2022 Week 3: Arts
My internship is about anything but routine and it’s about to change completely starting this next week. Next week I will be off-site working at Cecil Kirk Recreation Center and St. Francis Neighborhood Center. Both are placements that are labeled by my coworkers and supervisors as the STEM-y sites. The former focuses on graphic design and the latter focuses on 3D printing. Although I have some experience in graphic design and am excited by the prospect of learning more about each tool, it’s a little funny to me that there was an assumption made that I knew how to 3D print already. It was of real shock to my supervisor. Sometimes, I think that going off simply my major, I’m the worst blend of skill sets. I’m not physics or engineering, so I don’t have a strong enough background to be useful on a whim in coding or 3D printing or architectural design. I’m certainly no art major or sociology or family studies either. My art background isn’t in visual; it’s in performance, film, or writing. All this just means that I’m learning a lot to keep up! This past week I learned how to make optical illusions and had so much fun creating geometric shape samples. I also enjoyed looking at Baltimore rowhouse architecture and designing templates digitally for the kids to use. Over the weekend, I plan on teaching myself how to 3D print and design so that I’m ready to help kids learn those same skills at St. Francis Neighborhood Center. I also am glad for the excuse to review graphic design during my time at Cecil Kirk so that when I have to design posters for Witness during the school year, I’ll be ready.
I’m both very excited and ambivalent for this upcoming week. For one, I have to figure out an entirely new mode of transportation to work. St. Francis Neighborhood Center in relation to where I currently am staying has no method of getting there via bus. If I walk, it’s about 30 minutes and crossing through a highway. So, I’m not entirely sure how to get myself there and back but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. Christina might lend me her bike which is very kind of her although nothing is confirmed yet. Regardless, I like that it will give me a chance to explore an entirely different part of Baltimore. One of my favorite parts of this summer has been getting to walk around the city and talk to people. I’ve become a regular at a coffee shop nearby and have befriended this old man named David. He’s an expert at Baltimore theater it seems. Although at my job, I don’t usually get the chance to speak to volunteers this past week I got to hear the life stories of three women who grew up here. One taught me that the key to learning Spanish is to fall for a Spanish speaker. The other shared the story of how her life changed following an injury and her newfound aspiration for writing memoirs. Then the last women spoke to me about her daughter who studying Public Health as well and the issues surrounding transportation in Baltimore. This is why I’m really looking forward to the summer programming starting Tuesday. Every day I’ll get to work and meet new people!
A typical day of work at my placement is spent working with my supervisor, Peymaan. About ½ my time is spent at the office/around the city, and the other half is spent doing virtual work. It’s been a nice balance, especially since before I began my placement, I was expecting to be completely virtual. I get to work on a lot of different things which work really well for me. It helps me maintain a better focus, rather than having one thing to work on for a long period of time. My supervisor is a really interesting person, and he’s been able to teach me a lot, and I’ve gotten to speak with him a lot about our views on the world. He was a film major in college, and for him, didn’t realize he wanted to do community based work until later on in his college years. He had always been involved with community work in some capacity, but he didn’t realize he would want to enter into the workforce for it.
One of the most interesting projects I’ve been working on has been a documentary in collaboration with another Baltimore organization, The Youth Food Security Network. It was started by Baltimore high school students during COVID to help support other youth throughout the city facing food insecurity. We’ve gotten to interview many different people about it, including the CEO of a food health organization, Tambra Raye Stevension, the employees at an Urban Farm, Backyard Basecamp, as well as the social workers at a resource center, Springboard. I’ve learned a lot about food in Baltimore as well as gotten to know the students who are running this, their beliefs, their motivations, and their lives. In addition, I’ve gotten to learn more camera and sound skills, and Peymaan said that he would help teach me some editing skills as well which I’m very excited for!
