Thursday, December 10, 2015

Elevator Speech

Image result for youth

Youth Development is helping youth grow and learn outside of the classroom, through mentorship and advocacy. As a successful youth worker is one that focuses on youth’s strengths and helps them in areas of improvement.  They use positive or strengths-based approach to prevention. With my Youth Development degree I can run various youth programs and I could work varies nonprofits that serves youth. One of the most important aspects of a youth worker is helping youth discover their identity, and help co-author their life in the most significant way. Youth workers help youth develop a voice.

Event #2

As a class we attended the Open Books Open Minds at Rhode Island College. “Open Books – Open Minds has been reimagining the role of the common book at Rhode Island College. Common reading programs seek to generate intellectual and social engagement throughout the campus and help to create a sense of community, increase the vitality of academic discourse, and overall improve participants' feelings about their school” The chosen book was The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

The theme of this event was telling your own story. What I liked most was that all the readers were very different and all had different stories. The readers ranged in age, are of different ethnic backgrounds, there were both males and females, and everyone expressed their stories differently. Some people decided to show their emotional struggles, their happiness, and someone else’s story. There was a point where I almost cried. There was a reader talking about her father passing and it was devastating. One of the stories I really enjoyed was a daughter retelling an insane story her mother had before she was born. She had so much pride and admiration for her mother.  

This event ties into story telling. Telling one’s story and as a youth worker, helping youth write their own is imperative. The TED Talk with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Danger of a Single Story explains how “Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken.”

As I stated in a previous blog, I feel as though in the past youth had a single story. That they were just viewed as “kids”, however I believe their stories are becoming more multi-dimensional. There is now an understanding that every child is different. Youth have different needs and beliefs and we as Youth Workers need to recognize this and take into consideration the many stories youth have. There have been instances when I had the opportunity to hear the “other” stories for youth at my job. The kids are always growing and developing their identities and they are not tied down to one story.


Event #1

I attended the 13th annual Lights On Afterschool! Breakfast of Champions, on Wednesday October 21, 2015. A quick recap of the breakfast “This event called attention to the critical need for and importance of afterschool and summer programs to children, youth, families, and communities; and increased awareness and support for afterschool and summer programs among policymakers, funders, and other decision makers.” (

The breakfast was a great way to talk to some of my YDEV classmates that I never spoke to before. I was glad for the opportunity to connect, learn, and eat at this event. Throughout the breakfast there was multiple speakers. One thing that I really liked was that every speaker was very different. There was a principal, a high school student, and a technology professional who all somehow were or are affected positively from afterschool programs.

I had to leave a bit earlier than everyone else because I had class at 11:00, however I was able to stay for some of Jonathan Kozol’s speech. I did not know who he was before this breakfast, but I soon learned that he was a world-renowned author and advocate. I honestly did not want to leave until he was done speaking. His speech was memorizing and inspirational.

I think one of the most important aspects of an afterschool program is understanding “Who are the youth in my community.“ As we learned from readings and the TED Talk with Mellody Hobson on the topic of Color Blind or Color Brave, it’s important to be color brave. To embrace the youths cultures and race. As I stated in a previous blog, she stated that we cannot afford to be color blind, but have to be color brave. I agree with this because being color blind can lead to ignorance, and not being aware that there is still racial discrimination in our society. She raises this issue of racial discrimination because she believes it threatens to rob another generation of all the opportunities that all of us want for all of our children, no matter what their color or where they come from.

Overall the breakfast was very educational and I’m so thankful for the opportunity.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Resilient Kids

Image result for mindfulnessWhen looking for an internship, I came across resilient kids and thought it was a great program. Now for this week’s assignment I looked at it in more detail and think what they are doing is making a huge difference. Resilient kids is a program that trains students to practice mindfulness. It improves working memory, attention, academic skills, emotional regulation, and self-esteem. It also reported improvements in mood, and decreases in anxiety, stress,  fatigue. I believe schools should become familiar with this organization, or at least mindfulness in general. This is something also us as youth workers can take into account. No matter where our career paths take us, we all want to work with youth of all ages and this is a great practice to familiar ourselves with.

Mindfulness- a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Danger of a Single Story

I want to start off by saying how much I enjoyed this TED talk. Everything Adichie said was insightful and knowledgeable. I found myself wanting to hear more from her. Before watching the video I was not sure what the “danger of a single story” actually meant, and what the ‘danger” would be. However I know understand how it can be harmful. Incomplete stories become one story, which becomes the only story, and this can lead to stereotypes. Stereotypes create single stories because stereotypes are the idea that a group of people have one specific identity.  
I feel as though in the past youth had a single story. That they were just viewed as “kids”, however I believe their stories are becoming more multi-dimensional. There is now an understanding that every child is different. Youth have different needs and beliefs and we as Youth Workers need to recognize this and take into consideration the many stories youth have. There have been instances when I had the opportunity to hear the “other” stories for youth at my job. The kids are always growing and developing their identities and they are not tied down to one story.

