2021 Orientation: Nonprofit Management


This past week of Orientation, I found myself reflecting often on relationship ecosystems, particularly around the following set of questions: how do you show up for your community? How do you show up for those sharing space with you? How do you show up for yourself in your community? In what ways? Working actively and learning alongside my peers this week has brought into focus some incipient thoughts I had around relationship-formation, as well as the implications these relations have on a larger scale. I believe it imperative to focus on building networks of relations in how we view civic action, civic wealth-building, and progress within our communities. To relate to someone — in any means — is to at some level recognize them, and I believe there’s a distinct, transformative power to be found within that.

In a conversation with a peer during the Theater Action Group (TAG) training, we spoke primarily about 1) who the people we felt the closest with were after the past year and 2) what our priorities in relationships are. One comment my peer made had to do with reciprocation and how they came to realize whether or not the people in their life were doing so. Of course, all of this was on a strictly personal level but it does have a great deal to do with the work I’ll be doing this summer at Impact Hub. Relationships permeate the institutions and spaces in which we work and live. How do these relationships come to permeate the city? What is the ebb and flow of these relationships?

For instance, Hopkins is a microcosm within the city certainly; CIIP is an even smaller circle within that sphere. Yet, relationships and connections through association prevail; a fellow CIIP-er even agreed that there seemed to be only a one degree of separation between us all, and our group is diverse. In this manner, there is a whole wealth of relationships and linkages between community members that remain covert. If we were able to unearth and render explicit these connections, and then bring together those with common visions and missions, what impact would that reassortment have? The potential of mutual strengthening, or reciprocation, is built within these common, implicit, and hidden associations.

Orientation has helped frame and develop my pre-existing thoughts about relationship building in the city. I’m eager to start working at Impact Hub and developing a working understanding of how relationships come to be formed and reinforced through collaborative spaces as well as what good work can arise from those moments of recognition.


Something that really challenged me about orientation was the social aspect, mostly because of the virtual format. At the very beginning I was standoffish, and I didn’t really feel like a member of the group. Then I began to open up a little more and let myself get comfortable with people. I would message more in the chat, talk more in breakout groups or with my peer mentor, and speak up more during the sessions. The digital platform really did my head in though with my own self-doubt and self-consciousness around meeting new people. When I’m in person, it’s easier to gauge how much space I’m taking up and how other people are reacting to me. I can also engage with other’s without having to be the center of attention. But over Zoom, I was constantly anxious about whether I was messaging or speaking too much or too little, if people were annoyed by me, if they liked me, etc. I wanted to engage with people but Zoom only allows for one conversation to be happening at a time, side conversations aren’t possible. In order to put yourself out there, you have to be the only one speaking and I’m often not comfortable with this. Overall, I’m looking forward to being able to bond with the CIIP group in-person as much as is possible, because I don’t want to lose out on this community bonding experience due to the limitations of digital interaction.


This week of Orientation broadened my understanding and perspective of Baltimore city, allowed me to step out of my shell, and embrace discomfort with a group of incredible students and mentors who have incredibly inspiring stories. Orientation permitted me to learn more about the history of Johns Hopkins as an institution within the Baltimore community and intensified my interest to give back to this city, which has given me so many opportunities of personal and professional growth.

As an international student, my ideas in respect to race and ethnicity were challenged by the guest speakers, allowing me to grasp the concept of cultural humility in a better way. This was incredibly important, as it prepares me to generate opinions and participate in discussions about identity within the United States. I was also challenged this week when participating in activities out of my comfort zone, such as performance arts. I have always struggled with opening up and expressing my emotions to others, especially those that I do not know very well. This week, I was able to overcome my fears and connect with my peers by talking about difficulties I’ve faced in the past year and things I want to work on in the future. Additionally, I became comfortable using other outlets for my emotions, such as dancing, and acting. Being able to show my true self, was most definitely one of the highlights of the week and one of the reasons why I am so excited to further interact with my CIIP peers.

