2022 Week 5: Arts

Photo of Liesel Arauz Vallecillo, smilingLiesel Arauz Vallecillo | Art With A Heart

I think something that I learned through my internship that I will take with me in my future profession as a public health doctor is the value of asking for and listening to people’s stories, and the importance of recognizing how identities and systemic structures can influence resources and behavior.
People are the experts in their own experiences. This is one of the main sentences that really stuck with me post-orientation because of how true it was. I’ve learned so much about Baltimore’s history and the way people felt about certain things hear by listening or asking while working on art projects. I don’t even think that learned is a strong enough word. Inspired or enlighted is more accurate sometimes to be honest. I’ve also noticed during my time at Art with a Heart that the people I seem to admire most in my workplace are those who are involved and who ask and listen to others. I work with supervisors and volunteers who are the kind of people who will the first time you talk to them will often portray themselves in a way that makes them seem like they’re a major fan of something you’re also into just to get you to open up. For example, for the longest time I used to think that one of my supervisors was a major DND fan and to be honest this could be true! But later this week it hit me that he would strike up similar conversations with other shy interns and for each one he would have a designated interest that they could talk about. Another one of our volunteers, every time I see her, she is talking to someone new and asking questions about their life stories and sharing what she’s experienced too. The people I work with are some of the warmest people I know, and I hope that as a physician I can have the same effect of being someone that they feel they can open up to as them.
Another thing that I just want to briefly reflect on in this blog is that during my time making a new donation request spreadsheet amongst local businesses and cafes, I really got a strong visualization of food apartheid in Baltimore. Most of the businesses who gave food donations to the community publicly and had a pre-established way of doing so (i.e., an application) were in the white L. This is due to these areas being typically the most invested and therefore having the most to easily expend. The issue with this is often when reviewing applications most corporations have warnings that they tend to favor those who are nearby their establishments or where their employees live. If most of these establishments are in the white L and their employees live close to where they work because it’s less transportation to deal with, that means nonprofits may have a harder time getting their food donation request accepted.

Photo of Lubna Azmi, smilingLubna Azmi | Wide Angle Youth Media

A big thing that continue to appears throughout my experience is how important detail and thorough communication is. Making sure that things shared with others you’re working with are well organized and well communicated is something I’ve observed and had to practice. It’s different to school in a way where you can create your brainstorm or your outline however you’d like, because only you will see and use it. When working in an organization, many of the materials you create/work on are shared or in collaboration with others at some point or another. I’ve been able to practice that skill more in my intern role at Wide Angle. An example, on Friday, I gave a presentation to the two directors at the organization with my supervisor. One of my tables, I didn’t label all the subtitles as thoroughly, and after, the directors gave me feedback on it. Even though I understood, and to me the subtitle seems intuitive, it’s because I made the presentation. It was a bit hard to receive blunt feedback in that moment, but it is a necessary thing to get used to.
Another skill I have learned that I will carry with me beyond this experience is camera skills, specifically with shot set up. I got to learn more about the composition of camera and film shots from my supervisor, Peymaan. He studied film in college, so he has a ton of knowledge about cameras and film generally. I’ve been reading about film, but I haven’t gotten very much hands on technical experience, so getting to have that has been very enlightening. I also have coworkers who know cameras really well, and have been able to learn more about equipment from them. One of my other coworkers, Matt, actually just gave me a piece of camera equipment as a gift for a project I’m working on. I’m going to learn color editing and some more editing skills from him soon as well, so I’m very excited for that.

Photo of Shantika Bhat, smilingShantika Bhat | Jubilee Arts

I learned to become more patient and observant. I was trying to create a space for the youth to express themselves in the design process. This was a difficult task to do but since there is a team of Alumni Mentors I was able to get help. I am so used to being a student being too own to speak up so sometimes I found it hard to sit back and let them speak. I find it challenging to define when I should step in and then wait for them to make the next moves. I would need to take this skill of taking space and leaving space for the next time I work in a team.

Although I don’t think that I want to be a social media influencer I did learn skills I want to grow on. I love capturing my memories through diaries or taking pictures but now I can use reels. I don’t think that social media will help me with my academic desires but the skills of knowing how to market can. I had to learn how to be more neat and exact just like a science experiment but with posting. There were formulas of what times were the best to post, how to catch the reader’s eyes, and so much more. If I learn how to make my life as captivating as the social media posts that I make then I can become better at developing my brand. Additionally, I knew that I had strength in creating ideas because of my previous experience at CHARM but I didn’t know how to execute those ideas. I was given the tools to learn how to execute those ideas on various levels. Tech apps became my best friend because I didn’t do a lot of things manually. For example, I used the Later. Com, Canva, and PhotoGrid to help me make engaging content that posts at specific times without me having to do it. So I plan on doing more research on different apps that can help me with whatever I need. There is indeed an app for everything.

