At the end of the workday, I sit in the guitar room upstairs while the four YWers I supervise eat dinner and vent to myself and to one another.

"Ms. Sophie, so many people are having babies."
"Do you mean people our age?"
"Yeah. They're gonna regret it though."

I thought that conversation from this past week was particularly memorable-because I don't know anyone who's had a teenage pregnancy. It's obviously pretty common. But the topic caught me so completely off guard that I wasn't in a position to really say anything but just laugh and nod. And this was coming from one of my coworkers who, at first, I firmly believed held a grudge against me--She's ended up surprising me by bringing up some pretty unexpected topics and including me in the conversation. I really appreciate that the Youth Workers come to me for advice about friendships and personal issues. When that happens, I feel as though I give pretty sound advice rooted in my own experiences.

A good majority of the time, however, I don't feel like I have very much to contribute to the conversation--I mean, I really shouldn't paying too much attention to their gossip... Yet listening to what the Youth Workers have to say has become one of the most important lessons that I've been learning this summer. I am slowly learning to step back and just listen when a response doesn't come to me naturally in situations where I think I'd want to say something. I was conflicted during a particular moment this past week. There's a lot of discussion around being light-skinned vs. dark-skinned between my coworkers. This week, M. said (referring to a friend from school) "that guy is black as midnight...if I were that dark I would be depressed." I noticed as another YWer and close friend of M. grew quiet. I didn't know how to react or if to say anything in the moment. All I said was, "that's really not ok to say, M." But to be honest, I was conflicted about responding at all. I was surrounded by the conversation but I didn't feel like it my place to say anything. That's an important issue to talk about, but in the moment, I didn't feel like I was articulate enough to say why.

If I could just learn one thing from this summer it would be acquiring a greater ability to absorb, listen and use my best judgement to know if a situation requires an outside voice.


Painting in the hot sun every day has been pretty physically taxing this past week or so. To help cope, I’ve been listening to a podcast about the First World War while I work (we have an open policy on auxiliary audio while we’re painting). Harrowing tales from Verdun, the Somme, and Third Ypres – complete with their fair share of mud, blood, and lice – make working in the soupy Baltimore humidity seem all the more palatable by comparison. It smells really bad on garbage day, but at least it’s not phosgene gas.

Comparing my recent history fix to my internship is a bit of a stretch, but it’s been genuinely helpful as I strategize about heading into our third and final week of painting. Just like the war in 1915/16, the mural project has felt like it could go either way this past week; the scope of our mural is unprecedented for Jubilee Arts, and attrition has been taking its toll on our team. For the first week or so of the painting grind, our tunnel vision led us to manage our team ineffectively in some ways; we needed a change in tactics. On Wednesday, we met to come up with potential solutions – new disciplinary approaches to some insubordination we’ve been experiencing with one of the youth workers, better ways to allocate time and labor, fresh groups to keep the kids on task.

Thursday, everything seemed to click for our team, and we had our most productive day yet. Next week, we’ll be getting some fresh reinforcements from another mural team that finished their mural already. Analogous to America’s entry into the Great War, I’m confident that some fresh help can turn the tide and push our engagement to completion. That said, a larger, less cohesive team will require more oversight, and I expect to spend less time painting and more time managing others this next week. Now onward, to victory!


"Camera rolling?
Audio rolling?
Young voices direct the action behind me as I write this. They are one of four groups of middle school girls working to complete a video to showcase the robot they have created. The teachers are rotating this week, which is helpful to me as this internship is winding down.
I honestly did not realize how close we are to the end of the summer, and I have projects that I'm working on here that need to be done before it ends. One is a simplified social media guide that explains how to go about sharing information on sites since the current guide is a bit out of date. I still have to finish this.
I have learned so much while interning here and have been able to so much more than i had expected coming in this summer, that for the next bit I think I'm going to just focus on wrapping up what was started.