2022 Week 7: Arts

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

The main two other placements that I can think of that intersect with ours are St. Francis Neighborhood Center and Baltimore City Public Schools. I assist with weekly classes every Monday and Wednesday morning at St. Francis Neighborhood Center. The students I work with are in middle school and are learning how to use Tinkercad. It’s been really rewarding to see how far they’ve come in learning how to use the software to 3D model. I remember one kid who I’ve been working one-on-one with during the classes started with us late and missed the tutorial. So, he used to struggle with using the grouping feature and breaking down structures into smaller shapes like circles, squares, and such. Last I checked he was able to create the International Space Station on there with no issue!

The other intersection is with Baltimore City Public Schools. This recent week I got to tag along on an offsite visit where our Bloomberg Art Interns were painting and beautifying eight public bathrooms at one of Art with a Heart’s partners schools. They’re adding beautiful designs full of color and inspirational door decals. On our way there, my supervisor Nadia was giving me a mini tour of Baltimore. Each neighborhood we passed, she would explain the history that occurred there and some recommended spots to go check out. I think that getting such a rich perspective of life here and the history that preceded it is truly something that I will miss post August 5th. Forever grateful to everyone I worked with this summer that took the time to explain and recommend things for me. It really helped me find a sense of community here a lot faster.

Art with a Heart has many more partners that probably overlap quite a bit with other placements. The students we work with utilize some of the services that other CIIP interns have been placed at. Art with a Heart has done a really good job at finding their role in intersectionality and partnering with other placements and they’re going to continue to do so.

Photo of Shantika Bhat, smilingShantika Bhat | Jubilee Arts

Intersectionality is a huge part of the whole CIIP experience. All the discussions I had in BITES and GroupMe, it seems that all of our organizations can collaborate to help achieve others’ missions. Many of these organizations are working together to tackle the systematic issues that were put into place by different biases and policies. Jubilee Arts is under the larger nonprofit, Intersection of Change, where they have other smaller nonprofits that tackle the homeless for recovering women, food apartheid, and youth education in the arts in the west Baltimore community. They want to help the growing needs in the area through these different nonprofits that intersect with each other. For example, Jubilee Arts have summer programs where we have extra food left over and we give it out to the people in need. Although Jubilee is not a food program, we still help the needs in the community the best we can.

Initially, I thought that my work with Jubilee Arts in the Youth in Business program will intersect with my interests in Public Health and Arts. However, I realized there is a bigger picture that these program tackles. First, a lot of research that is being done for the people in the communities often never gets translated down to the people. My work with understanding the people and learning marketing techniques will help me become a better scientific educator. Additionally, art is a great way of self-expression. Many Baltimore youth don’t get opportunities to express themselves in a creative way because these arts are so frowned upon. This helps tackle a lot of mental health issues and allows people to feel freer. I got to watch the design process for the t-shirt design and most of them deal with mental health, Black excellence, self-care, and more. This shows that youth want to tackle these issues but just need the platforms.

During my time at Jubilee, I have been asked to mediate a collaboration with MERIT for changing health in Baltimore talk and to help NHS create a design for their van. As an Alumna with MERIT, I didn’t realize that my work with Jubilee Arts was a way I was changing healthcare in Baltimore. However, after this summer I realized that the intersection of public health and arts is important. NHS was creating a toolkit van that was traveling in the greater Mondawmin Area which is where Jubilee is around. Jubilee is filled with many talented youths who need to be recognized. As soon as the director announce this project the youth were eager to take on the project. Giving access and a platform for talent to be grown can be the same as the passion I have for creating more access to healthcare. I am glad to be a part of Jubilee Arts because I get to witness the impact that giving access does on people.

Photo of Caroline Colvin, smilingCaroline Colvin | Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

This past week marked my last full week with Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s ‘Summer at the Studio’ youth camp. It was also likely my most challenging and exhausting week so far.

For the first time this summer, it was hard to keep the students on track. Our group activities (e.g., memorizing a monologue) took much longer than previous weeks, and students were generally quicker to make their preferences – especially when negative – known (“this is boring!” “when are we going to take a break?” “this game is stupid.”).

One student in particular had a very hard time focusing. They often disrupted activities and went to great lengths to remain the center of attention at all times. As an educator, this situation was hard to navigate. On the one hand, I empathized with the student acting out. I knew that children very rarely act out for no reason, and that this behavior was likely the result of unmet psychosocial needs. At the same time, I empathized with the non-disruptive students. They were just as deserving of a positive camp experience, and it was difficult watching engaged students wait for others to self-correct their behavior before we could resume an activity. Ultimately, I learned to approach the situation with grace, explaining why we needed to remain focused in a calm but matter-of-fact way. I also made it a priority to engage with the distraction-prone student during breaks, giving them space to express their thoughts in a more appropriate environment.

While challenging at times, this week was still incredibly rewarding. I forged bonds with a new group of campers and watched – yet again – as eight strangers created something from nothing (a thirty-minute performance) in five short days. Working with anyone, no less children, has its frustrations, but the end result is only made sweeter with adversity.

Photo of Jocelyn Shan, smilingJocelyn Shan | Baltimore Youth Arts

This week was hard but sweet. I realized how much I will miss seeing the young people and staff after this summer ends. So many things come up within a week, so I’ve been jotting things down in my notes app as they happen. I had my check-in/site visit with Eli this week. It was surprisingly sweet and encouraging. Normally, though I see my supervisor, Leisha, every day, we don’t stop to talk about what I’m doing well because the days are just so fast-paced. However, during the meeting with Eli, she took the time to praise my problem-solving skills and attention to detail. I feel like I knew that she appreciated the work that I was doing, but hearing her say it out loud to Eli made me feel very warm and grateful. Something she said was about my interactions with the young people, that I don’t change who I am around them and that I just am myself, and they’ve accepted me as I am. Leisha and I never really talked about my interactions with youth before, so I don’t think she even knew that I was anxious about my interactions with them at first. I am generally quieter and have always been a bit nervous about not being entertaining enough around people that I meet. However, through the summer and spending time with the young people and the staff, I’ve seen how time plays a role in growing relationships with others. Showing up consistently for these young people and just being myself, even if it is quiet and even if I show up through small acts of service, has developed my relationships with them. Also, that meeting with Eli was helpful as a space to discuss how the summer has impacted my future plans. I think it has really pushed my interests towards research implementation rather than just conducting psychology or public health research in a bubble. Though I still need to sift through all my feelings and thoughts, it was helpful to just talk about it amidst my confusion with Leisha and Eli.

Another thing that stood out this week was my time spent interviewing the young people. For the blog for Baltimore Youth Arts, we are aiming to get a post of each youth on the site. I was nervous at first to pull young people from their classes and ask them seemingly random questions. But it was honestly the best way for me to get to know some of them. I was pleasantly surprised when they would engage with the questions and share more and more about themselves. It was really nice to get to know more of the youth and get to speak with them. A lot of them had such thoughtful answers about their experience this summer and it just softened my heart towards them. My only wish was that I did the interviews earlier in the summer! I can’t believe the last week of CIIP is coming up. I will be as intentional as possible with the time that I have left at BYA.