WCSC Student Blog

Slam Poetry (Megan Grove)

September 14th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

Screaming on Paper

Megan Grove

The shy young man approached the stage, power in his stance, focus on his face, and fire in his gaze.  Approaching the microphone he let out a powerful scream: “I’m screaming on paper!  I said, I’m screaming on paper!”  His intense declaration was shared by all twelve contestants at the Busboys and Poets poetry slam on Friday night.  These poets were releasing their innermost passions by screaming on paper through their poetry.

Since I had never been to a poetry slam before I had no idea what to expect.  The line outside the building was long and tickets were in high demand but I was able to purchase one of the last tickets just in time.  The concert room in the back of Busboys and Poets was packed- each table, chair, booth, and couch filled to capacity.  The energy in the room could be felt even before the poets began.

Each poet had three minutes to deliver their original poetry.  I was blown away by the power and passion in each poet’s voice and body.  Topics ranged from God to sex to relationships to hate to racism and nearly everything in between.  Some poems were filled with humor and the audience would burst into uncontrolled laughter.  Others were so intense with emotion that audience members would nod their heads or clap their hands in affirmation.  Several times I felt goose bumps on my arms because of the intensity of the performers.

After each poet’s time was up, five judges, chosen at random, would score the poets on a scale from one to ten: one being the worst and ten being the best.  For every good score, the audience would applaud and cheer and for every bad score the audience would “boo” their disapproval.  The five highest scoring poets would advance to the second round where the top three scoring poets would be declared the winners.

I was lucky enough to be squeezed into a table with five of the performers, three of whom won the slam.  These five men were not professional performers, not well known artists.  Some were college students, one was in high school.  One was from Trinidad, one from Virginia, three from D.C.  But they had one thing in common: they were ordinary people, making a difference through the written word.

I was so inspired by each of their stories that I started thinking that perhaps I could one day perform poetry myself.  Perhaps I could make an impact on someone’s life the way they had impacted mine.  Perhaps one day I could have the courage to scream on paper.

Kiya! It’s An Attack! Call The Cops! (Megan Grove)

September 8th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

My first classroom experience at WCSC was far from the “normal” first day routine. As I sat in a circle with my classmates, pondering what I was about to learn, a short, sweet lady walked in and introduced the lesson for the day: self defense. Little did I know the lessons I was about to learn were like nothing I’d ever learned before and this “short, sweet” lady would be one of the strongest women I have met.

Marty Langelan began the class with discussing the first step to self-defense: getting to know your community. This small and often overlooked step is one of the most crucial. “Do you wanna know who will have your back in a tough situation? Joe from down the street and Mrs. Maguillicutty from next door, that’s who. Make friends with your community, they’re your first line of defense, “ Langelan stresses.

The second step is observing your surroundings. Langelan encouraged us to always have a ten-foot circle of awareness around us. “You should be able to name three things about every person that walks by you,” Langelan explains. “Give it about a week and you’ll feel a big weight lifted off your shoulders because your awareness will be much greater. “

The topic of sexual harassment proved to be one of the most serious but also one of the most entertaining. “When you’re walkin’ down the street and you hear those guys on the corner yellin’ ‘Ooo hey baby, mmm come and get some,’ here’s what you need to say: Stop harassing women, I don’t like it, no one likes it. Show some respect.” These simple but powerful words have been proven to work time and again by Marty and her self-defense team.

And if simple words don’t stop an attacker, Marty’s self defense moves will. The five-foot, several inches tall Langelan has been able to throw a 400-pound man twelve feet. Yes twelve feet. But Marty doesn’t believe in any more violence than necessary. “Do what you need to do to get away. You don’t need to pommel the attacker into the ground.”

This brings me to Marty’s second phrase of powerful words. “I don’t know why we are told to yell ‘Help!’ when we are in danger. Help is one of the weakest words in the English dictionary,” Marty exclaims. Instead she encouraged us to use these simple words: Kiya! It’s an attack! Call the cops! Why this particular phrase? The strong consonants allow your plea for help to be heard more clearly.

Marty’s knowledge and expertise on self-dense are endless: what I have touched on are just the tip of the iceberg. Not only did we learn practical defense tips for everyday life, but we were also blessed with knowledge from one of the most inspiring and influential women in self-defense training today.

