2021 Week 4: Virtual Internships

HUIYAO CHEN | BALTIMORE JOB HUNTERS SUPPORT GROUP

Reaching the midpoint of the internship, I have also been arriving at some milestones in my internship. The research guide is still under revision while close to the end as I am adding more new resources to the guide. I have also finished working on completing our list of potential sponsorship contact to reach out to in the future. And we have also been starting to send out birthday cards!

What I would like to give special attention and reflection on in this week’s blog is actually the bite session we had on Friday. For the 1-hour bite session, we learned and talked about the arts in Baltimore (specifically, murals and graffiti). I was lucky to have had the chance to appreciate them at Station North during Orientation in freshman year, as well as when I go around Baltimore occasionally. The topic we hit on today, however, has been a particularly new perspective that I haven’t had a chance to openly talk about or thoroughly think about before: problems and issues like gentrification that accompany this beautification process. What we discussed today brought me back to two weeks ago when in the Wednesday bite session breakout room Michael and I were talking about how emphasizing “the large picture” too much makes it easy for people to miss and overlook the urgently in need individuals under the “big picture”. The giant beautiful paintings seem to in a way resemble the “big pictures”: they are there oftentimes with an intention to convey something or cover something with the community and align the vibe with an intended one, while the reality is, people (especially residents of the neighborhood) are much more sensitive to the superficiality and deficiency of such works in terms of the works’ use and intention; are these merely a coverup? Would issues that are ongoing with the neighborhood be resolved or attended to through a wall of colors?

Going one step further from what we talked about in our bite session today, I would also like to rethink and bring up questions that I have been having regarding the role of art in community building/rebuilding and bonding: As Yvette said, arts are good. But how “good” is it indeed when it comes to resolving community issues? Would we need/have there been any scientific/evidence-based support for the effectiveness of art in making a change? If it works, how do we do our advocacy and community communication to incorporate this into the field and gain people’s acceptance? And like the example Bentley gave on “trash cleaning vs. art”, how do we figure out a priority hierarchy of what we would like to allocate our limited resource towards first/the most? And would art, while being enjoyable and beautiful, distract us from exploring, exposing, and addressing the underlying systematic and institutional issues that impact a community?

CIONNE GATES | BY PEACEFUL MEANS

As expected, this week was one of the best weeks for the summer experience so far! We officially started programming for the kids virtually and it went much better than expected. During CIIP orientation, I remembered my goals surrounded around the children, ensuring they have an insightful learning experience in addition to having motivation to make a difference in their respective communities. Also, I wanted to have one moment where I was able to make the kids laugh, and I accomplished that during the first week, with their help of course. Since I am working with the youngest age group, we have multiple breaks for them to rest their eyes away from the screen, which makes the classes shorter than anticipated. Nonetheless, I feel their enthusiasm through the screens, especially during my class.

In terms of the schedule, we have a new peace hero every week. This week, our peace hero was Stacey Abrams, and the kids learned about democracy and how she advocates for equal voting rights in America. Every day, we have a peace activity led by my senior staff leader, Ms. Elise, and one of my favorites from this week was seeing them voting on the best cookie flavor and the cute reasoning behind their logic. While I upload recordings of me reading books related to those topics every day, I only get to teach the math class Tuesdays and Thursdays since science class occurs Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For this week, I introduced a math lesson on gathering data, so they are able to get to know each other through graphs of their favorite color and animals. In fact, near the end of class, one child conducted her own data experiment by investigating whether everyone owned pets or not. Uniquely, I know I have surpassed my goals during the first week based on their eagerness to attend my class, and going forward I hope to maintain this positive environment through more artsy presentations and interactive activities.

KUSH KATARIA | JUBILEE ARTS

My goals for the summer have not really changed. Though my goals have definitely been more solidified as my internship has gone on. Something which I really love as part of my internship is the frequent goal checking and reflecting. Every week during my one on one meeting with my supervisor, we go over my goals and my progress on them. Also every Friday during our staff meeting, we go over our professional and personal goals and share with the group. All this goal reflecting has helped me stay on track and get what I want out of this internship. Furthermore, one of my tasks as an intern was to use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound) format to reword my goals and make it more specific which has helped me narrow and develop a plan on how to accomplish my goals.