So a typical day at Jubilee Arts is a bit all over the place because we have art classes and host Youth in Business in our space. Since I am primarily helping out with the Youth in Business program, I have to wake up at least by 6:30 so that I could get ready for the day. I usually make breakfast, pick my outfit out, and pack my lunch the night before so I can leave as soon as possible. I usually take the purple and lime to work which can be hectic. I notice that the Lime doesn’t come as frequently so I need to make sure I get on the 8 am one at the latest. Once I get to work by 8:30, the Youth in Business staff and I have a meeting and we set up before the kids come in at 9 am. I sit in the back where I try to get some social media plans or reels edited. I also check in the kids and ask them if they want to have breakfast/lunch. There are times when I have to pick up and sign off the lunch from our summer lunch provider. Before the program started I would observe a lot of meetings being done for the whole day. They would talk about the logistics of how we would make our program smooth. The daily agenda was super flexible and I was just following the director and my supervisor around. However, for the last 3 weeks, I would try to stay for the art components of the non-profit since I wanted to create and learn some techniques. I shadowed from 5-8 pm intro to sewing and then I plan on staying for making clay classes on Fridays. During my sewing class, I learned about people’s passions and careers which was interesting to hear. During the senior clay class, I met a retired researcher from the Bloomberg School of Public Health. It was such a coincidence that I was able to meet someone who was outside of the Hopkins bubble affiliated with Hopkins. It was hard when I didn’t have a schedule before and I kind of just went with the flow but now I like that there is structure when the Youthworks kids came in. I’m not working on any projects besides just trying to make social media content. I think that I need to re-evaluate the goals I have for my social media post soon so that there are more tangible goals. I have a lot of fun when I make the ideas.
On a typical day at DewMore this week, we would gather and work on a quick write followed by a discussion about everybody’s poems. These were fun because they always lasted longer than they should’ve but also made us laugh, set the intention for the day and allowed us to get to know each other even better. Especially coming in as the one who didn’t know anybody, this helped make me feel like I was learning about the staff with everybody else. Then, we would work on lesson plans and each lunch with a lot of time for conversation in between. Before we knew it, it would be 5 and we would start to head out of Impact Hub.
Honestly, everybody I have met so far has been so incredible and inspiring. It still blows my mind that I’m part of this community with amazing poets and people and for this I am so fortunate. From the first day on I’ve been welcomed into the DewMore family with open arms and nothing but love and respect which is so important in creating a happy work environment that feels like anything but work. The talent and passion in the room never ceases to amaze me. Chin-yer has been amazing in integrating me into the group and giving me a space where my voice is heard. On Friday, after reading a poem I wrote in the workshop I lead, one of my supervisors, Slangston, said “Johns Hopkins came through for the first time in 300 years.” which made the whole group burst out in laughter and made me feel so proud that my work and love of poetry and for helping the community not only can have an impact of someone’s perception of me but of the institution I am affiliated with, which means more than I can ever explain. And I think this is exactly what CIIP works to do with all their community partners.
We were in person this week! Yay! Being with people (even if it’s while moving heavy boxes) makes the day pass so much faster. The beginning of the week, I was working from home, finishing up in-kind donation research and outreach and I began brainstorming potential Guest Speaker/Field trip ideas for the youth next week. It was pretty fun to think about how diverse the arts are — it can be painting or writing or dancing or singing. Also, a surprising resource I found was the BYA Instagram. There are a lot of Baltimore non-profits, and we follow a lot of them! It was cool to scroll through and come across so many diverse organizations doing sincere and hard work in this city.
The latter half of the week, I was either at BYA’s old location (in Mount Vernon near Ceremony Coffee) or at our new location on North Ave. The days were filled with moving boxes from old BYA to new BYA, arranging boxes, taking things out of boxes, and rearranging those things until things made sense. My supervisor, Leisha, has a great eye for where things go and made an empty art room turn into a welcoming, open space for youth filled with supplies.
One interesting thing that happened to me this week was realizing that certain aspects of myself can be praised or criticized, depending on the environment I’m in. One of these aspects is my affiliation with JHU. Though the staff is small at BYA, a good chunk of them are native Baltimoreans. I felt ashamed sharing that I was from out of state and that I go to Hopkins. They were gracious and didn’t bat an eye, continuing to ask me about myself. I’m still learning how to deal with this inner-conflict that pops up when I share where I go to school. I don’t think I’m well-versed enough to sustain a rally of acknowledging every bad and selfish thing this institution has done. I also began to think if my words really held any weight when my actions showed that I was continuing to attend this university and planned to get my degree from it. Either way, this week made me feel conflicted. When I was at work, I would talk with people who are doing amazing work for youth and pursing things they love, but acknowledging that their pay is awful. We would talk about the difficulties of running a non-profit and not knowing where the money will come from the next fiscal year. Real people would share parts of the lives and it felt so heavy but also so alive. It was wild to then leave work, wait for the JHMI for 30 seconds, and get on, as several people who were waiting at the bus stop long before me still remained waiting. Hearing other undergraduates talk about their MCAT study plans during their gap year, a year where they didn’t have to work or be in school, felt wrong. Things in life are definitely not black or white, good or bad, but the change in environment that I experienced in a minute felt so conflicting. I still don’t exactly know what to take away from that experience, but I think talking about it (writing about it) is a good start.