          I have volunteered in classrooms where the teachers do not think certain students are capable and they believe they simply refuse to do the work because they just want to, but not realizing there may be more to it. It is very sad to see people who are supposed to be advocates for our youth, view them as single storied, and not as a never ending book. This is definitely something that I will keep in mind when I work with youth, and anyone for that matter.
Image result for youth identity

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Self in Context

Context mapping is a technique to gain deep insights into a person’s identity. Mitch asks Julian to list he various spaces and relationships he must negotiate each day. Through this Mitch learned about people who play a major role in Julian’s life, his “co-authors”. Youth are still figuring themselves out, and they need to experiment. Through experimentation they learn what they like and don’t like. They see what makes sense for them in life. In the reading the author lists four identities. 

Foreclosed Identity- An identity that is simply accepted as is, "with little reflection". The person stays committed to their identity without thinking or fighting about it. This can be someone who lives in poverty and believes that they will always live in poverty, unable to get out because they just accept that.

Diffuse Identity- This identity is easily influenced. There has been little exploration in this identity, and one does not commit to one. They change constantly.

Moratorium- In the identity moratorium, one actively explores different parts that make up their identity. However there can be a lot of anxiety in this identity because  of the pressure of finding who you are, and not choosing the "right" one.

Achieved Identity- This is where the identity crisis is resolved and there is a commitment to a selected identity. There was a lot of experimentation to come to this conclusion. A person becomes more comfortable with who they are.
   “Idealizing these figures is a way of trying on what it would be like to emulate them and chart a life path that might reach similar heights…The emotional and intellectual investments these figures represent are as hopeful as they are fleeting.” I agree that having big dreams and forming what you want your identity to be is great, and it’s important for youth to have hope, however there has to be an understanding or a realistic outlook that sometimes things do not work out.  

My Context Map
What contexts and relationships do you encounter on a weekly basis?

·         Rhode island College
o   YDEV, Management
·         Library
·         Explorations After School Program
·         Pawtucket, RI
·         Daughter, big sister, cousin, friend and co-worker
·         Professors/Previous teachers

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My multi-authored life

First off, there were many concepts in this week's reading The Construction of Adolescents that I felt that were essential to the major concepts of the text.

  • Just as children require near-constant support from others to access the material from which they will start building their lives, adolescents and adults likewise depend on ongoing support to construct their realities and the internalized stories of those realities.
  • All stories are multi-authored
  • Theme of education is critical
  •  Being disappointed by his teachers [Antwon]
  • No meeting of the minds [Antwon & Teacher]
  • Just as educators play critical roles in the construction of their students’ life texts, so too are students critical to the life texts of their teachers, principals, and counselors.
  • Trained to promote youth development via range of teaching, counseling, mentoring and prevention programs.
There was a few concepts that I did not know previous to reading this chapter.
            - Zone of proximal development
            - Scaffolding
            - Reciprocal transformation

 One of the most important concepts in my opinion from the list I gathered was that there was no meeting of the minds between Antwon and his teacher Ms. Petersen. They both did not know where the other one was coming from, and if their was open communication, things might have been different.

Now about my own life story. It was hard to come up with 10 people who have co-authored with me. I tried to pick people from all different parts of my life.
  1.   Mom
  2.  Dad
  3. Grandmother
  4. Alex
  5. Mrs. A
  6.  Mark
  7.  Patricia
  8.  Ethan
  9.  Angel
  10. Student from volunteering
We were told to pick and talk about one person who helped co-author our lives and I decided to pick my mom. There is no other person in this world that I can say shaped me more than she has. I mean how can there be, she’s been there for me every single day of my life. If anyone would ask, I would deny that I’m anything like my mother, however the truth is I’m just like her and I'm proud of that. She is the toughest person I know, the hardest worker, and I work every day to be like her. From the moment she arrived in the United States she worked from the bottom up to get where she is now. I can honestly say I am a strong independent women, and this is because of my mom. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Color Blind or Color Brave?

