This video includes some tidbits of our summer experience with the WCSC program. This is by no means a comprehensive display of the summer – missing are some valuable experiences like visiting Ben’s Chili Bowl, numerous museums, our seminar classes, ascending the Washington Monument, and much more.
Despite not being a cumulative representation of the summer, we hope you enjoy the moments we did capture!
5 WCSC students + 2 Mennonite hymnals + the Chinatown Metro stop at rush hour = $28 and a great time!
This week after seminar on Wednesday afternoon, several of us (Kelly, Sarah, Mike Bruner, Steven and I) decided to go busking — making music on the streets for money. We had sung a few hymns together over the weekend, and thought it would be fun to see if we could get paid for it!
So we staked out the perfect spot, under an awning over the entrance to the Chinatown Metro, a popular stop at rush hour. The five of us stood in an arc next to the escalators, hesitating and nervous at first, but eventually we all got into the music. After a song or two we put out a hat and slowly started getting dollars and change from passersby. We sang popular hymns like “Amazing Grace” and “Be Thou My Vision” as well as more upbeat songs like “Hamba Nathi” and “Over My Head” from Sing the Journey. The most popular ones were those we knew by memory, as we were able to engage better with our passing audience.
A number of people said things like, “God bless you,” as they passed, and many smiled and thanked us as well. After an hour and a half of singing, we collected our $28.23 and treated ourselves to frozen yogurt from Tangysweet! It was a successful and fun experience overall, and we hope to do it again sometime!
One fine weekend a little earlier this summer, those of us hanging around the WCSC house decided to take a trip to Mt. Vernon, the home of our first President. After watching a short film on Washington’s life, we wandered the expansive grounds, which included everything from gardens to a wharf to a dung repository.
part of the group with the greatly esteemed Dung Repository (click for more photos)
The afternoon visit proved a pleasant (albeit warm) historical experience, and a good way to get out of the house.
Every day, I leave my internship at 424 C St. NE around 5 pm. I walk for about a half a mile down Massachusetts Ave. toward Union Station. The people I pass are always alone and overwhelmingly white. Most are dressed to a tee in power suits, heels and designer sunglasses. They often are disconnected from the world they pass through. Many talk on cell phones or listen to music, unaware of the homeless woman asleep on the bench or the security guards they pass by every day.
However, as soon as I pop off the Brookland metro, everything is different. I am now the minority. African-Americans surround me. Many people are out and about enjoying the summer evening with a son, daughter, husband or grandmother. I say hello to older adults, enjoying the breeze on their 10th St. porches and those I pass on the sidewalk smile at me. I have become especially attached to an elderly gentleman I’ve passed twice coming off the metro. He walks with a cane and his dentures come loose when he says hello. I hope to see him again so I can slow to his pace and have a real conversation with him.
I shouldn’t be surprised by this incredible contrast. Kim warned us about the difference between white Washington and black DC, but it still saddens me. I have to admit, though, I’m playing right into this dichotomy. I conform to the standard of those around me. On Massachussetts Ave, I am in my own world. On 10th St., I am part of the community around me. I wonder, is there a way to bring these two different realities together? Can we learn from each other and erase the disconnect that is Washington, DC? I hope so. Let’s see if I can be an agent of that change, however small, in my time here.
“Near the Columbia Heights metro station I saw a man who’s legs were laying in the middle of the street. I was tired and had my ipod in and wouldn’t have seen him except that a couple people around me were looking at him worriedly. They ended up deciding it was okay but I was worried and went over to just ask him to move his legs out of the street so they wouldn’t be smashed. I wasn’t sure if he was drunk or just exhausted. When I asked him to move his legs he looked up and whimpered “Help me!”. I had only planned on making sure he was out of physical harm but suddenly that seemed cruel so I said “Ok, I’ll help” and I brought him into Panda Express and helped him eat some food. He had just come out of the hospital. His name was Bill, he tearfully told me his whole family was dead, he was old and frail but assured me he could do construction work. He didn’t finish his whole meal and eventually left to ostensibly go sleep in a shelter. I have no idea if he ever got there. I think about Bill frequently now. I think about him vis a vis DC cutting it’s social safety nets, or health care or all these issues where we’re talking about the “poor” and “less fortunate”. It’s easy to get caught in abstractions but Bill is a real person and he’s not dispensable.” -Anonymous response on spring semester student survey
During seminar on Wednesday, each student gave an update on their internship experience so far.
Grace: Peace Activist, Colman McCarthy – Colman arrived late to teach his inner city high school peace class, so Grace jumped up and started engaging them in a discussion about their passions.
Fetsum: Asian American LEAD (after-school program) – One of his students rejected the other intern’s offer to check his homework because, he said, “Mr. Fetsum is a teacher.”
Christa: Teen Center at LAYC: Helped with tutoring, made fliers and PowerPoints for the teen center programs this week.
Andrew: Community IT Innovators – 5 servers went down in one day, so Andrew got to observe his coworkers handling some tricky public relations situations.
Jasmine: Capitol Hill Group Ministry – “I learned how to give a surprise drug test.” Jasmine made a bunch of home visits to families and individuals with HIV, mental illness, and/or substance abuse problems.
Bryan: Servant-Leadership School – About 40 people showed up for the opening of the 2010 Servant Leadership classes, including EMU grad Rebeca Barge and other DC volunteers.
Sanjay: Promotores (Mentorship) Program of LAYC – One of the kids receiving services is preparing to go to jail for the next year. On Friday Sanj has been invited to participate in a conference on gang violence.
Lindsay: American National Standards Institute – Lindsay has been updating a Wiki about trade in China and India and polishing the Chinese-English translation of an important report.
Jess: Interfaith Immigration Coalition – She finds herself comparing this internship to her previous internship experience. She feels she’s making a more significant contribution, but the work itself is more mundane.
Corrie: DC Rape Crisis Center – Helped to run a Women’s Power group–the highlight of her internship so far.
Monday morning.I look at my phone: 8:07.I stand on the curb, waiting, looking anxiously down the road.Sigh.I look at my phone again: 8:13.I send another glance back down the road.Still nothing.Five minutes later I hear its brakes and sure enough the trusty H8 bus is making its way towards me.
As the door swings open I make my up the steps and scan my card, flashing the bus driver a smile and returning his friendly “good morning.”I make my way down the aisle as the bus takes off and I take a seat next to a young woman with headphones on.
In a matter of minutes the bus pulls over at Second Street to pick up three African American girls on their way to school.They giggle and whisper among themselves as they scramble onto the bus, sometimes catching the eyes of some young men seated in the back.
A few minutes later, the bus stops for a young Latin American father with his five year old daughter.She shyly holds his hand as they make their way onto the bus.He bends down to adjust her pink book bag and little braided pigtails.The father waves and smiles as he sees some familiar faces.He finds a seat and begins a conversation in Spanish.
The bus begins to fill up.An older African American lady climbs aboard, adorned with her brightly colored jewelry and scrubs.A young Latin American mother climbs on with her two year old son who gurgles and smiles as they take a seat.A middle aged African American man makes his way aboard, headphones in ears and briefcase in hand.
These are the regulars on the H8 bus.Rain or shine, warm or cold, they are all here, each with their own story.As I see and smile at all the familiar faces I can’t help but wonder what’s really behind those eyes.What families do these people go home to?What jobs do they have?What are their fears, hopes, and dreams?Perhaps I will never know, or perhaps I may one day find the answers as we ride on the H8 bus.