Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This is Youth Work

What are you studying at school?
Youth Development!
Youth Development? What is Youth Development?

Youth Development is a collection of courses covering the areas of education, social work and non-profit studies. The courses are selected to give Youth Workers the best tools and toolbox to create a positive and flourishing atmosphere for the youth we encounter. The education courses provide areas of expertise pertaining a child's growth, milestones and how they learn. The social work classes provide a larger understanding of ethics and learning about one's beliefs. Most Youth Development majors will eventually be working in the non-profit world and receiving a non-profit certificate gives every Youth Development major an insight into the non-profit world. Non-profit classes cover areas of finance, HR and overall organization work. Each of these three focus areas are combined together to create Youth Development.
Youth Development gives me the chance to impact lives and help youth without having to follow the strict criteria and regulations of a classroom. State requirements, to me, are like a choke hold and Youth Development is a way to break away from that. Obviously working with youth has all the same regulations regarding the safety and well-being of the youth, but allows lessons to be taught in a less conventional, a-line way. There are fewer limitations to how a youth worker can teach and impact children. Being a Youth Work will be more rewarding to me knowing I will not have to put my youth through unbearable standardize testing and be able to achieve our goals in a way that is fun and resourceful. Youth work is more than just teaching, it is a resource to youth and can change their lives.
Youth work gives facilitators a chance to provide unconventional resources to youth. With school systems having so many regulations and set-backs, youth work can allow youth and youth workers to break down that third wall and create a closer bond and understanding than some teachers and students. Youth should choose whether or not to be involved with youth work. They have a choice to be impacted through Youth Work, unlike in school. “The sanctity of the voluntary principle; the freedom for young people to enter into and withdraw from Youth Work as they so wish”. Youth work allows youth to hold more power than in most areas of their life and this is one of the greatest things about Youth Work. We have an impact because they choose to allow us to be in their lives and impact them.
Youth work is working WITH youth, not TO youth!
“It ought to be founded on a voluntary engagement with young people in their leisure time. It ought to be informal and educational, focused on the personal, social and political awareness of the young people drawn to its provision”

Thursday, November 19, 2015

YDEV Open House


 I truly think everything happens for a reason. Rhode Island College was my last choice for school. Once I accepted, I thought I wanted to be an intended nursing major. After one semester of pre-requisites, I realized this was definitely not the right career path for me. I was so lost and confused about what to do next. I searched through the RIC website to find my next passion. I came across Youth Development and I immediately needed more information.

Since then, I have never regretted becoming a YDEV major. I always tell my friends that I’m so lucky to love every single class and to love what I’m going to do one day. I really feel like over my time in these classes, my passion for the major has grown. And reflecting about how I talked to prospective RIC students and YDEV majors I felt so much pride and love for what we do. I was really nervous about talking to people and possibly messing up the information and not being able to find the right words but once I started talking I found myself not being able to stop (shocking, I know, lol). Becoming a YDEV major, is definitely up there with some of the greatest decisions I’ve made in my life. I’m excited to see where this program goes and how much greatness we can all achieve! I loved meeting the possible RIC freshman and look forward to hopefully seeing some faces before I leave the RIC community. It was definitely an eye-opening experience to talk to 17-18 year olds. I secretly hoped that when I was an incoming freshman I had attended open house before spending a semester thinking I wanted to be a nurse. I could not be happier where I am and being in such a close knit, well-organized major with my cohort!

Resilient Kids

My first thought after hearing so many different recollections of the experiences of those impacted by Resilient Kids was fascination. This program seems to have huge impact, not only on youth but on the adults who interact with them. Teaching youth about how to calm their bodies and come down from their natural highs is something so interesting and powerful. Youth are always so high and do not necessarily have the tools and understanding about how to come down.

When I found out we had to bring a jar to class, I immediately knew what we were doing. I have personally made myself a glitter jar before for my anxiety and looking up DIY methods to calm down. I have had one for about three years and my excitement for the Resilient Kids visit from Vanessa only increased. Glitter jars are a visual representation of the storm in your mind coming to a close and slowly fading away and I truly think it’s a great tool for not only youth but for adults and any age for that matter. Sometimes we need to take a moment and just watch the glitter fall and realize that eventually the chaos can come to a close.

The glitter jars and breathing techniques along with the other techniques taught by Resilient Kids are great tools for all and I can see myself using them for all the times I am stressed. I really like the visual representation of the stress swirling around like it does in your brain inhibiting you from putting your best foot forward.

I think every time we learn about a new organization I get really jealous that I did not get to have these experiences growing up. I’m really happy about the existence of these programs and to hopefully be a part of this growing field. I hope to have an impact like these organizations and help change the lives of youth. 

Dangers of a Single Story

Adichie talks about the problem of a single story. She talks about growing up reading British literature. Growing up reading British literature transferred into her writing. She wrote stories that mainly consisted of white characters with blue eyes that ate apples and talked about the weather because it’s all she knew. She talks about characters drinking “ginger beer” even though she had no idea what it was or what it tasted like because she had read about it.

This portion of TED Talk reminded me when we went to YIA for the first time and we went into the room on the first floor with all the posters. There was one poster with a visual representation of the percentages of books with white, Latino, African American, Native American and Pacific Islander children.Not reading literature that can relate to you can cause “unintended consequence of not knowing that people like me could exist in literature”. I think this can apply to all types of media; arts, movies, social media, magazines, and more. Not seeing figures you relate to causes you to think it is the norm and that people like you do not exist in “that light” of the world. 

