2018 Orientation: Education

picture of Smitha Mahesh CIIPSMITHA MAHESH | CHILD FIRST AUTHORITY

Wow! Time flew so quick but orientation was jammed packed with fun and exciting experiences! The highlight of orientation would be facing my fears and challenges, meeting new people and befriending the CIIP community, and learning more about myself in regards to my values and beliefs.

It must be said that I truly enjoyed Reverend Brown’s talk, it was inspiring! Furthermore, I felt most moved by State Delegate Nick Mosby’s speech. His inspiring story of determination and chasing his passions of engaging in public service—despite being an excellent electrical engineer—gave me purpose and motivation to not give up on my passions on advocating for social justice and improving the health of the community.

In regards to my passions, I realized that ambitions and dreams have origins from one’s identity. The beginning part of the TAG workshop allowed me to loosen up, meet my peers, and delve into deep discussions about gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, class, age, etc. At first the workshop made me nervous because I had to step out of my comfort zone and face my inner core values. However, I slowly started opening up to my peers and we were able to discuss deep philosophical moral questions without judgment. I learned that an individuals’ values of a topic is deeply rooted in their experiences and thus one can never judge an individual of their beliefs without understanding their experience. The TAG workshop also showed me how my identity motivates me to pursue something and challenge the fears within myself.

On a different note, I was super impressed and excited about the various local eateries presented at the orientation. I will definitely visit Wild Thyme again! Furthermore, I found the scavenger hunt to be a blast! It was so fun exploring Baltimore, public transportation, and Baltimorean culture with my peer mentor group. Go Ed Ed and Education!

Now that orientation has ended, I am confident to say I learned a lot about myself, my community, and my responsibilities with this exciting internship. I like to tell people I am nervously-excited about this internship. I am nervous to face the unknown and confront my fears and challenges, but I am excited to meet new people, learn new skills, and find inspiration from the heart of my city.

 

picture of Lauren Fink CIIPLAUREN FINK | THE INTERSECTION

This orientation week was incredibly well planned, and I have already formed lasting relationships with other members. Because of my history as a youth organizer in Baltimore City, I knew a lot of the information presented, and I had a unique experience during orientation. I tried to serve as a resource for my peers learning a lot of this information for the first time, and I hope that I was helpful in some ways. For me, the most worthwhile part of the past week was bonding with likeminded Hopkins students, which can be very difficult to find. I especially appreciated the attempts to acknowledge the problematic nature of Hopkins in Baltimore, as well as the problem of white saviorism in public service. During the scavenger hunt, which was a very cute activity, there were many efforts made to decrease the discomfort of community members with many Hopkins students in the neighborhoods, which was a step in the right direction when compared to the President’s Day of Service, for example. Overall, I am pleased with the CIIP program so far, and am excited to start working!

 

picture of Michelle Abt CIIPMICHELLE ABT | SQUASHWISE

CIIP orientation this past week pushed my thinking and expanded my knowledge of the Baltimore community and the spaces to work within it. I felt as though we developed skills and tools to increase our activeness in the Baltimore community, to face the challenges presented when working in the non-profit sphere, and how to critically think about, and challenge, the accepted practices of the systems in place.

Becoming an active member within a city community starts with knowing the city and community. I appreciated the effort to make sure we were informed about all the events and resources to pursue this summer. Through the presentation by the peer mentors about things to do in Baltimore, spending the day out in the city on Wednesday, and the time spent teaching us all how to use public transit effectively, we are now equipt to attend and participate in the community bonding aspects of the city. Furthermore, thanks to Kim Trueheart and various government representatives, we learned about more about the political and advocacy side of being a citizen. Kim Trueheart, using her own practices as an example, taught us how to attend meetings at city hall and use her voice as a community member.

Increasing activism in the city, and pursuing work within the non-profit sector can accidentally lead to burn out or poor mental health. Another element of orientation prepared us for that, and was designed to provide us techniques for self-care. This proactive approach to prepare for this type of work seems highly effective and I feel as though I know where the resources are for challenges faced this summer.

On the first day, Reverend Dr. Heber Brown III spoke to us about challenging the system and thinking about upstream solutions using transformative action. His “soup kitchen analogy” pushed me to consider the reasoning for most of our placement sites, and has set up a framework for me to critically think about my experience this summer. Additionally, the city and state representatives provided insight about the policy realm for systematic change. Overall, I felt as though the CIIP orientation prepared us for all aspects of working within the non-profit sector in the city of Baltimore this summer.

 

picture of Soyun Kim CIIPSOYUN KIM | CODE IN THE SCHOOLS

I finished my internship with CIIP last summer having learned more about Baltimore and the Baltimore community than I would have ever been able to experience in a classroom setting. However, I also left with a sense of vague criticism that I was not able to articulate until this orientation. I find it extremely easy to fall into a sense of false moral authority when working on social justice issues; and because of this, it is easy to react to differing opinions with hostility and antagonism. I also feel like this sense of moral authority contributes to the “savior complex” that is often a large issue in community service and non-profit work. This is why I found this orientation’s constant theme of practicing humility and listening to be so meaningful and compelling.

No matter how much we think we know about Baltimore and the issues that this community faces, we will always lack a perspective or someone’s story. And it was incredibly comforting to hear from community members that we are not expected to know everything, but rather expected to listen and learn from the diverse community we will immerse ourselves in this summer. I am looking forward to listening and reflecting on all the new stories and perspectives everyone will gain this summer!

 

picture of Laetitia ZhangLAETITIA ZHANG | LIBERTY ELEMENTARY

It’s hard to believe that orientation has already come to an end. This week, we had a wide variety of opportunities to hear from our community partners, bond with our fellow CIIP interns, and enjoy some fantastic local food. Here are just a few highlights: “It is an honor to listen to the sacredness of other people’s stories.” If there were to be a single takeaway from orientation, it would be humility. Reverend Heber Brown set the tone for our internship program by encouraging us to think critically about how we engage in service. Who are we, the “do-gooders,” listening to? He encouraged us to consider whether we were addressing the concerns voiced by community members. In our acts of service, are we targeting the root causes of inequality? He brought up the concept of subversive service, or engaging in service that is disruptive and does not simply “make prisons more comfortable.” These are questions that will guide my work this summer at Liberty Elementary as I begin to engage with the existing education system in Baltimore City. In preparation for this internship, I was slightly concerned about trying to navigate public transportation. While I have been able to get by thus far using the JHMI shuttle, the Charm City Circulator, and the occasional Lyft, I will need to take several MTA buses to reach Liberty Elementary, located in Northwest Baltimore. During our mid-week Baltimore scavenger hunt, we had the chance to use public transportation to explore iconic sites around Baltimore, including Federal Hill, Mr. Trash Wheel, Lexington Market, and the Avenue Bakery. While our trip did not have the most promising start (we accidentally got on a bus headed to Morgan State), we became more adept at finding the right MTA buses throughout the day and took the subway once as well (which, I’m slightly embarrassed to say, I was not aware existed). I was excited to see that some of the community partners with whom I will be working closely (Mr. Joseph Manko and Ms. Kim Truehart) made an appearance during orientation. They shared valuable insight on building authentic relationships and becoming active citizens, and I hope to pick up more of their words of wisdom throughout this summer. Orientation was a great learning experience, but needless to say, I am eager to start working at Liberty Elementary on Monday!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,