independence that I am given to make my own hours and take my own breaks, but it's my responsibility to finish everything that my boss Sarah has given me on a long list of tasks without a due date. Sometimes during the week, it's easy to forget the fact that that arts programs require a lot of office work, especially considering that the space I work in is brightly colored and inviting, and my coworker and I engage in conversations about Dwayne Johnson movies and Miles Davis discographies. It's also a little disorienting still given the fact that the community part of my internship hasn't exactly started yet--the camp starts this coming Monday. Often throughout the week, I feel frustrated because I don't do fulfilling tasks nor am I really interacting with people in the neighborhood. Having said that, this week was a little bit more interactive than the first week. I got to meet some of my other coworkers who will come in to be instructors at camp and we did a role playing activity that probably made me a lot more apprehensive about working with kids than it did good. I also went around the neighborhood to pass out registration forms and was able to meet some of 901 Arts' neighbors, which was something I was hoping to do. I went to a Youth Works training and

A high point of the week I went to see Adam Jackson, the CEO of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle speak on Monday night at the 29th St. Community Center. My boss Sarah was there--she had "required" that I go, and it was kind of cool to see her at this talk because, even though we have a friendly relationship at the office, it's still kinda different to see your boss outside of work. In the spirit of talking to new people and pursuing things that interested me, I struck up a conversation with a woman named Nadirah who was sitting behind the table to sell CDs and promote LBS. She and I talked about hip hop and what LBS does to use music to promote political messages around the city. I reached out to her because it might be cool to learn more about Baltimore's own artists. I don't know how much I would be able to get involved this summer, but Sarah was encouraging of me going off and doing my own projects to tie back to 901 Arts. It would be cool to look into seeing performances, if not directly through my internship, maybe with other people in CIIP. This week's Bites of Baltimore was really engaging as well. I knew that I got lost running in Guilford for a reason--I guess I didn't realize that the streets were intentionally meant to be confusing.

In all, this week was definitely an improvement from last. I'm looking forward to meet the Youth Works students and the campers as well.



I’ve never felt so oriented in my life. A week after a week-long CIIP orientation, I enjoyed another week of orientation for mural program interns at Jubilee.

Next week, I’ll be joining 80 or so Youth Works kids for another awesome orientation.

Orientations aside, this week I felt genuinely in-touch with the neighborhood around my internship site. It feels like I’ve been a presence there, patrolling up and down Pennsylvania Avenue asking business owners to sign various contracts.

One contract is used to qualify a property for Civic Works; money set aside by the state to aide business owners with subsidized façade improvements in the wake of rioting on Pennsylvania Avenue during the Baltimore uprising in 2015.

“Did you apply for that grant?” asked my supervisor Nora.

“Oh yeah, we applied for that last October or something” the storeowner said ponderously.

Nora replied: “Yep, they’re finally acting on that now.”

At the end of the day, I like to imagine that the cooperation of the Arr @ Work mural program, Youth Works placements, and Civic Works amounts to something inspired by New Deal arts programs (Federal Art Project, WPA, that sort of thing). Alongside producing publically funded art and coordinating civic improvements, Art@ Work acts as a public summer employment program for Baltimore youth.


“I can feel the gears of bureaucracy grinding me up already” – man in a cartoon I sketched on the back of a Youth Works information sheet at a Youth Works supervisor orientation this past Thursday.

At the Youth Works orientation, there was a humid sense of frustration and confusion among the attendees. The lighting in the auditorium was on the dark side of dim, and the mics were shot. This scenario derailed both the presenters and the audience alike. Further, the presenters were hostile to several of the people asking questions.

After several segments of the presentation passed, my boredom eased and I came to anticipate the final segment of the orientation: payroll, the one genuinely informative and important piece of a three-hour program.

The strategy, of course, was to stick payroll at the end so that people would stay for the whole duration.

To be fairly honest, this week began to feel routine, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I’ve had plenty of work to do, much of it involving interaction with avenue storeowners. Art @ Work has been scrambling to get ready for the program’s start date on Monday the 27th, and preparing for that makes me excited to meet the young people employed with us this summer.

Outside of work, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to practice drawing this past week, which feels good since I’ve been drawing less often these past few years. I’ve also been biking to work every day, which is satisfying because the only time I ever get exercise is when I have to bike somewhere routinely.

Signing off…


I am <strong>not<strong> a programmer. I have never coded before. I do not really plan to code in the future. However, this week, I was given the opportunity to learn how to use wordpress and some HTML to help update Wide Angle's website. This was a neat opportunity, but find it slightly tedious, as I try the same code over and over with 99.5 playing the same songs on a loop. While I am introverted, I do really enjoy spending time around people and in the community over sitting at a computer.
A much more enjoyable part of the week was spending time at the Govans Farmers' Market. The people were kind and friendly, coming to our tent and admiring the student photographs we had on display, a few finding familiar faces. "I sing with him" one girl said while pointing at a smiling boy's portrait. Telling new people about the opportunities we offer and finding new young people who are interested in media is exciting to me. I deeply enjoying hearing others' stories and learning about their interests and passions, so the trip to this small sunny farmers' market was a great break from coding at a desk.