VICTORIA CHEN - CHASE BREXTON, WEEK 4
What do we talk about when we talk about race? Race is so much more than just the color of your skin or the origin of your ancestors. It carries deeply-rooted prejudices, whether good or bad, and invokes connotations in everyone. Though I have long been familiar with the idea of race and racial discrimination, I have never truly experienced living in a racialized society until I moved to America for college. Growing up in China, one of the most homogenous countries in the world where 90% of it's population is one ethnicity, was a drastically different experience. You didn't hear about racialized police brutality, or PhDs who were followed around in the store just because they happened to be Black. So being here, in Baltimore specifically, has opened my eyes to a whole new, and cruel, world.
I wish I knew the answer to unpack America's systematically-ingrained, racialized society. I wish I knew how to stop these unjustifiable deaths of Black men at the hands of the very people who are supposed to protect us--but from whom other than ourselves? I wish we could just get over ourselves, and see that the people around us are our brothers, our sisters, our friends.
I once heard an activist analogize shouting "All Lives Matter" at a Black Lives Matter rally with shouting "All Cancers Matter" at a Breast Cancer walk. Of course all lives matters--but we already knew that, or so I thought. The fact that people feel the need to actively proclaim their "Lives Matter" is a testament of their invisibility in society, masked by the looming shadows of racial inequities.
All of this is to say that I was harboring a lot of emotions and thoughts racing through my mind as I listened to Makayla Gilliam-Price and Joe Manko talk about their handprints in the movement towards equality. Though I still haven't processed everything from this past week's events, I know that I will continue into the rest of my internship challenging myself to grow.
LUCINDA CHIU - JOY WELLNESS CENTER, WEEK 4
This week I felt out of place.
At the clinic, the past two weeks have been relatively slow. The other volunteers and I complete the daily to-do list before noon. I spend the rest of my time finding anything around the clinic I can help with, and occasionally ask my supervisor for suggested tasks. At times, however, I felt that my presence was a greater burden on the center than it was helpful, simply because I wasn't actively engaging with the community I came here to assist.
On Tuesday this week, however, I got the opportunity to conduct a wellness orientation (WO) for a patient. At the Joy Wellness Center we offer private appointments, such as private massage, acupuncture, cranio sacral massage, and reflexology, to our patients, which they can participate in only after completing our WO. As I went through the introductory script and information with him, he seemed to nod at everything I said, but his eyes had a blank look. Once we got to the client data sheet, I asked him to fill out the forms with some basic personal information about his health. He panicked, and quickly gave the form back to me, requesting that I read the questions and write his responses for him. Before this experience, I had never encountered the difficulties of attempting to communicate across a language barrier. Though I used different hand gestures and my high school knowledge of French, when he left, I honestly am not sure how much of our conversation he understood and how much he just nodded along to.
Then, at our mid-point assembly this evening, when Makayla finished speaking and we were encouraged to ask questions, I struggled to formulate an inquiry. With the number of deaths that have occurred the past 48 hours, I feel unsure how to participate in the conversation. As an Asian-American, I cannot say that I truly understand the difficulties members of the African-American community are experiencing. Thus, I feel uncomfortable questioning and speaking about topics I do not have the expertise or authority to make statements about.
I realize, though, that my silence may be a part of the problem at hand. Throughout the rest of the summer, I want to learn more to increase my knowledge of the issue first. I am intent on listening to the opinions and experiences of members in our patient community, CIIP cohort, and other community individuals. Maybe then I can eventually find my voice and place within these uncomfortable and turbulent situations.
JOYCE LIN - CHASE BREXTON, WEEK 4
With a slow start at the beginning of my internship at Chase Brexton, I feel like things are finally picking up. I was able to branch out from addressing letters and stuffing envelopes and was put to work creating a social media survey which I am oh so grateful for. This week Ken stepped in a little more and assigned me to more tasks and projects which I am excited about. It feels great to do a greater variety of work- the envelopes were getting a little old. Also, with Pride just around the corner, the office has kind of shifted gears to focus more on event planning which I have been able to listen in on a little bit which is really cool.
Overall this week has been a major improvement as I've been kept busy with a variety of small tasks. I still look forward to potentially having a longer term project or being able to participate in more clinical settings, however this week is much better than the last. I'm also really looking forward to do my CTR training july 18th so that I can actually perform HIV tests at Chase Brexton!
VIJAY RAMASAMY - STAR TRACK, WEEK 4
Excitement. Fear. Nervousness.
These are probably the three words I would use to describe my feelings right now as I really begin to dig into the projects we have been planning for the past couple of weeks.
I am excited for what these projects can be, and for the benefit they can potentially bring to communities if done well.
I am fearful of failure, knowing full and well that empty promises and failed ideas are the breeding ground for mistrust and stagnation.
I am nervous, mostly because I have never before lead the planning of a large community event, written grants, or even engaged in outreach of this size.
As I embark on the next couple of weeks there will be a lot of learning, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of support needed. However, I am confident that along side the incredible communities we are blessed to work with every single day, we will be able to really create something special.
This week itself has also been so inspiring, with speeches by Joe Manko and Makayla Gilliam-Price, two amazing individuals creating change in Baltimore. They illustrated so beautifully the triumph of the human spirit in the face of incredible odds and forces, showing us the power to empower progress that often lies dormant in all of us.
I am ready to work hard, make errors, learn, grow, and truly make the impact that I came into this experience wanting to make.
Time to get it done.