KAETLYN BERNAL - ST. FRANCIS NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER, WEEK 4
Monday morning was the true test of my skills. My co-teacher had a job interview that morning and I was left alone to teach the class about community. Within just a few minutes of my hour long lesson, I went from being the “best teacher ever” the previous week to the “meanest teacher on the planet.” I was a little discouraged but realized I couldn't let that one silly comment get me down. My co-teacher arrived midway through the lesson and let me continue until the end. She raved to me about how impressed she was and how I was able to take command even though it was my first time teaching alone. I was relieved as those words spewed out of her mouth because of the comment that had been made before she showed up but I quickly became nervous again. She insisted that I continue with the lesson about community at the end of the week since she was so impressed by my ability this time around. I nervously accepted the challenge and began planning the next part of my lesson. As I planned, my research about the Reservoir Hill Community uncovered that just down the street from our center, a senior citizen apartment building had to displace three families after a fire the night before. With a heavy heart, I included this in the lesson for my students. As we began talking about the specific occurrences in our community one of my students asked me, “Who do you call when the police are shooting people?” I was stuck, shocked, nervous, unsure, and embarrassed that I could not answer this student’s question. However, what was I supposed to say? This moment resonated with me and became even more painful to think about later that night at our weekly gathering for the Community Impact Internships Program. The guest lecturers spoke about this very matter and even though they had more expertise in the field, also could not answer the question. This made me begin to think about how so many of us have all of these questions about why our community is the way it is but have no where to ask them—mostly because it seems like a silly question to those who can actually affect change. I felt like my student in that moment, written off and wronged because I didn't get my way (my way being justice and equality for all). With this experience, I have decided to become more vocal about my thoughts, questions, and concerns even though they may not directly affect me because every human voice has power behind it no matter how old you may be.
PRANATHI GANI - BALTIMORE CORPS, WEEK 4
It was something I didn’t expect, but this summer as taken me around Baltimore’s coffee shops—to 3 Bean Coffee, Red Emma’s, Maria D’s, Koba Café, Charmington’s, and more. I didn’t expect this but I guess working at a professional-styled 501(c)(3) organization does come with a challenge of being disconnected. It requires making sure you know what you’re doing and if it is important.
When I asked what Baltimore Corps’ future vision is, I did not get a specific response like I expected. It could be possible that its matchmaking service between fellows and VCLs, or people and social impact organizations, could be a model implemented in other cities. However, since Baltimore Corps is specific to Baltimore, how can another city take ownership of the program? And will there be a time when the city does not need a program like Baltimore Corps? The program seems to have been made with the now in mind, which has it’s own set of pro’s and con’s. The organization requires feeling connected to the city and its communities, which does mean taking the time to get away from the professional setting.