2022 Orientation: Healthcare

Fatima Baloul | Shepherd’s Clinic

There are very few things at Hopkins that have made me feel wholeheartedly comfortable and safe inside: 1 ) honey graham ice cream and 2 ) my peer – mentor group :). It took me a while to know how to start my post. There was so much personal growth and learning that happened within orientation, it is hard to reflect on all of it. I think orientation was one of the few times I have ever truly opened up about my vulnerabilities and felt completely and entirely comfortable because of the people that I was surrounded with, especially my peer – mentor group. They all radiated beautiful, authentic, and warm auras, and I cannot thank them enough for being such genuinely incredible humans to me. On a more serious note, each presentation, lecture, and activity we had the opportunity to engage in throughout the past week was so incredibly intentional and meaningful, whether that be “ sculpting ” a particular word or actively listening to each other, I learned at least a portion of the experiences of Baltimore natives and the role of Hopkins in that, and those activities clarified, to me, the privileges I have as a Hopkins student in Baltimore, as an able – bodied person, and as an individual with a support system. I continued to remind myself, over the past week, to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. As a Black woman, learning more about the CIIP community partners and organizations, especially those that place an emphasis on amplifying BIPOC voices or have a central focus on Black maternal health in Baltimore, felt reassuring. As I embark on my internship at Shepherd’s Clinic within the coming week, I am so eager to learn, and I hope to be an empathetic listener and a support system to those that I work with and those that I provide service to.

Photo of Emma Bocanegra, smiling Emma Bocanegra | Esperanza Center

Going into the last week, I had no idea what to expect. I anticipated sitting through speakers about Baltimore and its history, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how engaging and thought provoking all of the content was. The main difference between my expectation of orientation versus the reality was how much I learned from talking to and listening to my peers, as well as the speakers who presented for us. The most memorable moments from the last five days all involved conversations I got the chance to have with my peer mentor group and the internship cohort at large. I feel very lucky to have been introduced to so many people with similar passions and attitudes about how to change the perspectives of Baltimore to more positive and asset-focused outlooks. This was an especially refreshing after the general atmosphere for the last 3 years of Hopkins students making derisive comments about feeling unsafe, uncomfortable, or unimpressed with the city. Since I grew up in Anne Arundel County and went to high school in the Black butterfly region of Baltimore and grew to really love and see so much beauty and complexity in the city, this experience restored a lot of my faith in the Hopkins community’s presence and intentions in the city.
Obviously I had been very excited to be accepted into the program and to learn more about my placement, but the last week definitely added a lot more depth to the excitement for all I’m going to get out of CIIP this summer, and made me believe that this summer is going to be very impactful in the overall trajectory of where my career will go.

Photo of Dumebi Nwankwo, smiling Dumebi Nwankwo | MOMCares

Upon starting my CIIP journey, I was faced with so many conflicting emotions. A huge part of me had so much joy to begin the work I was passionate about, but another part of me had fears of underperforming. I soon realized through meeting such a wonderful cohort that although everyone in their own right is incredible, from their work, to their passions, to their ability to hold connection, we all held a similar sentiment: “I want to learn something from this experience.”

Many orientation presentations, and reflections, later I realized the only way to really benefit from this experience is to leverage my different identities. As a black woman, the idea of privileges was always a tricky subject for me. In many cases I am amongst the least privileged in the room. After really understanding the many identities I held, I began to acknowledge some privileges I didn’t even realize I had. Some going to Hopkins awarded me, others inherent. (Not to mention, unfortunately, the negative effects Hopkins has had on some communities.)

With this, it is important to not look at the communities I will be working within as someplace that exists for me to change. Granted, I had always rejected the ideals of saviorism, but I also failed to acknowledge how I may play a role in that. It feels like it should be common sense. “You are not fixing a community because the community is not a problem. Additionally, there’s decades of ground work before you by community organizers that have paved the way.” That alone is simple to grasp but often hard to communicate. This week I’ve not solidified my design to learn and grow, I’ve really thought about what that means in terms of the approach I take towards this internship.

I look forward to what this summer has in store for me. I hope to take this quote by Rev. Herber Brown III, “use privilege like a hammer, and bang the [institutions] that gave it,” and apply it to my journey.

