2019 Week 4: Education & Youth Advocacy
We had our first two “make or break” days of the summer this week. The first came when we got our group of 25 YouthWorkers on Monday, and it went significantly better than I expected. This is 100% because my co-workers are the greatest humans to have ever walked the planet. It was amazing to watch the connection my supervisor was able to build with the students even from the very beginning. Beyond her personal connections, Dana is able to foster an environment that allows students to be their genuine self and trust one another in the space. The students came in pretty rambunctious (as one would assume for rising 10th graders). It only took her about an hour or so to have the students establish group norms, which I have never seen implemented into a high school setting. Shortly after, they began self-correcting within the group in accordance with the norms. This also allowed for a safe space that lead to pretty heavy discussions that each of the students were able to grow from. None of this would have been possible if Dana didn’t have charisma and personality that allows her to stay friendly yet firm. She never once yells at anyone, and she is constantly telling the students how much she cares about them and their success. This might come off a little corny at first, but her personality is so genuine that I think the students truly start to feel it even on the first day.
The second make or break day was Wednesday. Our students who have been a part of the Intersection for at least one school year are giving workshops to different youth organizations in southeast Baltimore, and our first one was Wednesday. Let me tell you it was a roller coaster. The day started off with us running late because there was a mix up with the supervisors, and I had to drop off materials to different sites. After starting late, my group started off slow because they were a little flustered. This was also the first time they presented to a relatively large group, so there were a decent amount of nerves flowing. I had to help them a few times (nothing major), and it definitely looked disorganized. However, we took 30 minutes during lunch and began to regroup. I reassured the students on just how amazing they are (because it’s true), and we talked about some of the struggles of the first half. We discussed some simple changes that would allow them to engage more with the other youth, and they were very open to the suggestions. I could not have been happier with how they adapted after that. The second half of the presentation was INCREDIBLE. My students got into their element and were able to facilitate as well as I could have hoped to do myself. The entire group became engaged with the presentation, and I think the youth got a lot from it. I was so proud I can’t even explain it. And yes, I definitely cried when I finally got home.
This week I am thankful for the example that Dana sets for the kids and for me. I am able to use so many of the things I have seen her do when it comes to facilitating, and it has made me a better leader overall.
This week, I started my new project at my site working on compiling data from this last school year on attendance. While creating our new spreadsheets I got the chance to read notes about each chronically absent student as I entered them into the different rows and columns. It was really interesting to look at the different yet similar reasons for students absences and it made me truly reflect on my privilege growing up. I got a glimpse into the students’ life and their challenges which made me wonder about the ways we can help. Even though we cannot change everything in the students’ lives, I think that the efforts I’ve gotten to know more about with the school are a step in the right direction.
On another topic, during this week after our midpoint event I took a walk with one of my CIIP mentor group members. As we walked around we had conversations about our work at our sites and the midpoint event. When we were walking by the stores on St. Paul, there was a man who was experiencing homelessness sitting with his bag. I was surprised because she started talking about with the man about the books they spoke about the last time they talked. At the end of their conversation, she told him that the next time they meet she can bring him some books from home. This was interesting to me because all my interactions with strangers that walk by me are nonexistent and I tend to be in my own world but she took the time to have full conversations with the man, even though most would avoid him because of his status in society. This encourages me to be more thoughtful in my interactions because there is so much you can learn by stopping for a moment to briefly chat with a new person.Tags: Child First Authority, CIIP, ciip 2019, City Springs Elementary/Middle School, MERIT, The Intersection