Nicole Rivas | CIIP 2023 Blog Portfolio


Orientation was challenging in a few ways for me. On practical note, waking up earlier than usual and getting into a routine was tough at first, but I’m grateful that orientation week forced me to get into a rhythm and I know it’ll help me long term with being on time and holding myself accountable, which are personal goals that I have for the summer.
I especially loved the alumni panel. It was so reassuring to see how invaluable the experiences and opportunities that CIIP has given its alum are. I also related a lot to one panelist in particular so I felt super validated and seen.
Dr. Rev. Brown I thought was an ideal speaker to end the week with. I was incredibly impressed by his presentation, as he was able to synthesize the big themes from the week. Firstly, avoiding a (white) savior complex in doing community work. Secondly, being open and humble, and ready to listen and learn especially in the first few weeks. Thirdly, understanding the nuances of our intersecting identities and positionality, especially in different contexts. In other words, being keen to the fact that sometimes, depending on the context and environment we find ourselves in, our identities can lend us incredible privilege or disadvantages.
Last thing I’ll say is I loved getting to know everyone. This cohort has given me a sense of community within the Hopkins community that I’ve never had before, which I’m incredibly grateful for.

Week 2

This week was interesting because each day looked different in terms of what my daily tasks were and what my work environment was. Monday (Juneteenth) was Film Fest so while it was a long day, it didn’t look or feel like a typical work day at all because there were workshops, art, and of course, films to enjoy and learn from throughout the day. The energy was a little stressful at first, as there was some scrambling happening to sort out last minute logistics, for example. But I witnessed great teamwork and admirable efficiency by the Fusion team and friends when it was time to troubleshoot. It ended up being a successful event, overall, and it was interesting seeing my co-workers in a different environment. It was also a fun opportunity for me to mingle with Fusion partners/grantees and other Baltimore locals! Tuesday, I went into work and worked on my long term project and did other miscellaneous tasks around the office per request. Wednesday, I tried working from home as I had no meetings on my schedule. It was my first time exploring this modality and I will say I was a bit hesitant at first, as I was afraid I wouldn’t be as productive as I needed to be. However, since my roommate also happens to work from home sometimes, it was easy for me to stay on track because I had someone else helping me hold myself accountable. I also took advantage of the flexibility in my schedule to meal plan and cook my lunch/dinner for the next day since I knew I’d go into the office the next day. Thursday, I went to the office and accompanied my supervisor to an in-person meeting at another near-by location. This meeting was a GroundRoots meeting with is basically a coalition/network of local like-minded nonprofits that meet (semi-?) monthly to talk about collaborative projects and to help optimize each others capacities. While I didn’t fully understand everything that was discussed at the meeting, I learned a lot about the realm of non-profit work and the problems associated with what some call the non-profit industrial complex. I’m hoping to start reading The Revolution Will Not be Funded soon!). That was my Thursday morning before I returned to the office to chip away at my long term project again. Friday was a hybrid-ish day, I had one virtual meeting with my co-worker and sent texts to Fusion grantees who I’ll be working with and who I was introducing myself to throughout the week via phone call. Then, at the end of the work day I got ready for the reception for the art exhibition at MAXGallery which I help set up last week. It was a great turn out and wonderful reception despite the less than ideal weather. It was definitely an ideal end to a rollercoaster of a week, though.
I learned that while I liked exploring the variety, I realized I really yearn for a bit more structure to my schedule and thus, I have to start adding things in my schedule that give me a bit more structure to my day. Cooking is one thing I’ve found is a great option to plan my schedule around. I’ve also realized that it’s important to schedule in breaks to take care of myself so as to avoid burn out too early in the day, something I had to adapt to regardless of where I was working.

Week 3

This week was a little weird since now I’m now really switching gears to focus on my main project for the summer. I was making a lot of calls during the week to try to schedule meetings with InFusion grantees to get started on their one-sheeters. My first meeting was 10 am on Saturday morning, where I sat in on a community cooking class at Amazing Grace Church which is a program that InFusion sponsors. I was a little worried because I didn’t want to intrude a space where I am not necessarily a familiar face, as cooking tends to be an intimate activity and I think most people prefer to do it without someone looking over their shoulder. My job entailed sort of doing just that, to go in and talk to people and get to know them in order to help them tell their story and know more about what the cooking class contributes to community life as well as how it fits into their personal lives. Thus, I was worried that it would be hard to build enough trust necessary for people to feel comfortable to share their experience with me. While everyone, including me was a little timid, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly everyone opened up to me, but I think food tends to do that to people. Everyone was so welcoming, hospitable, and eager to have me taste test their food! On the menu was mac n cheese and fried chicken. It was so delicious and I felt grateful to be take part in a space full of good food and good people. The program leader, Ms. Candice was so inspiring, authentic, unapologetic, and easy to talk to! In my conversations with her and others in the program, I was moved by her desire and initiative to give back to her community beyond existing programs. This experience set a high bar as my first interview with grantees. I look forward to continue to make connections with grantees and sustaining those connections throughout the summer through our collaboration on their one sheeters!