Spent the morning at the Department of Public Health with May Reynolds of the Casa Central violence prevention and intervention program. We learned the differences between imagined threat and perceived threat. It helped me put a lot of things into perspective because we forget that children are good observers but poor interpreters. One of the slides on the powerpoint read “Children see children do” which I think is a very accurate and powerful message that we should all take into consideration. As an older sister Im forced to always question my actions and make sure that Im always being the best I can be because I have younger sisters that are looking up to me and following in my footsteps wether I want them to or not. Its sometimes difficult having that ‘burden’ but I believe that if we were all more worried about the examples we’re setting for he next generation, perhaps this world could be a better place.
Towards the middle of the presentation I found myself feeling uneasy and kind of anxious. Although I don’t know first hand I know a person that lived in a home where domestic violence was a daily occurrence. Even though we were close I always felt like she constantly put up a wall and it was hard to get any closer to her. As May was listing the effects of domestic violence on adolescents it all began to make sense. Mood swings, learning problems, difficulty planning your future, self destructive behavior, under/over estimating danger, anxiety, insomnia, quick to react to threats, self criticism, self blame, she went on. I tried to hide my disturbed and unsettled face behind my hair and pulled it together, something I’m very good at. I wish that people would consider these effects more before they let their kids or loved ones witness these situations because violence is most definitely a learned behavior. I was so distraught by the end of the meeting that all the questions I had suddenly fled my mind….I wish I could heal the world.
Its 1:00 am and I cant sleep. Thought I would do one more blog post about Kimberly, our guest panelist who spoke about the vitality of education and effective ways of being an educator. I was pleased to learn about how to build our capacity for creative thought and problem solving as well as how we can create a scenario that stands strong because “students learn better in a heterogeneous environment.” As I mentioned in the meeting, one of my many dreams / goals is to one day open a school in my native country Ethiopia where education in the rural parts of the country is scarce. Although the system is completely different to the one here in the US, her advice was very helpful and thought provoking.
She advised us the importance of always taking the road that leads to self actualization and how we must teach people as holistically as possible. With about a million students in the Chicago Public Schools system that cant be an easy task. Im grateful to have met and spent time listening to Kimberly this evening and her powerful words will always resonate in my mind. “In order for people to be free they have to have education and not just emancipation therefor we must strive for education not incarceration.”
Mercy Youth Home is an amazing residential facility for kids experiencing trauma. I was in shock at how amazing the 127 year old organization was in terms of their purpose, their motives and the ways in which they support their kids. They stress the significance of education on the kids by providing tutoring and 100% college tuition while also creating a safe haven for them. Even watching the promotional video and listening to the success stories brought me to tears. If I was a millionaire I would gladly invest in Mercy Youth and I was very impressed by how efficiently thy utilize their money and support all their kids with about 27 million dollars a year.
We spent the second half of the day canvassing for Mercy Youth Home in a different neighborhood. One thing that I found interesting was how some people would walk right past us like they didn’t notice our existence and others would be genuinely rude. It helped me reevaluate how I would perhaps treat homeless people on a daily basis. Some food for thought; we must acknowledge our citizens regardless of their class, social status or appearance.
I had a lot of fun today and I cant wait to see what tomorrow brings!
As day two of our trip is coming to an end I found myself replaying the series of events that happened throughout the day in my mind. It was an interesting day to say the least. We got a chance to volunteer and learn more about World Vision, a non profit that promotes positive community youth development through health and education as well as creating a strong network of support. The best part of my day however was listening to Froswa’ Booker-Drew, author of Rules of Engagement; Making Connections Last share her experiences, values and knowledge. I learned so much from her in such a short time. All I could think about during the train ride back was how inspired I felt. She’s probably one of the most resourceful, intelligent, open, and influential people Ive ever met. I learned effective ways of building social capital, I learned the importance of networking, I learned every new face we encounter has the potential to be a stepping stone or a lesson in our future. Everything she was saying made complete and total sense. It’s essential that we all have the knowledge of how to build relationships with people and understand the concept of social capital and how we cant have it until we establish trust; the root of any relationship.
In an odd and surprising way I leaned more about myself today. After today I want to pay more attention to the people I meet everyday and the way in which I interact with them. I want to be able to observe and deduce peoples synergies and find that connection to the community but in order to do so I need to find myself first. I have to exercise how to stay true to myself, something I often struggle with. Its known that in order to best help others one has to help them self first. “Know who you are, know your potential, find your passion”, her words keep ringing in my ears. They seem like such average words or common advice but to me it meant a lot more. Although I did express my gratitude to her I don’t think she will ever know what she did for me today. I took one last look around the room at the end of the meeting and felt a sense of hope and motivation.
Two quotes that will stay with me forever after today; “The true measure of a nations standing is how well it attends to its children” and “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world , indeed its the only thing that always has”.
My first impression of The Windy City was, “wow, what an architectural city”. Despite the fact that I was exhausted from not having slept for over 24 hours, I could feel the creative and almost poetic aura of the city that probably goes unnoticed on a daily basis.
My knowledge on Chi city is currently very limited, in fact the only thing I know about Chicago is that it’s the third largest city in the US. This is my first time in Chicago and I’m very excited to discover it’s culture, history and beauty.
I’m eager to really get the most out of this trip and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share the experience with. Can’t wait until tomorrow!