NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT

CHARLOTTE GREEN - MAYOR'S OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION, WEEK 3

"I am a historian, not a photographer," Mark said to me. Mark is the Mayor's photographer, and has taught me that a good photographer tells a story and doesn't just take a photo. Mark's job includes attending all of the events that the mayor attends, and also editing and uploading those photos onto the Mayor's website. He easily works over 50 hours a week, and not only has a joy for taking photos, but also for interacting with the subjects in these photos. I have shadowed Mark and watched the work he does, his photography captures a unique perspective into every event he attends.

This week I have been pushed not only with the work that goes into helping Mark, but working with many others in the communications wing of the Mayor's office. Two doors down from me is a women named Marva. Today I was tasked with helping Marva book clowns, mascots and balloon tiers for a back to school event in August which will have thousands of attendees.

I have helped Amanda to write daily newsclips. This involves waking up at around 5 am, and visiting seven online newspapers to catch up and compile all of the latest news articles into one large email. The email is critical for the office because of the importance of responding timely to news.

The office is busy, and I may not see all of my colleagues every day due to the events that everyone is running to, but I have enjoyed being included and a part of all of these many aspects of the office, and seeing the many pieces that go into running the office.

 

 

PRANATHI GANI - BALTIMORE CORPS, WEEK 3

I’m easily awed. I have a collection of quotes and speeches and poems I believe are inspiring. When I read a book or watch a movie and I easily give in to the story line. And when I talk to someone, I can easily get swept up in what they say.

It’s something I’m working on. With this summer, as I’ve been meeting different people and organizations, all who seem to have exceptional motives and values, I need to make sure I don’t fall into a trap of going along with what I hear. When I hear about Baltimore Corps’ strategic plans or speakers at an Impact Hub event, I force myself to question the missions and ongoings.

Playing Devil’s Advocate is something that working at Baltimore Corps has made me think about more. The organization wants to shake things up. Disrupt the social impact sector in the city from becoming stagnant by questioning how programs work and if people are doing things just because it’s habit. And most importantly, is the work being done actually helping the city, which can be difficult to think about truly when you feel like you’ve given so much to a specific cause.

It’s kind of the same feeling I get when I question why I am attending college—did I go because I had the means to do so and it was expected of me to follow that particular path (go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, etc.) or did I really want to go? I want to say I did it for the later and I am enjoying and gaining a lot from college, but there’s always a nagging feeling that maybe I did choose to go to college because it was the safest bet.

“Privilege” is an encompassing word that I'll probably keep thinking about in new lenses throughout my life. Right now, I've been thinking that one of the things I have been privileged in is the ability to deviate, to risk my job, this internship, to go out of what is expected of me or choose differently because of the safety net I l am grateful to have that'll help me when I’m down. It’s something my dad did not have, my mom did not have, but something I have grown up. And I do not think I’ve fully embraced it yet.
 

KAETLYN BERNAL - ST. FRANCIS NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER, WEEK 3

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Week one of the St. Francis Neighborhood Center Summer Program began this week—also marking the beginning of the toughest job I would have yet. I never thought about how difficult it would be to teach a class of 18 students (mostly because I never thought I would have to do so). How was I supposed to relate to these 10 year olds? How was I supposed to teach them about their community when I don't even know what it’s like? How strict am I supposed to be with them? What if they don't like me? All of these questions began popping into my head as students arrived early Monday morning. Very quickly, my patience was tested and the week began to feel as though it would never end. Week one of the summer program felt like an eternity and my only sense of relief looked like Thursday at 5pm since the center was closed on Fridays. I began to wonder whether or not this was all worth it—the walk every morning and evening, chasing around kids all day, breaking up fights, wiping away tears, and more. My job didn't stop there as I was also tasked with managing the YouthWorkers at our site. I didn't think this would be very difficult since they are all getting paid for their work this summer—but this proved not to be the case. For most of the YouthWorkers, this was their first job and they had no idea what it meant to be professional. It was difficult for them to understand the importance of showing up to work on time, how to fill out their timesheet, or even how to sign for something. I realized how important it was that I presented myself as their manager but also as a teacher and mentor. Every day since the first has proven to be a learning experience. I had never taught, managed, or supervised anyone and didn't think I would be doing so as a Junior in college. I felt so overwhelmed that I had to remind myself why I was here putting myself through such an intense experience—I was here to make a change in my new community. I had lost sight of this in the craziness of the 9-5 Monday through Thursday work week. All I could think about was the clock striking on Thursday at 5pm—but then I had a very special experience with one of my students. As we went out to the playground nearby, one of my students ran up and grabbed my hand so I could walk with her to the park. She sat with me and talked to me about a lot of the problems she had been having at home. She ended the conversation with, “You are the best teacher ever.” Her embrace preceding that comment made the craziness of the week worth it. I had never taught before and suddenly this young girl saw me as her mentor and role model. It was only week one and I had made a difference in someone’s life for the better. Even though every day is stressful and it may not get easier, the end goal of improving the lives of those around me will continue to motivate me to do the best I can even if I don't really know what I’m doing.