Lastly, I am learning that I am not the only expert in the room and that I should listen more. I have a fear of not being good enough or the right person for certain jobs. With the creativeness, confidence, and organizational skills I learned I can use that to get over the imposter syndrome. I don’t need to prove to everyone constantly something. I struggle a lot this summer with being able to help with what is needed. I felt like because I was the new person I needed to work hard to be on the same playing field as the Alumni Mentors. However, I realized that I NEVER will be able to be like them because they have years of experience that I can’t just have after a few weeks. I want to be able to take these soft skills with me as I continue my academic journey because I will have to be a new person for the next 10 years.

Caroline Colvin | Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

This week, I worked fully in-person at the Studio at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. I worked directly alongside CSC Teaching Artist Michael “Mike” Harris, teaching acting fundamentals and the story of Macbeth to eight children.

Each week of CSC camp follows a theme (usually, such as this week, a particular Shakespeare show), culminating in a thirty minute performance on Friday. Because this past week’s campers were an older group, we were able to retell Macbeth through both improvised and scripted scenes. Each camper was assigned at least one scene for which they learned and performed the script’s actual Shakespearean dialogue, and several students fully memorized their lines! I was able to coach one of these scenes (the witches infamous ‘double double, toil and trouble’ scene and subsequent encounter with Macbeth), and found it delightful watching young minds unpack the language of Shakespeare.

Students also gained an introduction to stage design, creating props and banners to display onstage during Friday’s performance. Myself and the other CSC staff particularly enjoyed a banner with the slogan “Scotland runs on Duncan,” a Macbethian parody of Dunkin’ Donuts popular catch phrase.

Perhaps the story of Macbeth is getting to my head, but this week – while exhausting – felt prophetic in many ways. I was actually in a show with Mike several years ago (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and – as someone who wants to pursue both acting and social justice/education work – I found it extremely beneficial gaining insight into two sides of the same artist’s career. I also have played the First Witch in Macbeth and it felt fitting to revisit this material through an education lens.

Next week, I’ll be back at camp with a different theme (The Tempest) and new group of students! I’ve been told it is a younger group, so it will be interesting to see how one adapts lessons to fit age.

Photo of Christian Paulisich, smilingChristian Paulisich | DewMore

Getting to work with amazing people each day and do something that I am passionate about has been an incredible experience for me. I have grown so much as a poet writing with the students and speaking with other staff poets as well as teaching. Teaching has been a valuable experience for me, but has been more challenging than I expected. It has caused me to extend my patience farther than ever before because some students are more resistant to learning/writing than others. I have also strengthened my ability to mediate conflict with the students in a calm and effective way. Doing this work has also been very tiring and has pushed me to dig deep and give everybody by 110% at all times, always attentive, engaged, and friendly. Despite these difficulties, I think it has helped me develop professionally and will prepare me for working with children in the future and engaging with them whether it be in teaching or in a clinical setting. I have seen some of the students really come into their own this week and become more vulnerable which has been an amazing thing to witness. It has made it all worth it and I cannot wait to continue to see them grow.

Photo of Jocelyn Shan, smilingJocelyn Shan | Baltimore Youth Arts

This week was, as a whole, tiring.

The main thing I took away from this is that 1) I have endless respect for teachers and 2) I could never be a teacher. There was an incident last week where a few students were disrespecting and bullying two special needs youth in the program. Even though the situation feels so black and white (no one should ever be bullied), I saw firsthand how nuanced it can be. An instructor can either be quick to scold and send youth into the hall, just to be out of sight and out of mind. Or, they can pretend nothing is happening and just let the chaos ensue as they power along with their lessons. I realized that for myself, I can easily be a young person’s friend, but I don’t know how to be their teacher. There is a fine balance to walk there, between instructing them as a mentor and older person and being careful to not shut off your ears to what they have to say. I’m grateful for the staff at my workplace, because we sat down to talk about the incident after work on Thursday. It was grounding to hear that other staff who are older than me and have a background in teaching, were also asking for guidance on what it looks like to correct and call out students with grace and empathy. I felt a little overwhelmed this week because I found myself in so many situations where I didn’t know how to act, but hearing solidarity in our uncertainty made me more at ease. It was a challenging week but reminded me of how nuanced people and relationships and youth are.