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.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Color Brave!

Have you ever felt invisible?
I don’t think there has ever been a time where I felt invisible in a group setting. If anything, I have always felt that I painfully stand out. I remember my second semester at RIC we watched a film and one of the questions was “ What did you think about the culture in the film?” I answered the question honestly, without hesitation. By the time I was done answering the question, the room was in an up roar, and everyone in the class had their hand up eager to disagree. I immediately realized two things, I was the only “Spanish” girl in the class, and I had just made all the “ White” people mad.    

Do Hobson or Nayyrah Waheed help you think about visibility in any new ways?  Be specific in naming and explaining their arguments, and then relate their words to your own life history.  
Due to my very many years at RIC, I have been able to whiteness a shift in the way conversations around race, and diversity have changed. I am extremely grateful for professors on campus who are color brave and are willing to host discussions around race and personal experience associated with race in their classrooms. Hobson and Waheed didn’t help me think of visibility in a new way, but Hobson did a great job in explaining why it is important to be proactive, and the long-term consequences of our actions. Referring to my example above, just as the students in the classroom didn’t understand my point of view based on my culture and personal experiences, color blindness tolerates that separation. Color blindness allows people to see you as human but does not accept your experiences as real, relevant, or of value.

How might a youth space like YIA — where youth “share their stories, practice leadership and create change in their communities” — be an antidote to invisibility?
A youth setting like YIA is an antidote to invisibility in many ways. Hobson mentions talking issues around race head on, YIA does that through hosting conversations around difficult topics, putting youth in the forefront to advocate for themselves and what they believe, and by simply raising awareness amongst their peers and in the community. YIA creates individual change agents.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Critical Youth Development

Critical Youth Development

Assuming that the YD ideology inventory was done correctly, I identify with critical youth development most. The orientation of this horoscope is, "a focus on how youth engage with and impact their communities and cultures." I strongly agree with the results of the inventory.I believe that if youth know how to critically think and understand the situations they find themselves in, combined with their strengths and resources, they are able to prevent/ avoid situations they do not want to find themselves in. Therefore, prevention because a natural reaction/ mechanism.

The second category I most identified with was positive youth development. The orientation of this outcome supports my initial idea even more. The orientation of this horoscope is, "a focus fostering strengths and positive growth also helps prevent negative outcomes."Above I mention that critical thinking will enable youth to prevent/ avoid situations they would not like to find themselves in, based on this perspective, critical think would be the strength and would prevent negative outcomes.

I am comfortable with the fact that risk, residency, and prevention was the horoscope that I least identified with. Based on personal experiences, I feel that youth do not respond well to adults assuming that they can not make good choices for themselves, or when they are treated like their judgement isn't good enough. I maybe completely wrong but that is something I would hate to put someone through and like to avoid.

Overall I enjoyed this inventory. It allowed me to understand more about myself and understand other approaches. Although I may not identify as strongly with one, I can see how that perspective is still effective and at times necessary.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

YIA: A World Where Youth Hold the Power

It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I finally had a teacher that forced us to think critically and challenged us to question the rules in our school and the content we were being taught. I remember her asking us all the time, " So what are you going to DO about it?" Whenever we would complain about other teachers or didn't like what the guidance counselor said, she would ask us that question. I appreciate her genuine interest in how we felt and thought about the world happening to us but more importantly, that she would make us do something about it.
The youth at Youth In Action are very fortunate that they get to expose to their own voice at an early age and that they are encouraged to use it. I love how they are encouraged to debate, discuss, and defend what they believe in. It’s an intellectual process that forces them to stand up for what they believe in based on personal conviction. The debates they have break down ideas, beliefs, and customs that have been forced upon them, and allows them to reconstruct them in a way that is true to who they really are at their core.
YIA models the notion “with, not to” in many ways. From the youth being active members of the board of directors, down to heated conversations about controversial topics. All the testimonials that came from the adults involved at YIA reflected their growth and the impact the youth have had on them. This shows that they too are apart of that personal reconstruction process. By letting the youth run most of the program, YIA is a living illustration of the notion “with not to.” The students all, in some way, mentioned being stripped of a voice, feeling like what happened in the classroom didn’t encourage critical thinking or have room for their authentic thoughts. At YIA those authentic thoughts are encouraged, empowered, and brought to life through the youth’s actions.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Youth Work: Preparation for Practice

The seven characteristics of youth work are: Youth work is an educational practice, Youth work is a social practice, Youth workers challenge inequality and work towards social justice, Where possible, young people choose to be involved, Youth work seeks to strengthen young people to influence the environment in which they live, Youth work is a welfare practice, and Youth work works with young people holistically.
            The seven characteristics show the different roles a youth worker plays, and explains how a profession that “works with young people because they are young” involves many aspects of the youth’s lives. An example of youth work as an educational practice is TALL U. Elizabeth would purposefully intervene; enable young people to think, feel, and act differently towards their social world. Their performance to the song Glory, portrayed their understanding of the social dilemmas the world around them is currently facing.
Youth work is a social practice that allows youth to work with others to “ nurture collective association”. The youth get to learning about social behaviors, expectations, and challenges from each other. It becomes a co-dependent social practice.
An example of youth workers challenging inequality and working towards social justice would be when advisor from the MET high school joined their students in the police brutality and black lives matter protest. The advisors understood the impact Mike Brown’s death had on their students and instead of just speaking about in the classroom, they physically joined them in the fight. Going out there with the students “ promoted social justice for young people and society in general.” This example also fit for the characteristic that where possible, young people choose to be involved. Just as the advisors made a conscience decision to protest so did the students. It was a “ voluntary attendance.” This was the extent to which they chose to shape an encounter that was important to them. 
Youth work as a welfare practice is “ work with young people experiencing greater needs or in areas of higher deprivation.” Most of the time this characteristic is addressed when an organizations sole purpose is to solve the problem. For example the WIC program that aims to provide families with young children with healthy food options and nutritional supplements. Although that is the main goal of WIC it also helps low-income family have access to free food. WIC does a good job at serving more than one purpose while trying to solve one problem.
Ultimately youth workers aim to “ encourage and enable young people to influence the environment in which they live” this is best achieved when youth workers work with young people holistically. It is the passion and ability to identify with youth that drives youth workers to make a difference and empower young people. These seven characteristics simplify youth work in a way that allows people to understand the many functions of youth development.