In our Ethnic New York class, each student prepared an exhibit of the neighborhoods we lived in. My exhibit was based on my neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen. For weeks, I conducted research on the history of my neighborhood, pulling from several books, many websites and some videos. On our exhibits we placed images, gave the link so that some could listen to interviews we conducted with people from our neighborhood, we gave some information as well as some of the field notes we took while we were out observing our neighborhoods. What I took most away from the project was that Hell’s Kitchen’s history consists of more than I would have expected. I haven’t lived in Hell’s Kitchen for that long, so I knew that there would be things that I would learn about the neighborhood. But I did not expect to learn about the variety of different topics that took place over time within my neighborhood. Knowing the various things that took place in the neighborhood gives me more of an appreciation for my neighborhood as well.
This summer I participated in a one week intensive at The Robin Hood Foundation. Robin Hood is the largest non-profit in New York City that focuses on funding, searching, and creating programs that generate substantial help for families and people in poverty. Robin Hood believes that poverty is more than just one figure that everyone can fall under. They believe that their are more factors that lead to one being in poverty.
Each day, us group of students would be introduced to a new topic and organization concerning poverty that Robin Hood had partnered with. We would hear from someone who gave us background information on the topic and then we would go out to their facility or location and would hear about their process and how they help fight poverty with the work that they were doing. After the five days I had learned about five different organizations that fought poverty in their various ways and why and how Robin Hood was helping them reach their goals. Poverty and especially poverty in New York City is something that is greatly overlooked and the work Robin Hood does is more than necessary to fight it and have it come to an end.
My group focused on the issue of diabetes and specifically diabetes within the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. While researching, we found that Bed-Stuy has a diabetes rate of around 16%, which equates to 34,000 people. This is higher than the city average of diabetes which is 10%. We wanted to service this neighborhood because not only was diabetes a prevalent problem, but there were many other socio-economic related issues that occurred in Bed-Stuy, and adding a clinic would be a way to help reduce one of the many issues.
The most challenging issue that we seemed to face while making this proposal was how expensive it was to have and run this clinic. It showed me that health care is no easy task, and that it takes many resources financially and in other ways to help with medical issues. Also, finding locations for clinics and other health buildings within New York is a difficult task. Which the city having so much commercial and residential property already, there’s not really any space to build a location, and then it’s hard to find a location for rent or sale that isn’t to expensive. With gentrification in neighborhoods such as Bed-Stuy on the rise, the prices for these spaces are increasing tremendously. So not only is the cost of the space expensive, but the equipment and the properly trained professionals necessary are as well.
I would love to possibly help in this area in the future however I can. Right now I don’t know how that will happen, but whichever way I can I would try and do so in the future.
Going to South Africa was life changing. Not only were we able to have an impact on the people we met and the places we went, we were able to look in the mirror and change ourselves and change the way we think. We were able to stay in a township with the people of Red Location, learn about their lives, learn about their culture, and their history. Developing a bond with the people of South Africa made the trip even more amazing. We were giving the opportunity to have authentic interactions with the people and do real work that would have an impact on their lives. One moment that sticks out is when we visited the Methodist Church of South Africa and we helped them with their community outreach. We went with members of the church into the homes of people who could not make it to church and needed extra support spiritually, emotionally, and with their living supplies. Seeing the impact the church was able to make on its home-stricken members was very eye-opening. It also made me feel more aware of the different types of outreach provided by various groups.
Over the summer, I went to Hawaii where I participated in running a basketball camp for children. There were ten children and every day I would give them drills and other activities to do to improve their basketball skills. I enjoyed doing this service because it allowed me to help children improve their skills in basketball, which is the sport I love, while allowing them to have fun and enjoy themselves. Doing this service allowed me to enhance my ability to teach and communicate with the children even though sometimes it was difficult due to the children not listening or following directions. I really enjoyed my experience and I would love to do it again.
The social issue my group and I chose was youth education in New York City. We chose this issue because we had a few common values, which were personal growth, family, and opportunity. We felt that all of these values reflect some aspect that education affects a child. With these values in mind the organization we chose was the GO Project. The GO Project is a non-profit organization that provides year round educational and family support for elementary and middle school students that are performing under grade level. The GO Project has educators and social workers that help the students gain the confidence that they need to improve their learning skills. The GO Project serves 550 students from 30 public schools throughout Lower Manhattan and Chelsea. They service the students in 4 private schools in Lower Manhattan with their headquarters in the Grace Church School.
When we first discussed the idea of doing an organization that deals with youth education I questioned that wouldn’t the solution be simple. But when I researched what the GO Project does and how they work focus on the needs of every individual kid, it showed me that it wasn’t just about helping them get smarter. It was about instilling the confidence in the kids that they could become better students. I also learned that it was not only the academic aspect that would affect the child’s learning ability. The parents of these struggling children would be unaware of how to help their child. The GO Project would work with the families of the children to improve their awareness and abilities to have their child succeed in improving their educational skills. The way I could most effectively stay engaged with the GO Project would to join their summer program and become a volunteer. That way I would personally help improve the skills of a student in need of help.