In general I really have 3 goals which I think I am making good progress on:

1. Get to know more about the Baltimore community and neighborhood by the end of my internship through interacting with staff as well as students, putting myself out there, and through the weekly Bites.

2. Walk away from this internship gaining marketing, sales, organization, communication, and entrepreneurship skills through working with the Youth in Business teams, helping organize the fashion show, and prioritizing personal development through frequent goal reflections.

3. Make meaningful connections with other staff members and participants by attending all the meetings and making an effort to get to know other community members better.
In the next weeks I will try to be more involved to try to reach these goals as being fully virtual can make some of these goals a challenge to reach. Despite being virtual, I do think I am making good progress on these goals and need to go back to them frequently to make sure I am on track.

FATIMA MENDOZA | OUT FOR JUSTICE & OFFICE OF COUNCILMEMBER JAMES TORRENCE

While my summer goals have definitely changed since the start of the internship, they have not changed dramatically. They still have the general idea behind them; I just had to make adjustments and minor alterations to them as I spent more time interning at Out For Justice. Because Out For Justice is going through a transition phase, as they are going through a process of hiring and reorganizing the office, they don’t have enough for me to do that fulfills working the total 35 hours. As a result, in addition to interning at Out For Justice, I’m also doing part-time at the Office of Councilman James Torrence. The incorporation of this internship to my CIIP experience has also meant an addition to my list of summer goals to go along with my previous ones. I am glad I also have this part-time internship because it gives me the unique opportunity to experience what work is like in the nonprofit sector and government, which is fascinating to observe. I believe that I am on track to meet my goals. In order to achieve them, I have to continue learning, talking, and asking questions.

MELANIE PILLACA-GUTIERREZ | OFFICE OF COUNCILMEMBER ZEKE COHEN

This past week seemed to go by really fast, mostly likely due to the Monday we had off. Most of my work concerns constituent services and I was able to resolve multiple cases this past week. Due to that, my workload was a little lighter than previous weeks. Reflecting on the past month’s cases I’ve resolved and the chances I’ve gotten to engage with the Baltimore community, I considered the goals I made during orientation. The largest goal I had for this summer was to learn about Baltimore and the role community can have in creating change and improvements. I think I am making steady progress with this goal, I learn something new about the city every week. While I don’t think I will leave this internship knowing everything about the city, I already have a deeper understanding of what Baltimore’s leaders and community members value. This is evident in how Baltimore is a trauma-informed city thanks to the Healing City Act that came out of Councilmember Cohen’s office, this means that services provided across government agencies are trauma-informed. Baltimore is committed to addressing and breaking the systemic cycle of poverty that is spread across the city.

What makes this piece of legislation so important is how it is not a standalone bill but works alongside existing community activism to comprehensively address the most pertinent issues residents face. I had the chance to sit in on a meeting with an organization whose work plays a role in this city-wide effort to heal. The Baltimore Banners are a hockey team with players from East Baltimore. The people who began this organization are community members who are dedicated to connecting young people to learning opportunities by being part of a sports team. I found it inspiring how this organization doesn’t just try to keep kids busy or ‘off the streets’ but actively provides them with long-term mentorship and professional development. Non-profits like this face challenges and should be recognized as public goods. It is possible for these organizations to be considered public goods in a city like Baltimore that prioritizes opportunities like this for communities to heal.

