Check out Charmaine’s blog she is keeping while studying in DC: http://mennointhemetro.wordpress.com/
Archive for June, 2012
“Estamos aquí, seguimos luchando.” “We are here, we are still fighting.” I often received this response from clients at my internship after I asked them “How are you?” Life for undocumented Latino immigrant is not easy. I learned this through the experiences of the people I met at my internship at CASA de Maryland. I remember one particular woman, who came to me for help with her W-7 form as part of Individual Tax Identification Number application, who said “People think we come here to steal, but all we want is to have a good life.” A good life. U.S. society and systems does virtually nothing to help this population have a good life. Generally speaking, this group of peoples faces challenges daily that span from a lack of education, poor housing conditions, no health care, wage theft, poverty and more. Yet throughout my time here, I was continually amazed at the resiliency of the undocumented population. They find hope in community and they support each other. They accept small act of kindness and respond with large expressions of thankfulness. Laughter and humor is cherished. Every day is a fight for life, for work, for rights and for freedom from discrimination.
Another semester has passed with ups and downs, learning and challenges. The difference is this time I was in Washington DC, living with 8 other people and going to an internship that was almost like a full-time job… and it was great. I learned a lot about myself, my values and lenses, as well as utilized many Social Work skills that I’ve learned about these past four years. I developed wonderful relationships with my coworkers and began learning to relate to students whose lives have been very different from my own. All in all, this was an amazing semester and maybe I would have done some things differently, had I a second chance, but wouldn’t we all?…
I really enjoyed experiencing a different culture in the city. Living in the city gave me a firsthand experience to the social issues DC is experiencing. I did not previously know about the extent of income differentials within the city. In my hometown, I could not see much variance between the rich and the poor but walking around the city for one day, the difference is obvious. On the exact same street, you could see homeless people begging for change while every other car that passes it seems is a BMW. This problem doesn’t look like it will be solved anytime soon either. I did not see any personal connection between the poor and the rich being made throughout the semester. Both sides kept to themselves and stayed out of each other’s way. If you want to get an eyewitness account of the real DC, the WCSC program is for you.
I would LOVE to do this whole semester over again, I had the time of my life!!! To me this has been a escape from reality, here in DC I have found direction in myself and have seen a glimpse of what I am capable of. The chance to meet so many new people gives me confidence that I can make relationships with people everywhere I go in life. My internship was such a blessing…the WCSC program changed my life and I will always look back on this experience with wonderful memories and feelings!!
Ride, walk, taste, see, feel, breath, encounter, grow. The bustle and excitement of the city life can’t be described with words, but rather must be experienced. Beneath the surface there are many layers to be stripped away. On the top, there are the elite that hold the power to make decisions and own the most expensive homes. At the core are the other 99% as the Occupy DC movement would aptly call them, those who don’t have these privileges. In between, is a gap. A gap that is growing and expanding, making those on either end less human to the other. The inequality expands beyond that of income. There are also divides based on race, gender, and upbringing. But there are also bridges. One connector I found during my semester was through my work in a nonprofit. Interning at The Family Place in Mt. Pleasant, I was challenged daily by my own experiences and those of the participants in the agency. Primarily working with undocumented immigrant mothers and their young children through family literacy, stability, and family wellness models, I was challenged to explore ways to live in community with those of a completely different background than my own. I attempted to speak their language, explore their cultures, navigate the often penal system, and embrace their children. In the everyday moments I was able to build relationships and begin the work to break down barriers.
This summer 14 students are living in the WCSC house, and they’re just wrapping up the 3rd of 10 weeks! Internships this summer include:
Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum
Torture Abolition and Survivors’ Support Coalition
Street Sense Newspaper
Bread for the World
DC Jobs with Justice
Little Friends for Peace
Carla Freed Studios (Photography)
Community IT Innovators
USO of Metropolitan Washington
Capital Area Food Bank
YMCA Social Work