After a year and a half of virtual learning, I missed human interaction and meeting new people. Despite the fact that Orientation occurred through Zoom, I could feel the warmth of others. The environment was so inviting, that it felt as if we were in the same room. Overall, Orientation Week gave me a taste of what is to come this summer: expanding my perspectives, learning from others, falling more in love with Baltimore City, making long-lasting connections, and believing more in myself.


There were so many parts of orientation that I enjoyed, but I especially appreciated the workshops and activities that forced me to struggle with and reflect on my privilege. I am privileged in many aspects of my identity, and I’ve had countless opportunities in my life that others have not, and this undeserved privilege is something I struggle to reconcile. Furthermore, the thing about privilege is that it’s invisible; I do try to be aware of my privilege and positionality, but the reality is that in my daily life, I’m not confronted with my privilege and forced to reflect upon it. This is why I appreciated so many of the workshops throughout orientation; it was a much-needed reminder that the privilege I carry with my into every space I enter is something that requires constant awareness and reflection.

One specific session of orientation that I really appreciated was the workshop on cultural humility. The term “cultural humility” was new to me, but I really love it. The use of the word “humility” communicates that being culturally competent is about being humble and recognizing that your experience is not universal, and that there is so much that you don’t know. My first grasp on cultural competence was this idea of “understanding that you don’t understand,” and I think that the term “cultural humility” encapsulates this well. I’m really grateful to have attended this workshop because the idea of cultural humility is very grounding and seems like a good mindset to have as we begin our internships.

The other aspect of orientation that I loved was the workshops on Baltimore history and the history of the relations between Baltimore and Johns Hopkins institutions. A huge part of being aware of my privilege and approaching community-based work in Baltimore with cultural humility is being aware of the city’s history. Knowing some of this history helps me understand how I might be perceived approaching Baltimore communities as a Hopkins student.

Overall, I’m coming out of orientation feeling grounded, reflective, and ready to begin my internship!


Orientation was quite difficult for me; I wasn’t as quick to get comfortable being more vulnerable and open as other people were. I’m not usually one to enjoy the more creative teambuilding activities, so it was hard to push myself through some of the orientation days. I struggled to stay engaged, but overall, it went fine, and I learned some things too. I enjoyed the presentations the most. The presentation about Hopkins and its relationship to Baltimore was great, as was the presentation by Lane Victorson. The scavenger hunt was especially fun, and I was surprised that there were so many notable locations that I didn’t know about already. That activity was also very useful because it helped us think about public transportation throughout the city and how to navigate it.


My favorite part of orientation was the TAG workshop. They always do a great job, but they really nailed it this time in particular–I’ve never seen a zoom facilitation session that kept people so engaged and pushed them to reflect deeply in such a short span of time. Color me impressed! My personal favorite exercise that we did in the session was the “I can tell you about” exercise in the breakout rooms, where we alternated sharing challenges with the person with whom we’d been paired, essentially telling them all the frustrations and insecurities and struggles from the last year “[we] could tell [them]” about. To be honest, I was kind of worried about the exercise at first. I’m normally a pretty reserved person, and while I wouldn’t say I’m quiet around new people, it takes a long time before I feel like I can open up and be vulnerable around them. It was kind of scary to go into a space where you essentially had to be vulnerable right away with a total stranger because you weren’t allowed any other words to hide behind or cover up your insecurities with.

What surprised me, then, was how connected I felt to the other person in the breakout room by the end of the session, and how quickly that connection formed during the session. The room just had this feeling of total vulnerability, acceptance, and desire for understanding of the other person’s experience. Right before we left the breakout room, we told each other how scared we’d been going into the exercise, but during the exercise, we felt comfortable and safe and accepted. We ended up sharing some very personal feelings, emotions, and vulnerabilities. It was liberating, honestly: to show who you are with no pretenses. I want to carry over that feeling going forward and become more comfortable showing myself to the world.

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