Thursday, July 10, 2008

Edgewood College Visit/ First days on the job

Looking back on my first three days at Cabrini Connections, I can say with confidence that I am going to really enjoy working here, with the staff, the volunteers and most importantly the kids! So, to recap- Every summer for the past 10 years, a contingent of graduate students, professors and volunteers from Edgewood College has come to engage the kids for 3 days with various activities designed to intellectually stimulate the kids, boost their self confidence, get them thinking about the future and otherwise excite them about being involved with an organization as dynamic as Cabrini Connections.

Throughout the past 3 days, I was able to meet many of the kids with whom I will be working in the coming year as well as a number of dedicated professors and volunteers who are interested in the tutor/mentor model and what we are doing here at Cabrini. I was overwhelmed by the receptiveness of the kids to all these new friends and faces, including my own, and beamed as many of them expressed excitement at my new involvement with the organization.
During the visit, I wore numerous hats: that of a seasoned public transit user and Chicago expert, tour guide, group facilitator, participant, student, and museum security guard as I attempted to keep the younger kids from unwittingly stumbling upon enormous and explicit pictures of artist Jeff Koons' sexual exploits at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
I was able to get to know the kids and what the availability of programming at Cabrini Connections means to them via chats under the infamous bean in Millennium Park, on the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, while wandering the North Side on a scavenger hunt and during the myriad activities organized by the Edgewood crew back at our center.
Throughout all this I was impressed by not only the kids' encyclopedic knowledge of Chicago, but the way they opened up to us all regardless of the differences in age and background, allowing us activists to gain a better understanding of their unique situations and struggles so that we might, through our individual interactions, gain a more comprehensive view of urban poverty and its many manifestations.

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