NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT

CHARLOTTE GREEN - MAYOR'S OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION, WEEK 5

"Charlie, how much longer are you staying in the office with us for?" My boss asked me while at sat across from his desk yesterday. I responded that after this week I only had 3 weeks left. He looked shocked, and responded talking about how quickly these 5 weeks have flown by.

I have been thinking about how I only have 3 weeks left a lot today. The theme of this weeks Bites of Baltimore session was making sure that we contribute all we want to the organizations that we are at, and I feel as thought I am successfully working towards this goal.

The office has been busy and although I have been here for almost 5 weeks I still feel like I have not gotten to know my boss as well as I would like. The previous internships I have had through CIIP (At the 29th Street Community Center and the Franciscan Center) had me working directly with my boss every day. Because my boss was out all week, and my position requires me to travel around with other people in the office I feel as though I have not gotten to know my boss as well as I had wished. Building connections are valuable and one of my goals throughout the next 3 weeks is to get to know my boss better.

Another goal of mine throughout this internship was to narrow down my focus for when I graduate college. I now know that I am not very interested in politics, but the marketing and communications aspects of this internship interested me a lot. Getting as much experience in these two areas will allow me to get the most out of my last 3 weeks.

KAETLYN BERNAL - ST. FRANCIS NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER, WEEK 5

Five weeks have passed since I began my time at the St. Francis Neighborhood Center. The first two weeks I spent sitting in front of a computer screen for eight hours at a time, the following three have been spent chasing after kids and attempting to get to know them so that maybe, by the end of this internship, I could relate to them. Maybe, by the end of my time here, I could have a close relationship with at least one of my students to help them in any way I could. Lucky for me, I have been able to create this relationship with a few of my students and I still have three weeks left. As my class sat and listened to a guest presentation, one of my students became very disruptive as he felt the need to talk to his brother—completely disregarding anything else going on around him. After asking him to pay attention several times, it came to the point where my co-teacher made him switch seats away from his brother, to which his response was to cry and run out of the room. I quickly chased after him and was shocked when he turned to me yelling that he couldn't trust me, my co-teacher, his parents, or anyone beside his brother. He informed me that he had promised his brother that he would sit next to him and that he was forced to unfairly break that promise to his brother—since the only people they could trust were each other. This led to conversation about his parents who were getting a divorce and after a half hour conversation he regained trust in me as I was able to relate and restore his faith in those who love him. I realized after this how much I truly love and care about every single one of my students. Every moment with my students, big or small, is something I cherish and will immediately miss after this is over. I feel blessed that I was able to meet my goals before the end of my internship because now I know I can do it again. The rush of hugs when I walk into a room, the bracelet given to me by my most troublesome student, and the conversations I have every day with my kids is all just another sign that I can and will continue to make a difference.

PRANATHI GANNI - BALTIMORE CORPS, WEEK 5

I take the circulator to Federal Hill for Baltimore Corps’ office, a house located right beside the prominent hill. Throughout the day, staff members come and go, talking to community members and mostly working on their Mac laptops. If not in the office, members work in coffee shops in the city.

The organization was approached by a nonprofit study group who wanted to document the success Baltimore Corps as had as a 501(c)(3). One of the staff members mentioned their unease because the organization does not go out and “get their hands dirty” doing work for the city. And to be honest, that’s been similar to my concern. However, another team member told me how that success does come in different forms. And when people think of nonprofit work, they think of that hands-on image. But that should not demean the success of an organization that works with members sweating over their laptops and advocating for the city through emails and phone calls and professional meetings set in coffee shops. As cities become more and more modern, it is a practical answer to use technology to be more efficient in working for the city.

I read an essay once about community service and whether or not it is in someway selfish, that we help people because it helps us. And I think we when we volunteer, we desire to do a lot of hands-on things because it's tangible—it's easier to see, to grasp, to believe you are doing good. And so yeah, it is a bit selfish but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it's why doing work via technology does not seem as great—there's less of that tangibleness that makes you feel good about what you're doing—although this should not demean work that is uses a more unconventional approach.