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.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Refuse to be Invisible

In order to solve a problem, you need to attack it head on and not ignore it. Hobson proves that “color blindness” isn’t okay and that in order to attack the problem of racial inequality everyone must be “color brave” not “color blind” being “blind” to the problem does not resolve the racial inequality that is still relevant today it just ignores it, as if it is invisible. Being “color blind” is an easy way out. “Color blindness” isn’t seeing and understanding a person. The color of one’s skin does not define a person but it does have an effect on that person’s identity and that person’s struggles of how they grew up and are treated. Hobson’s story of being assumed as lunch help really resonated with me. She reflects on the experience, but not expecting sympathy. Hobson tells the story to prove a point. The receptionist made the assumption that Hobson and Ford were “help” by the color of their skin. This story isn’t a testament to “color blindness”, but to prove race inequality by assumption. Hobson tells that her mother from early on in life has taught her that others may treat her differently, but that she can still be anything and everything imaginable. Hobson wants everyone to be “color brave” and to be understanding and accepting of all.

Waheed’s tweet, “Never trust anyone who says they do not see color. This means to them, you are invisible” hit home strong on this subject. It left an impactful presence in less than 140 characters. I do think that if someone is “color blind” than the person is basically invisible. You are no longer seeing a person for their entirety. As a person, there are multiple ways to identify yourself and your physical appearance is a part of that. You can’t ignore a person’s skin color and assume to know a person. Knowing a person’s story is more than skin deep, but ignoring the color of their skin is out of ignorance.  

I think that at times I felt invisible and I have cowered within. I have at times been very shy and held my opinions within. I have never really thought of a time where my race was the cause of my invisibility. I think my experiences are quite the opposite. A lot of people are quick to judge based on my race and stereotypes that they think about Asians. I think YIA is a great opportunity that promotes acceptance and conformability. YIA allowing youth to share their stories, practice leadership and create change in their communities helps them become aware of themselves and others. YIA helps youth create a positive change and that is necessary for youth. Giving youth leadership roles at this age help them make positive decisions and give them a chance to dictate their lives in a world where most decisions are usually made for them. When I think of YIA, I think of the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, I think that youth are going up to be huge contributors to the world and giving them the opportunity so early on to learn leadership and get comfortable in their voice and opinions will help them be impacting members of society. YIA is helping their youth to refuse to be invisible.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Inventory Quiz

I identify with "Risk, Resiliency and Prevention" which doesn't surprise me at all after reading the ideology horoscope. I scored a 15 in Risk, Resiliency and Prevention, an 11 in Positive Youth Development and a 10 in Critical Youth Development. I'm surprised my A and B results were not closer together since I do identify with those characteristics as well. The key questions of individual who identifies as Risk, Resiliency and Prevention are: How can we decrease overall rates of: Teen pregnancy; Violence; School failures; Drug use; Gang activity? I do agree with the main beliefs on the ideology horoscope. "Teens’ brains are not fully developed, and so teens do not always make the “best” decisions. Children and teens need specific coaching in how to make good choices for themselves. Urban youth lack “cultural capital.”" Teens and youth do not always make the best decisions because they don't think of all the consequences. Their brains aren't fully developed and some of the poor decisions they make greatly effect the rest of their development (drug and alcohol abuse). Some youth will give in to peer pressure and that puts them in greater danger than an individual who is developed and mentally, physically and emotionally ready to make any decision that could change their lives. Youth should be educated and well informed on all topics that they could face at their appropriate age and understanding to help prevent dangerous, life changing events from occurring. Granted not everything is preventable, but being educated can help the events that are. Some people believe that if you ignore certain topics like sex, drugs and alcohol with youth then they will not be affected and that just isn't the case in today's world. Youth are being taught all about this in the media and unfortunately it isn't always in the best way and if that's all they see then they'll think it's normal to participate in things like this and potentially change their lives forever.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A World Where Youth Hold the Power

