WCSC Student Blog

Archive for September, 2008

Jake King: City Living

September 23rd, 2008 – by Emily Benner

Jake King at the Zoo

I’m up at 8:00 nearly every morning and don’t get home until 6:30. I share a house with 13 other people (and only 2 other guys.) I bike ten miles to and from work every day. I babysit a three year old and a six year old three afternoons a week. I dodge traffic, dodge metro fairs and dodge homework until the last minute.I’m exhausted and exhilarated.

I didn’t have a wash cloth or soap for the first two weeks I was here. I can’t see the floor in my room because my unnamed roommate doesn’t use drawers or a laundry basket. There are two liquor stores within a block of each other near our house. I’m working at an organization trying to clean the 2nd trashiest river in the U.S…and it only has 14 full time employees. We walk under the single, creepiest overpass in the world to get to the metro station.

And it’s sweet.

We never know what time dinner will be in our enormous house: sometimes 6:30, sometimes 9:00. There are five tubs of sour cream in our fridge and seven gallons of milk hardly get us through half a week. Our compost pile almost overflowed the week after we arrived. There were 8 dirty cups perched around my room for more than a week. The kitchen trash goes out almost daily. I never thought I’d live in a house with a complaint box.

But it’s a necessity.

One of my housemates weeds forests and gets school credit for it. Another one saw a clerk fudge the numbers to allow a Spanish-speaking immigrant her citizenship. My roommate worked 15 hours straight and met the archbishop of the Washington, DC diocese. He also got punched in the head on his way home the other day and he never swung back. Even though there are three guys sharing a bathroom with one girl, she hasn’t found the toilet seat up once.

Everyone’s still civil.

It’s 60 degrees out and we still have our air conditioning on. One of my housemates sits on the back porch reading a book, even though I wouldn’t go out without a coat on. There’s a Guitar Hero marathon going on outside my bedroom and four participants are not participating, just watching. We don’t have grass in our back yard, just mulch, the biggest rosemary plant ever, and a tiny fishpond. All nine of our fish have names. There are eight bikes in our back room and only half of them are worth riding.

No one gives a rip.

During rush hour I make it home far faster than any car. It’s fun to give up your seat on the metro. The Barra Brava and their cheers/facepaints/flags are absolutely fantastic. There’s way more free stuff to do here than you ever imagined. 61% of campaign donations in our neighborhood went to Barack Obama. The streets are terrible in D.C. Our neighborhood has a fitness facility free to any DC residents. Even in American’s capital, you don’t have to talk politics.

We’re not in Harrisonburg anymore—and I love it.

-Jake King

Diana Terry Part 2

September 19th, 2008 – by Emily Benner

Diana Terry

My internship at DC Jobs with Justice is more than I could have ever asked for. They are seriously training me to be a community organizer. There is no administrative work or busy work. All the tasks they give me have a purpose to better serve the community. Right now I am organizing an on site ESL training for Spanish speaking day laborers on the corner of Home Depot where they gather to picked up by contractors for work each morning and rallying volunteers, so far I have 6!! I’m so excited.

Ruth, one of my supervisors, she takes me to protests and has taught me so much. I’m sure she wants to elbow me in the face sometime because I feel like I ask a “ba-zillion”
questions. I must add that after just a year at EMU in the JPCS program, I am honored to say how well equipped I feel “out in field”. The resources that I have gathered and the oppurtunities I took advantage of allows me to feel a certain level of comfort and confidence needed in this field. So thank you EMU for empowering me!

Diana Terry

September 11th, 2008 – by Emily Benner

My internship is at D.C. Jobs with Justice and so far it is amazing. I am assisting in organizing immigrant day laborers who hang out in the parking lot at the local Home Depot waiting for contractors to pick them up for jobs form a union and develop a worker task force center. The parking lot manager and Home Depot don’t appreciate their presence. Being from a Puerto Rican background, I understand Spanish fluently but speak minimally. I’m hoping to be fluent by the end of the semester. I will also assist in organizing and teach ESL classes, campaigning for worker rights, and community support and development.

I am taking two classes at Howard University, a highly respected and predominantly African American university. I am taking Seminars in Community Development and Public Art Inter-Media. My first experience alone on the Howard campus was a bit intimidating. I’m not used to being the minority to such a large degree but after walking through campus and sitting in the waiting room of the health center for three and a half hours, you tend to forget the color of your own skin. It’s a worrisome yet empowering feeling. On one hand you don’t want to lose your identity and on the other it is amazing not being the majority yet still being welcomed and accepted.

On my fourth day here, the entire house everyone had finally moved in and settled in the house. I was a bit overwhelmed after living by myself for the past year. I admit I may have cried myself to sleep that night but I’m learning to cope. I am learning that my housemates are also not out to get me but are all coping as well.