Thursday, December 10, 2015

Elevator Speech

My go-to, pre-rehersed, ready-to-go speech sounds a little something like this: 

Youth Development at RIC means many things. Whats awesome about YDEV is that it is a combination of social work, education, and non profit studies. In addition to that each student had a unique concentration. YDEV is one of the very few programs that you can tailor to fit your individual interest. From the very beginning of the program you work hands on with youth in a variety of settings. This allows you to determine the kind of youth worker you are and would like to be. The field work also lets you explore a multitude youth settings, allowing you have a diverse youth worker experience before you even leave RIC. 

The internship component prepares you for the "real world." Through internships you learn about grant writing, purposeful play, advocacy and more. Belonging to a cohort is another YDEV advantage. Everyone's unique internship and concentrtion creates an environment where collaboration and peer learning is constantly happening. According to This is Youth Work: Stories from Practice, "It will come about only if decision-makers, youth workers and young people enter into consistent, critical conversations with one another about what makes youth work tick. It will come about only if youth work is democratic through and through." This is the exact definition of what YDEV at RIC does from the moment we all begin to learn together. We critically think about what YDEV is and then take it into our field placement. We work with a high level of excellence and professionalism to ensure we are making long lasting changes in the live of youth. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

YDEV Open House

Over the past two years, my sense of pride in YDEV had grown. I began this program uncertain and doubtful. I wondered what kind of job I would end up with, if this was another major I would soon change, if this would finally be the degree to take me where I want to go.

The open house answered most of these questions for me. Dr. Bogad had asked us to remember our elevator speeches, to be prepared to talk about YDEV and what it means to us. As I drove to the event I felt extremely confident. " YDEV is the perfect combination of social work, education, non profit studies, and your area of interest. If you want to work with youth and really make a difference, this is the major for you."  I felt very robot-like as I repeated it to myself, but the more I thought about each of these components and what they mean to me personally, I felt extremely proud to be a YDEV senior.

At the event we (current YDEV students), we were able to piggy back off of each other's ideas and really depict what YDEV at RIC means to inquiring families. Some parents had questions that we hadn't really thought about like, " What makes this different from social work?" or "How does my child combine his/ her area of interest with this degree?" Having these conversations really helped me sort through my YDEV tool box and pull out all the right answers and realistic examples for them.

As I stood there I realized if I can market YDEV to peek someones interest in the program, then I can do the same for myself as a youth worker seeking employment. Everything we have done in class up until now all fell together at the open house. I am now more confident in my degree but also in myself.


I remember reading a book for Open Books, Open Minds, freshman year. I read it but then never participated in any group discussions or events based on the book. I was glad to see the OBOM is still a program on campus that not only is getting students to read but to also share experiences.

I would have to say my favorite story was about the mom who shot the boyfriend in the butt. Not only was it told well but it was funny. Women say things like " I'd kill him if he ever ..." but she actually did! Well, she didn't kill him but she sure did shoot him.

Through out the semester we have discussed telling our own story, co-authors, and single story telling. This particular story was a story the reader had been told herself. I wonder if the story has been altered in away to make it more appealing or interesting. I wonder if the reader has made it a single story that works best for her. Does she like and retell this story herself because this is the way she wants/ likes to think of her mother.

Everyone who shared their story was very brave. I appreciated their vulnerability and willingness to share different aspects of their lives. What made the event more interesting was the mixture of stories told. Some were sad, some where funny, some took you back into a different period of time, or a different place. I really enjoyed this event.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Resilient kids

I think resilient kids is a great example of what YDEV looks like in the classroom setting. I think their method of "seamlessly integrating stress management" is brilliant. We talk about YDEV ideally being achieved outside of the classroom, without limitations. Resilient kids seems to have found a practical and effective way to do bring YDEV into the classroom and to do so successfully.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Listen to THEIR Story

One of the first memories I have of stories being told about youth in this “single story” kind of manner was in a teacher’s lunchroom. I was sent to grab something off the copy machine for my teacher and just so happened to walk in on a group of teachers having lunch. I remember waiting for the copies to finish and the teachers talking about how horrible this one particular student was. I remember thinking to myself, “ Don’t they know his parents don’t care about him?” I don’t remember why I thought his parents didn’t care about him, but I remember feeling sad. I remember thinking to myself, “ This what teachers do? They talk about students and don’t even care to help?” Although the details of what they were saying are vague and the details of this boys life are as well, I will never forget this moment. Yes, he was a troublemaker, disruptive, and extremely annoying at times, but whom they were talking about in that lunchroom was not the same person… at least not to me.
Senior year in high school we were all given the assignment to write a narrative. It could be about anything we wanted. We were told to write as if though we were painting a picture, our words had to create images in the readers mind. It had been four years of growing relationships and long terms cliques. During the editing phase it was the first time I was able to read about someone outside of my “clique” and what he or she had been through. Someone who I had shared many classes and moments with, but never really knew. Despite my natural desire to read about people and know their stories, I was blown away by what people were willing to share, and how they told their story. I was now the teacher in the lunchroom just that the student being talked about, was now able to speak for themselves.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Contextual Mapping

In my words, context mapping is an organization of the different areas in one's life, and the people/ roles associated with each defined area.

Mitch and Julian Created a context map of Julian's life. Trough their conversations Julian was able to understand each one individually and how they interact with each other , and how those interactions whether isolated or combined are okay.

My Narrative

After you list the ten people, pick one of them (caring, indifferent or antagonistic) and write about how s/he has helped you write your story.

Mrs. Hicks (5th grade resource teacher) 
Mrs. Raegan (8th grade science teacher)
Dr. Mama
Marisol (Lieani’s Grandmother)
Lieani (Daughter)
Bogad  (College advisor)
Ms. A  (high school English Teacher)
Sarah Torrey

In the 5th grade it was apart of our morning routine to write in our journals for 20 minutes a day. This was the first time I had been exposed to creative writing and told that what I had to say mattered. There was a boy in my class room from Nigeria who had a resource teacher assigned to him that would be in the classroom with him at all times. Although I do not remember how, I was the student in the classroom assigned to helping Mrs. Hicks with the boy.  Mrs. Hicks would give instructions, and I would model how to solve a math problem or how to construct a sentence with all the proper elements. Although Mrs. Hicks was in the classroom specifically to help him, she would help Mr. Decamp read and grade our journals as well.
When working outside of the classroom Mrs. Hicks would ask me questions about my writing and the things I write about. Soon those conversations became more about the way I was dealing with my world outside of the classroom and less about the academic aspect.
This was the first time someone took the time to care about my struggles and me. I felt that even as a fifth grader my world was too complicated or complex for my peers to understand or relate to me, I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Mrs. Hicks helped me to understand that the things happening to me weren’t my fault and although I was just a fifth grader, there were things I could do about it. 

Mrs. Hick’s interest in my writing and personal life was the start of my self-advocacy. That is when I began to use my voice and understand its power. It was also the first time my opinion, thoughts, and feeling were validated. Mrs. Hicks not only helped me write my narrative in a literal sense, but also for the rest of my life. She provoked a loud voice in me that is still heard today.