Whitney Removes Surgical Staples!

August 7th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

I have one really great experience during my last week at my internship. One of the friendlier doctors walked up to me and asked if I would like to take out staples! Of course, I jumped at the chance to do something new and exciting. He told me that I would be removing about thirty staples on a patient that had hip replacement surgery. He also told me that he would come get me when the staples were ready to come out. A few hours later, the doctor told me that the patient was ready. He showed me how to take one of the staples out and he said that the rest I would take out on my own. The really cool part is that taking staples out of someone’s leg is just like taking staples of paper. I took the staples out one by one; it took me about five minutes. Then I put steri-strips over the patient’s incision. This was a really great experience; I am so glad that I was able to do it.

Whitney’s Reflections after Learning about WCSC Founder, Nelson Good

August 7th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

Long After I’m Gone by Deborah Good with Nelson Good was a memoir about

the life of Nelson Good and how it was interpreted by his daughter, Deborah. This book was very interesting because it helped me learn more about the Washington Community Scholars Center and the Rolling Ridge Retreat Center. This book really helped me to appreciate the program more. Before reading his book, I was not aware of whom Nelson Good really was, and I feel that his opened my eyes to parts of his life. I especially liked the part where it talks about the Rolling Ridge Retreat Center and all of the work that Nelson put into this program. I also really enjoyed reading about the WSSY/WCSC program and how it all started by a small idea that Nelson had and how it has grown into a full and thriving program. It makes me appreciate this house that we live in more and the things that we are studying in class.

Whitney Hinshaw Practices Spanish at National Rehab Hospital

August 7th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

Today, I had a patient who was a below the knee amputee. He was from Mexico and his main language was Spanish. However, he is also pretty good at speaking English. While, I was helping change his dressing on his leg, he asked me if I knew any Spanish. I told him that I knew a little and he began saying some things in Spanish. Surprisingly, I understood some of the things he was saying and responded back to him. We had a little conversation in Spanish and that completely changed his mood. He started smiling and laughing. I think it was comforting for him to hear some Spanish and I am glad to know that I made his day a little better.

City living is going really well also. On Monday, the house went out to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant. It was really fun because we all were able to bond and hang out. Although the food wasn’t that great, the company was!

I also really enjoyed the retreat. At first, I was skeptical of how this would help bond the house together. However, I feel that we all have grown together and really strengthened our relationships. Plus, the retreat was really fun. I enjoyed being away from the city for the weekend and doing outdoor activities.

Rob Alderfer Bumps into Nancy Pelosi (Interning at Faith & Politics Institute)

August 7th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

This past Friday I was able to attend the all day board meeting that takes place twice each year. This was a great experience and I like several aspects. The first was just getting to enjoy the Capitol building early in the morning while some familiar faces came in to work. While I was manning my post, waiting for board members to lead on to our designated room, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked right past me with her secret service detail. I don’t get star struck in D.C., but I did text my Mom right away because she likes to hear about that sort of thing. The actual meeting was dry sometimes and more interesting at other points. I sat a few seats away from U.S. Ambassador Thomas Graham, who I appreciate on more than one level. His work is primarily with nuclear non-proliferation, and he was involved with the SALT Treaty and SMART and SMART II after the Cold War. He also has a quick, dry wit, and doesn’t spend much time on picking apart the boring details of the Institute. I decided that I like his style.

Highlights from Capitol Hill: Will Morris

August 7th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

Interning was a little more interesting this past week. I still sorted plenty of mail and answered lots of phones, but I also had more briefing opportunities. The first opportunity was the result of an error; I had lost my badge earlier in the week and on Monday went to ID Services to get a temporary one, since I was going to attend a briefing in the Capitol building that required an ID to get in. I found out later that they don’t issue interns temporary IDs, but the guy at the desk forgot to check and issued me a staff ID. Armed with this greater source of power, I returned to the office where our Legislative Director sent me to (what I found out afterwards was) a last minute Chiefs of Staff/LD only briefing in the House Majority Leader’s office.

It was boring briefing (probably why I was sent) on appropriations procedure for freshman Democratic congressmen’s offices, but I still felt privileged to be there. I just stayed real quiet, took good notes, and minded my own business so no one would confront me and it worked.

