2017 Week Five: Youth & Family Wellness

picture of Mariana Rincon Caicedo CIIPMARIANA RINCON CAICEDO | BALTIMORE SQUASHWISE

I am not an American citizen. And for a long time, I’ve hidden behind that identity as a way to excuse my ignorance of certain aspects of American culture that I’ve not been exposed to, as I was raised in another country. This week, for instance, I was surprised by how little I knew about American history, when I was preparing a lesson about citizenship for the kids in the summer camp I’m interning at. I had to do a fair amount of research in order to put together a semi-coherent lesson, and to look knowledgeable in a subject that I have very little knowledge of.
My other lesson was about how to be an engaged citizen in today’s time and age and the first thing I wrote was “stay informed”. How could I tell the kids to stay informed about what’s going on in the world when I myself didn’t know a lot about the country that I’ve been living in for two years? The hypocrisy of my lessons struck me as I completed my research for both of my lessons. Despite the fact that I don’t enjoy a lot of the privileges that American citizens have and that I have had quite a different upbringing and education than people who have lived in the US all their lives, I realized that being from a different country is not an excuse to remain ignorant or apathetic to the history and the struggles of the country I’m currently living in.
I’ll be living here for at least another year, and it is my duty to know about the place I’m residing in. I don’t know if I’m going to stay here after I graduate, or if my career path will take me to the other side of the world. But right now I know that while I’m not a legal citizen here, this country has become in a way a home away from home and in order to be the best possible student, intern, and human being here, I need to follow my own advice and get to know the history and the current situation of this country. That way, perhaps I will be a little bit more prepared to serve this country as best as I can for as long as I’m here.

picture of Awoenam Maunya-Woanya CIIPAWOENAM MAUNA-WOANYA | BLACK CHURCH FOOD SECURITY NETWORK, ORITA’S CROSS FREEDOM SCHOOL

Adventure of the week: Taking a road trip with Rev. Brown to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware.

Rating: 10/10

My week started on Monday preparing for a mini-conference with Rev. Brown on Tuesday. I studied up on the needs assessment for black farmers of the Delmarva (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia) peninsula. This on its own was eye-opening enough to change the course of my week as I learned about the struggles of black farmers and began forming some of my own questions. One question for example: even though the population of black farmers has declined exponentially of the last century, On Tuesday, we headed down to Easton where we met with board members of NESAWG (Northeastern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) and other Ag (cool nickname for agriculture apparently) groups. There, we had a roundtable discussion about the state of Ag on the Eastern Shore primarily by comparing it Ag in New England states since we are comparable areas with similar populations. This discussion was incredible to witness because as an engineering college student, they brought up very real problems that never crossed my mind. Right after the first comment was made, I wanted to jump in the discussion myself, however I became timid as I felt I didn’t know as much as these professionals. The conversation passed and I wrote down all my thoughts and responses and I was really enjoying myself. The perspective is very different because sometimes in school, we talk about other world problems, but ultimately end with us not knowing what can be down and concluding nothing can be done. In this case though, these professionals actually had the power to make a difference and weren’t afraid to grill each other to come up with a solution. That is how stuff gets done.

The following day we had the opportunity to tour Fifer’s Orchard- and orchard in Delaware. While my interest in ag (am I cool now?) remains just that, an interest, I was piqued by the inner workings of this orchard and how they’ve been able to sustain their business for about a hundred years. While their case is unique, they are a sort of goal that the network is striving for on a more urban scale.

One of my favorite parts of this little adventure was spending the time with Rev. Brown, getting to know him personally and at the end of the trip, welcoming him into my home and introducing him to my family. I am so grateful to have been paired with him for this summer, because he has become a sort of role model to me and more importantly, a friend. While we are past the halfway point in this program, I am not too worried because I know I am going to stay in touch and do my best to continue this good work with these great folk.

Signing off,
Awoe

picture of Paulina Parsons CIIPPAULINA PARSONS | RUTH M. KIRK REC CENTER

The week started out tough on Monday! I was not sure I was going to get through the first day to be honest. But the next day after talking to Squeaky and beginning to work on parts of the rec that I really wanted to start getting to the week started to be awesome. While still doing my weekly duties that I have been doing I was able to craft fundraising letters and speak with the people who manage our donations which was very helpful to my understanding on how the center works. It definitely made me feel like I was bringing my skills to the center and I hope that this next week I can amp up the fundraising and really make an impact. I am excited looking and looking forward to this week. That being said it is difficult to manage doing two things at once and still catering to the children while I work on fundraising so I hope I can more successfully manage both of them at the same time. On Friday when I left I felt this sense of wanting to linger. I realized that I will miss this center so much when my internship is over and I hope I can come back in the fall. The rec staff and children have become a little actually big family to me that I deeply care about. I can see all of these kids reaching great heights if they keep up what they have been doing this summer. Also, now that there is also an older group of children at the center it is fun befriending them. It was not too long ago that I was 12 to be honest so hearing their conversations and what they are going through is incredibly interesting and I love to just engage with them and see where they are at. I hope to be a role model and a friend at the same time. Balancing that will probably be difficult, but I think I can do it! Looking forward to the next few weeks!

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