June 29th, 2012 – by Emily Benner
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.