Christine Pappas ’14 is a Community Fellow with Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment (BRYTE), an organization that pairs Brown undergraduate tutors with students in refugee families that have recently relocated to Providence from Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
Alice, the 4th grader from Burundi who I tutor every week, is sitting on her living room floor, racing through her math homework. I am sitting next to her, trying to match her pace as I double check for errors. Alice is a great student, and math is her favorite subject. She has practiced these skills – times tables, carrying digits, story problems – and her confidence shows on her report card and her smiling face.
As TRI-Lab moves into the project development stage, Natalie Posever ’14 reflects on the “Pre to Three” group’s process to date. Note: this has been re-posted from the TRI-Lab blog; follow along for more updates from students participating in this exciting new initiative!
The electronic medical records system at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, eClinicalWorks, has always been a mystery to me. During my time volunteering in the pediatric primary care clinic, I sit and watch the computer screen as names switch places, don bright blue highlights, and get numbers and codes tacked on next to them, all in a seemingly random fashion. As I study the display I try to block out the carefully choreographed dance; what most interests me is the numbers that sporadically appear under the column titled, “room,” indicating where I can go to give out our screening form. There are more than enough patients to keep me occupied, as I frantically speed shuffle (no running!) from one end of the clinic to the other. It’s not until the end of my shift when I sit back down to tally the number of screens handed out, that the names fall into place long enough to expose the blank spaces marking the names of patients who never came to their appointment. Lots of spaces, each one representing a child.
Jana Foxe ’16 is a Community Fellow with Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE), which provides a structured opportunity for students to work with homeless populations and to engage in related advocacy efforts.
I had one main experience in my adolescence that led me to work with the homeless.
When I was 15, I accompanied a family friend on a Friday night car trip around my hometown of Dublin, Ireland. At the same time every week, she drove around to about 10 major supermarkets in the city at their closing time, collecting all of the day-old bread she could find (with the manager’s permission, of course), and squeezed all baked goods she could into massive garbage bags. We fit all the bags she could into the trunk of her car and, when there was no more room, we sprawled them over our laps and in between seats. We shuttled all this food to shelters across town, and the staff were so grateful, because it was so badly needed. She told me the importance of thinking of those who are desperate, hungry, and have no place to go, and while it would be difficult to disagree with that, it truly struck a nerve with me that in my city, in my country, at this present moment there are people who are starving on our streets. In a society as wealthy as my own, my fellow citizens must live off the generosity of others, or not live at all.
Rick Benjamin, poet laureate of the State of Rhode Island, is a community artist who currently practices art-making and learning at Brown (Environmental Studies & Public Humanities), RISD (Literary Arts), Goddard College (in their MFA program in Interdisciplinary Arts), and in many other learning communities in and around Providence. He is involved with the Engaged Scholars Initiative, a Swearer Center initiative that celebrates faculty and students who seek a purposeful integration of teaching, research and practice, with a goal of advancing scholarship and producing a public benefit.
Where I am writing this I can see the Japanese maple in full flower, at least in autumn: red leaves blooming out some short-lived fire. I am sitting in a house that has so many windows in it that it’s hard not to find some light somewhere on a Sunday afternoon. There is a lot of glass in that statement, and I do like spinning glass, which reminds me that our own lives, as if at the ends of blow-pipes, are also always in a state of becoming. It is hard to talk about my community practice without first noticing and naming things, and also placing myself in this particular moment.
Knowing my place is at the heart of any of my impulses toward community building, whether through art or the humanities or some thinking about ecological addresses. We need to know where we stand or sit or, as Mary Oliver might say, fall down into the grass. At the same time, everything changes from moment to moment. We are all of us always in flux: writing always brings me closest to this essential truth, but so does any interaction I have that involves building relationships in community with others.
Mai Nguyen is an Advisor in the College Advising Corps, an organization that seeks to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college and underrepresented students who enter and complete higher education. Mai and eleven other recent college graduates work full-time as College Advisors in public high schools around Rhode Island.
Within the first week of my arrival at Tolman High School, they tentatively knocked at my office door unsure if I was the “college person” with the college answers. Upon confirmation, they trickled through with questions.
Miss! Where should I apply? What’s the best school? How do I get money? Who’s my guidance counselor? What’s a GPA? What do I need? When should I start? I have a child, what are my options?
After two weeks, they barged in with statements.
Mai! I need an SAT waiver. I am failing AP English. I don’t have any money. CommonApp is confusing. I am going to the University of Rochester. I have nothing to write about. I didn’t know I needed the subject tests. I am bringing my GPA up to a 4.0 this semester.
Elizabeth Stanfield ’16 is a Community Fellow with the Swearer Classroom Program, which provides struggling D’Abate students in grades K-5 with individualized attention and in-depth focus on reading and writing.
The Swearer Classroom Program marks my initiation into the real world of elementary school education. I came into Brown as a wide-eyed freshman eager to get involved in community service – a desire sparked primarily by my heavy involvement with a church-sponsored summer program that provided meals and activities for neighborhood children.
Room 101, however, taught me that the academic year presents challenges much greater than finishing a house made of toothpicks and marshmallows. I learned very quickly in Mrs. Molho’s classroom that elementary school students are responsible for so much more learning than I ever remembered. Working with a small group of three or four students, I came to realize how impossibly tricky many of their tasks are – reading in particular – through the endless minutes spent reading the same page.
Renata Matin ’14.5 is an Access Scholar with the College Advising Corps, working on individual and group SAT preparation, essay writing, and financial aid programming with Providence high school students.
A couple hours a week I attend Hope High School’s “Future Forward” program and assist students with their college applications. Future Forward was started by two counselors at Hope HS in the hopes that more students would apply to college if given the space to ask questions and work on applications.
“So Rosa, tell me about yourself. What are your dreams and what has your experience been like at Hope? You can tell me anything about yourself that you would like to share.” Rosa looked scared, but I saw something in her that told me she wanted to share something. “Rosa you can tell me anything you want or if you would just like to talk about college, we can do that, too.” She looked at me and said, “I can’t go to college. I don’t have my papers.”