SUZY SCHLOSBERG | CENTRAL BALTIMORE PARTNERSHIP

I had four big goals for this summer: 1. learn about Baltimore, its history, its neighborhoods, its people. 2. learn about nonprofit work and how organizations operate. 3. learn how to create lasting and sustainable relationships, and 4. gain my own professional development skills, such as effective teambuilding, digital communication, and pulling & organizing data. Now that we are at the halfway point, I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress with these goals. Even though I am working remotely, I’ve learned so much about Baltimore, both through my placement, and through our Bites of Baltimore sessions. With each Bites session, I’m connecting the things that we discuss to the work that I’m doing with CBP- for example, in our Lunch and Learn with peer mentor Yvette on Friday, one of the issues we discussed was art and gentrification- specifically, the need for communities to take the lead on art and design. Yvette brought up a greater resource in the city for that community led design- the Neighborhood Design Center. This month, I will be working on submitting an application to the NDC on behalf of Cecil Elementary to support traffic calming of their drop off and pick up zones. The central question of how to center community-led design emerged in my work, and it was really interesting to learn about NDC’s role outside of that one traffic project that I’ve been exploring. I’ve also learned a lot more about central Baltimore neighborhoods through the research I’ve done for my placement, and I feel like I can close my eyes and imagine the neighborhoods in our catchment zone on a map and their boundaries. I feel like I’m going to continuing learning a lot more about the city in the second half of this program. For my second goal, I’ve gotten a lot more insight into the day-to-day workings of a nonprofit, and how complicated it can be. For example, about three weeks ago, we put together a design for a short that we wanted to have at our outdoor programming series this summer- one of our community partners suggested a design idea, I put together a logo, and we submitted it to the Greenmount West Power Press. But, with something time sensitive like these shirts, which would be needed for the rest of the events this summer, what’s the best way to get the vendor paid? They can’t begin production until the invoice is filled, but they also don’t accept PayPal, which means we would have to pay using a check, which can only be cut on a certain days of the week, and take about 10 days to process. I never realized how many logistical complications could emerge with something that seems maybe more straightforward. I’m also learning about what it means to work in a pretty small team, tackling a bunch of different projects. My third goal has been the most challenging one so far- building sustainable and lasting relationships is hard virtually, and I feel like right now a lot of my interactions are mitigated by being behind a screen. That is something that I want to work on with the time I have left. Finally, with my last goal of professional skills development, I’ve gained so much from CBP’s knowledge and resources—I’ve gotten much better at Sheets and Excel, and I feel like I have a better idea of how data should be organized and conveyed. These are all skills I know I’ll carry forward. Overall, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made with my goals, and I’ve learned so much that 4 weeks ago feels like a lifetime.

STACEY TANG | THREAD

Coming into CIIP, my primary goals were to get a better understanding about how large non-profits like Thread can remain sustainable over the long term as well as see how the high school experiences of students in Thread differ from my own high school experiences. In relation to my second goal, I wanted to get a better understanding of the Baltimore community and see how the community dynamic in an urban setting differs from my suburban hometown. I also hoped to improve my communication skills through talking to people of various backgrounds including volunteers, students and members within the Thread network.

As I’m reflecting at the halfway point of CIIP, I can confidently say that I am on track to accomplishing most of these goals. Having the opportunity to write curriculum for the Thread worksite as well as present some of the curriculum I prepared has allowed me to connect with the students in my worksite, reach out to other nonprofits to request them to come in to speak to our students, and also answer volunteer/parent requests about how the program is running. By diving headfirst into the program, I realize that I have become a gear in the larger machine of Thread. There have definitely been times where I was a well-oiled gear and other times where I got jammed, but those moments where I got jammed were a growing experience for me. For example, showing up 40 minutes late because I was in the wrong Zoom the first time I had to teach might have been really embarrassing and awkward at the moment, but I have never been late ever since. Seeing an email blast I drafted get absolutely obliterated by the communications team didn’t necessarily mean that I was a poor writer. After the fact, I have a better understanding of the lingo that is commonly used and will be better prepared to draft my next email blast! I’ve also had the opportunity to sit in through staff meetings and realized that the Youthworks summer program is only one small part of the bigger picture of Thread, but it doesn’t make it any less significant. As I move into these next four weeks, I hope to be able to attend more staff meetings so that I can see how other departments within Thread function and also continue to connect with the students at both my worksite and the DAASI worksite that is supervised by my supervisor. I also hope to get more involved in communicating important information to volunteers and students regarding Youthworks details and will be doing this as I already have plans with my supervisor to draft out 3(!) more emails that will go out to students and volunteers.

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