I also went to two other briefings, one on “Quality of Life and Palliative Care” and the other on “Challenges of Venture Capital Investment and Economic Development in Rural Communities.” They were slightly more interesting than the first.

There were three other events of note this week. The first concerned Rahm Emanuel calling our office out of the blue for Congressman Perriello, who happened to be out of the office. We were all somewhat flustered and star-struck that he would call our humble office personally. The second interesting thing was Congressman Perriello appearing on TV during an MSNBC interview Monday morning. He did well, and we all laughed at how the Republican pundit sitting to his right seemed to be “fawning,” in the words of an intra-office email, over the Congressman.

The last event of note happened when I went to the soup kitchen for lunch yesterday; I randomly ran into the very first BVSer at the soup kitchen from when it started in the late 1970s, who also coincidently went to college with my father and an uncle.

Jason Godshall’s Adventure-Filled Family Visit!

August 7th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

Friday and Saturday my family was visiting me from Pennsylvania. They went to the National Zoo while I was at work then I met up with them after I was finished. We ended up going to Georgetown for dinner to Bangkok Bistro, a Thai restaurant that did not impress anyone from my family.

On Saturday we started the day off by heading down to the Aquatic Gardens. My dad and brother enjoy gardening and keeping our fish pond in our backyard so the Aquatic Gardens were right up their alley. A little after we arrive it started to rain, then pour, and then thunder and lightning. One lightning strike was extremely close, so close that my whole family and another nearby family all felt shocks on our fingers and backs from the lightning. That was a scary experience; I had never felt that in my life.

Next on the itinerary was the Corcoran Gallery which happened to be free that Saturday! On our way to the Corcoran we stopped in front of the White House which was a very hopping area full of tourists taking pictures. I am not sure but at one point the police made everyone get off of the side walk and they closed it down. As they were doing so we saw security and possibly snipers appear on the lawn and the roof. Soon the sidewalk open again a new group of tourists gathered.

There was a really interesting expedition on display at the Corcoran called Systematic Landscapes. This expedition was made up of multiple sculptures of hills and bodies of water, some made out of layers or plywood, some made out of two by fours, and some made out of wire.

My parents were very impressed with Eatonville and greatly enjoyed the food and the service. I was fortunate to have Andy Shallal, the owner, in the restaurant so I could have him meet my parents.

Learning the Restaurant Trade: Jason Godshall

August 7th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

I finally started a new job this week. I am now an Expo and a food-runner. Last week I did this for a day and really liked it. It is a job that does not get very boring. The Expo is the line of communication between the staff in the front of the restaurant, food runners and servers, and the staff in the back of the restaurant, food-prep and cooks. The Expo also tells the food runners where to take which plates of food which can get extremely hectic when the restaurant is full of customers. So far I have really enjoyed being the Expo and also a food-runner. I am a person that enjoys staying busy, I do not like standing around with nothing to do, which is what I did a lot while the host.

Matt Gillis, photography intern for DC United soccer team and Washington Life Magazine

August 7th, 2009 – by Emily Benner

My photos from this weekend were a success.  Everyone in the office says “good job” and “I like your photos” as I walk down the halls.  I have shot a few photos that will work for one of our promo ideas.  At the end of June, I will be able to go around town with a few of the players. I am catching all of the important moments of the game and my sports photos are improving every game. I don’t feel out of place down on the field and I am comfortable shooting everything. I shot trainings and community events this week. A bunch of players went to the Children’s Hospital and signed balls and visited with the children. I got good photos to document it as well as the children really enjoying the players’ company. While I was at the hospital, one of the main web editors was saying how my photos were good, and that the budget is down, but next year when the budget goes back up they want to hire a photographer. I hope that I would get the job offer if they are looking for a full-time photographer.

I went to shoot an event with Washington Life this week. There were a few of the judges there, and some famous people. I went around and shot photos of people from the event. I am realizing I really don’t like the style of shooting for Washington Life Magazine. There is no creative style or element to it. They just want snapshots of people. It would be really nice to help break their mold and shoot more photo journalistically in the future.

Overall I am slowly learning and gaining experience. I think my photos need to improve on the tailgate of fans before the game. But now I know what I need to do. I need to stay till the end of the tailgate and shoot photos of the face painting and last minute preparations for the game.