A World Where Youth Hold the Power is a compilation of different point of views of those impacted or participating in Youth in Action. A key note is that the youth are a key factor is the major decisions of the organization and are a main component of its success. The article states that. “It’s critical for young people to be at the center of change in every community.” Youth need to be aware of society and be the frontrunners to help create change in their communities. Youth in Action is described to have different dynamic that can change the atmosphere of its participants. It is said that Youth in Action has a different mindset, learning processes, dynamics and perspective that can greatly impact the involvement of the youth involved.
Key elements of Youth in Action told by their members
-      A space for youth to thrive and create change
-      To promote a new definition of youth
-      Youth and adults are growing together
-      To create opportunities that regularly engage the practice of disagreement
-      To focus on learning and speaking the truth even when it is difficult
Youth in Action creates an open atmosphere for all youth to be able to share their feelings and create a better environment for themselves and gain confidence in themselves and their opinions.
Youth and adults growing together
          Described a process called “Plus Delta Hot Seat” which an exercise used to describe ones strengths and openly provide constructive criticism. The activity is not used to intentionally hurt one’s feelings put to shine light on areas that need help and start conversations on how to work out the current problems.
Giovanni Larracuente calls himself lucky enough to find YIA early because he developed a confidence about himself and his opinions. Giovanni also discusses that schools are missing the interpersonal relationships between student and teacher.
I can relate because I know that when I was growing up, it was a lot easier for me to talk to and ask for advice from teachers and groups where I felt more comfortable and confident in myself. When I was in middle school, I was in a program called “Project Respect” and I worked closely with the advisor and was more comfortable with her in a week’s time than I was with my major’s teachers that I saw every day because she created an environment that was open and respectful. Another time where I felt completely comfortable was with my ninth grade English teacher. The classroom environment was open even though she was authoritative. She created a space that was comfortable for sharing right off the bat which led to a respectful environment because she did not demand our respect and speak down at us even though we were her students. Creating the right atmosphere is crucial for youth. Youth need to be aware that their opinions matter and that they will not be punished for disagreeing and speaking up on their opinions. Youth need to be able to voice their opinions without fear and this will then teach the youth that their opinions matter and that they can create change, whether that is just in YIA or on a bigger scale. Giving our youth confidence will better our society.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Youth Work

What do we mean by youth work?
-      Youth work can have many definitions that vary from one youth worker to another. Although youth work does not have a definitive definition, it does have definite influences by social, political and economic factors. 
Youth work is an educational practice
-          Youth workers engage with youth in multiple settings and use methods and activities to engage and stimulate education and learning. Youth workers are given the opportunity to create substantial trusting relationships with the youth they work with. Youth workers impact youth lives in hopes to create opportunities and conversations that help change the way youth see their social world.
Youth work is a social practice
-          Youth workers have the ability to adopt “case work” approaches to use their personal information and experiences, advice and guidance to help youth. Social practice allows youth and youth workers to learn about their values and attitudes in a social context or interacting and speaking with others.
Youth workers actively challenge inequality and work towards social justice
-          Youth workers seek to address the imbalances and inequality and discuss their wrongs instead of the latter of ignoring the fact to avoid discrimination.
Where possible, young people choose to be involved  
-          Most interactions for youth are not their given choice, but their social expectations. Youth “have” to go to school but their engagement is not always guaranteed. Within youth work, youth should be able to build relationships and want to be involved and interact. For myself, I was never one who hated school, but having an English teacher who made interacting and speaking with her easy made me feel more inclined to participate and ask her for help with more things than just school and class. I have created a bond with this teacher and I have kept in touch with her for 8 years. As a youth worker, I feel it is crucial to create long lasting, impactful relationships.
Youth work seeks to strengthen the voice and influence of young people
-          Working with youth encourages them to speak up and engage themselves in life. Youth should not be afraid of voicing their opinions or feelings and as a youth worker, creating an open atmosphere that allows one to share will teach youth proper communication.
Youth is a welfare practice
-          Youth work promotes the safety and well-being of all youth especially youth in areas which may have greater needs than others. Youth workers choose to work with youth to create and impact and help youth flourish and develop into something much more than they can originally picture for themselves.
Youth work works with young people “holistically”
-          All youth are different and no one youth is like another. Although they are all different and unique, youth are touched by common problems and can be addressed as whole and can be engaged for different reasons. Youth encounter difficulties and they need to be able to talk and share their struggles in an open environment. 

About Me!

1. My little and I from my sorority this past summer at the 2015 Leadership Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.
2. My cousins, Catalyna and Ellah, and I.
3. My friends and I at the beach at night.
4. My parents at the Point Judith Lighthouse.
5. The view from the seawall in Narragansett.
6. My cousin, Kaliyani,
7. Me holding my niece, Ariyana for the first time.
8. The view from my chair at Bonnet Shores.
9. A picture of the Greek Life Executive Boards at the 2015 Greek Retreat.
10. Julian Edelman! Go Pats!
11. My highschool cheerleading squad from senior year.
12. My big and I waiting in line for Nick Jonas in Boston.

As you can see, my family and Greek Life are a huge part of who I am and how I identify myself. Family has always been an important role in my life and my Greek Family has just enlarged it.  This past summer, I have had incredible opportunities to grow and learn into an even better leader. I was honored to represent my chapter in Ohio with over 75 other chapters of my sorority and meet our National president and to attend this years Greek Retreat. These two experiences taught me a lot about who I am as a leader.
As for the pictures by the water, I love being at the beach and in the water swimming, so I am really sad to see summer go.
I am a past cheerleader and I honestly don't know what I wouldve done without this sport, It's truly something I love and loved. Sadly, I have aged out and have yet to find a team (or time) to continue my love for cheerleading.