A single story is defined as seeing someone repeatedly and only in one form. After stereotyping and individual and confining them to this form, it is what they become. Confining people to stereotypical beliefs is a danger and promotes non accepting attitudes. With the recent attacks on Paris I feel there is a lot of truth to this and people’s attitudes and the harm a single story can do. There have been quite a few people who have stated on record that Muslims are to blame and that the US cannot take refugees because all Muslims wish to harm others. Labeling Muslims in an entirety as terrorists is extremely unfair and uncalled for.
A single story can create being social unaware and socially incompetent. Not knowing more than what you see will create harm in the world. Not being open to different cultures and experiences inhibits one’s personal growth and understanding. When you only know one side or only hear one thing than you have created a single story and have unintentionally done harm to yourself and your community.When given the chance to share your story, you can create another dimension, therefore abolishing the factor of a single story. I think as Youth Workers we need to be able to create an atmosphere that is open and has multiple dimensions and understandings.

Interning at Youth In Action, I see the great work that a youth organization can do. With youth at the forefront, they are given opportunities to break down those stereotypes and learn and develop their stories with the help of each other and the people they come in contact with. I know personally, when I leave Youth In Action, I always feel extremely jealous of the opportunity these youth have been given and the experiences they have gained in such a short time because of this amazing program. The youth at Youth In Action teach me so much more than the lessons they create, they open up the idea that not only can I have an impact on them but that I can learn so much from youth as well. Youth Workers do not always have to be facilitating and at the forefront to create and impact and add a dimension to the story. We are all have a piece to give when creating a story and each piece is individual and unique and contributes to the next series of events to promote understanding and a broader horizon. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015


 At the Open Books Open Minds reading!
Multiple individuals recalled on memories of their lives. These stories were inspired by the Rhode Island College 2015-2016 common book, “The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao,” by Junot Diaz. All of the stories were well written and had an emotional impact of some sort. Some made me laugh and some made me cry and others just made me interested to know more. Each story shared was a distinct memory and recalled on a time in one's life that helped shape who they were. Each story was a recollection of a personal memory or a memory shared by someone close to them. There were other stories around the room that were not shared by their author. With the discussion of co-authors, these stories are direct examples of co-authors and how other people's memories and ours can be combined together to form another story. There is never just one author to every story, each action, every interaction and every path crossed co-authors your story.

Context Map

Antwon and Julian are the best of friends until their high school academics conflicted with their friendship. Antwon asked Julian to draw on the bathroom wall with him. The two boys were caught by the school psychologist, Mitch. Mitch has full understanding of the stage “identity vs. role confusion”. The boys have committed the same offense but Mitch knows that they did not commit the same offense for the same reasoning. Therefore giving the same punishment to both Antwon and Julian would be ineffective. Before giving a punishment at any time, one must understand the reasoning behind the offense. Mitch then observes Julian more in depth. Mitch looks into Julian’s record, his home life and school life. Mitch asks Julian to list his relationships and surroundings and to consider how these factors affect him. This is his context map.

My context map includes a few ways that I identify myself. Each identity, leading back to the bigger identity that is me in my current state. 

Nakkula and Toshalis discuss four different identities in chapter two.
- Foreclosed Identity: An individual chooses or is committed to something without considering other options because it is what is the norm or is expected of them. They do not differ from the given path.
- Diffuse Identity: An individual who is neither committed to or in crisis of another identity
- Identity Moratorium: An individual who is exploring different roles, relationships and behaviors, etc., without making a commitment to any of the above explorations
- Achieved Identity: An individual who is no longer exploring different identities, but has found their identity and is no longer questioning their decisions

Although Nakkula and Toshalis discuss these four identities, any individual is not just set into one identity. An individual can be any one of these four depending on the event being discussed.

An individual can have foreclosed identity when it comes to religion and could be in identity moratorium when it comes to college decisions. Any one individual could be all four of these identity groups at any given point in life. 

The Best Co-Author to My Story

“We do not construct our life stories on our own.  We are, rather, in a constant state of cocreating who we are with the people with whom we are in closest connection and within those contexts that hold the most meaning for our day to day existence” –Nakkula and Toshalis
Before this reading I don’t think I ever actually thought of myself a co-author to my own life. I think it was just never a thought that crossed my mind. I am a firm believer in the quote, “Everything you go through, grows you.” Every person in your life gives you an experience and that experience can either benefit you or not (at the moment). Even the hard times that seem absolutely horrible and you question why they happen to you, helps shape you and co-author your story.
Taking a step back and thinking of people who have helped co-author my life to this exact moment is tough. I want to create a list of all positive co-authors but that just is not as realistic as I want. Even including the negatives, my list of ten did not come easy.
  1.         My mom
  2.          My dad
  3.         My biological sisters
  4.          My cousins
  5.          My grandma
  6.         Amanda
  7.          Jess
  8.          My sorority sisters
  9.          My ex-best friend
  10.          Nick

It hard to narrow down this list to one person who has provided my story with so much since some of the people on this list should be in the same category. If I were to pick, I would pick my mom. My mom is obviously the most important person in my life, without her I literally would not be on this planet. But aside from the basic maternal things she has provided me, she has also taught me to be strong, to have faith and to always be happy with what I have. My mom is the strongest person I know. In the past five years my mom has had so many personal struggles that she never let impact her spirits. She has overcome her neck injury, the loss of her mother and her current battle with Breast Cancer. She is my inspiration and she has taught me that anything is possible and that if I have enough faith in myself, I can do anything I set my mind too.