Photo of Stacey Tang, smiling Stacey Tang | Healthcare for the Homeless

Coming into orientation this week, I felt extremely nervous about my abilities to be an effective peer mentor and facilitate discussion with my group. Even though I have already gone through orientation in the past, this year I could no longer hide behind a mute microphone, turn my camera off, or inch myself outside of the frame of my camera. Being not only present through my words and ideas, but also through my physical presence was definitely much more challenging. At times I felt guilty for not having the right words to say, feeling as if I was not able to take on the role of a Peer Mentor as naturally as other Peer Mentors, and leaving some conversations at an awkward stalemate. Despite this, I am recognizing that being able to facilitate and expand beyond my comfort zone is something that will take time, and even just through this one week, I’ve been able to take those steps towards improving myself.

Despite the challenges, this week was one of the most heartwarming and fulfilling weeks of my time at Hopkins. From the scavenger hunt, (yay Stacey’s Moms!) to the presentations from Wide Angle Youth Media and the CSC staff, I have been able to reconsider and reflect on a lot of my own beliefs and assumptions that I have held about Baltimore and the world beyond. I battled with similar struggles in the past, but what made this year so much more different was that I was able to more easily bounce ideas off with other CIIP-ers and learn about their lives and their experiences in both the formal settings of group reflections and in casual settings such as the lunches at R. House. This week alone has given me so many new friends and people to connect to, and even if we won’t all be together in our large cohort, I am hopeful that I will be able to create and foster even more friendships.

Photo of Teagan Toomre, smiling Teagan Toomre | Keswick Multi-Care Center

For me, the most impactful and enjoyable part of orientation was meeting the other interns and beginning to form bonds with them. As a natural extrovert, I frequently look forward to meeting new people and forming friendships. However, something unexpected and exciting to me about this week was that we formed more than friendships; the people I met quickly became colleagues, teammates, and confidantes, as well as friends. Rarely do I find so many commonalities and shared passions among a group of 50 more or less random strangers. Of course, all of us applied for CIIP and were chosen for a reason, and it makes sense that many of us share a common passion for making change and helping others. However, it really was unexpected to me how quickly I would begin feeling comfortable sharing intensely personal thoughts and experiences with people whose names I had never heard a week prior. The speed with which CIIP really is beginning to feel like a family is wild.

Both this experience of bonding with others in the cohort and some of the things we heard from various speakers have me thinking a lot about relationships and the potential for growth and change through the leveraging of these relationships. Jessa said something when they talked to us about how our interactions with people in our placements aren’t just a reflection of us, but they reflect on all of JHU, and especially given the complex relationship between Baltimore and Hopkins, can serve to be especially powerful and impactful, for better or for worse. That hasn’t left my brain since, probably partially because messing it up is a big fear of mine! But I think it goes to show how relationships, both interpersonal and regarding an institution or identity, can be extremely powerful. I talked with my supervisor on Friday about the prospect of potentially collaborating with another intern if the situation should arise, and she was explaining how the relationship building between community partners that occurs as a result of CIIP can often be the catalyst that allows these partnerships to happen. I’m excited to see both how our relationships with one another grow over the course of the summer and how these can be leveraged to create change.

Photo of Sellina Yoo, smiling Sellina Yoo | MERIT

Orientation challenged me to speak up and feel comfortable sharing my emotions with others. I first found the reflection sessions and theater session very uncomfortable, but throughout the week, I realized that my group members wanted to hear what I had to share and there was no judgment in the space. I think this really helped me relax and stop overthinking what I was going to say before doing so. During the theater session, my body felt very stiff and awkward, and I was so worried that I was going to look silly in front of everyone, but I soon realized that everyone was just trying their best to reach inside and find those emotions/reactions inside of them, and I began to let loose and try to do my best to do the same. I really enjoyed the presentations on privilege on Friday. After hearing the Center of Diversity and Inclusion and the Reverend on their points of views on taking privilege and making an impact, I felt more encouraged and passionate about doing the same. I have always recognized my privileged background, but have also felt very caught in it, as if I could do nothing but apologize. I realized that with this power that I have, I can serve my partner better by communicating with Johns Hopkins to help get MERIT’s students clinical experience, ID badges, access to library resources, etc. I can also advocate for these students to Johns Hopkins to help them be included in the list of JHH’s summer interns so that they can get the meal and added benefits given to these interns. I learned that my role as a link or bridge between MERIT and Johns Hopkins is more than just relaying messages between, but also advocating for these messages to be heard. Orientation was truly an eye-opening experience, and I know that the lessons I learned will carry on to this summer and beyond.