One of the first things Hobson talked about that really resonated with me was that the first step to solving any problem is not to hide from it, the first step to any form of action is awareness. This is true for any situation, not just race. Hopson expressed that color blindness is dangerous, because it is ignoring the problem. She stated that we cannot afford to be color blind, but have to be color brave. I agree with this because being color blind can lead to ignorance, and not being aware that there is still racial discrimination in our society.
She raises this issue of racial discrimination because she believes it threatens to rob another generation of all the opportunities that all of us want for all of our children, no matter what their color or where they come from. In my current job of working in an after school program, we have a lot of diversity. We have children who are White, African American, Asian, and Hispanic. Looking at my kids, I could never imagine telling them they cannot do something because of the color of their skin. They are all the smartest and kindest kids, and I honestly believe they all have a bright future ahead of them.
The tweet “Never trust anyone who says they don’t see color. This means to them, you are invisible.” by Nayyrah Waheed, made me really analyze it and dissect it. I’m not exactly sure what she meant by the tweet. The way I interpreted the tweet was that everyone sees color, and that race is a part of who are. Those who choose to ignore race as if it doesn’t exist, are choosing to ignore the person for who they are. I am on the fence with if I agree or disagree with this tweet. In my social psychology class I learned from a study that one of the first things people notice about a person is their skin color. This does not mean that their making a judgment on it, but simply making an observation. I believe everyone notices race, but does not mean it effects the interaction with that person.

On the topic of invisibility, I think that everyone feels invisible from time to time. For me there are times when invisibility is welcomed, but there are also times when it is not. From both Hobson and Waheed, I never thought of race making one feel invisible, but I understand what both women mean. As Hobson said, youths need to see others like them in high position jobs. If not, this can lead to them believing they cannot succeed and result in them feeling invisible. I think that a youth space like YIA can be an antidote to invisibility because they are putting themselves out there, and going for what they want, and not letting any obstacles stop them. They are being role models for everyone around them.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

     To start off, there was always two statements that I was torn between for whether I should put a one or a two. After getting my results I realized I was stuck between Risk, Resiliency and Prevention, and Positive Youth Development. I scored a 15 in Risk, Resiliency and Prevention and a 12 in Positive Youth Development. As I was reading the Youth Development ideology Horoscope, I thought I would score high in Positive Youth Development. I believe that it’s important to build upon a child’s strengths and assets.  However I do see why I would score high in Risk, Resiliency, and Prevention. I think it’s critical to decrease the rates of social problems we are facing. I believe that I am a combination of both ideals. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In the article A World Where Youth Hold the Power by Adeola A. Oredola with members of Youth in Action, it discusses what the program Youth in Action is all about. Their core values are explained by many different perspectives and what the bases of the program means for them. Overall the program is an environment where young people take charge and advocate for themselves and others. Adeola A. Oredola the former executive director further explained what they stand for, “In addition to creating a space for youth to thrive and create change in our community, they believe we work hard to promote a new definition of youth; we have the expectation that both youth and adults are growing together.” (p 49)
            For the article, I like how there was different perspectives, opinions, and views from the both the youths and adults of the program. By reading the many different viewpoints, it helped me as the reader understand the program much better. I believe that Youth in Action does resonate with my own experiences from high school. I’m from Pawtucket and much of the youth go through some of the same struggles. I know when I was in high school I felt as though I did not have a voice and having a program like this would have been very beneficial, and for many others in my community. “A young person who is supported to be powerful will fight to have a say when it comes to their schools or their neighborhoods. A young person who feels powerless will see their environment as something that can’t be changed and will ultimately give up hope of ever seeing a difference.” (p. 48)
            I think the perfect example of the notion of “With, Not To” is stated from a student, Giovanni Larracuente “YIA adults are open books, and they don’t want to control us. They want to work with us regardless of or maybe even because of our age.” (p. 50) He also states that no one speaks at you, but to you. The whole program follows the notion of “With, Not To” because it’s centered on making the youth have a voice and supporting them to be powerful. “At YIA you have the opportunity to define yourself, but that can go against who you’ve been told you are. We’re defining ourselves as smart, educated, and powerful.” (p. 49)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I currently work in an afterschool program and during the summer I work at the summer camp for seven weeks. This is my fourth year at my job and I absolutely love it. The reading Youth Work: Preparation for Practice explained seven characteristics of youth work. I was able to connect almost everything to my own experiences of working in the after school program and camp.
The first characteristics of Youth Work is Youth Work in an educational practice. One of the most important concepts from this section came right from the first sentence. The authors state that youth workers are educators “who engage with young people in diverse settings.” I completely agree with this statement because children do not just learn in a classroom but in multiple settings. The reading explains that informal education focuses on where children “are at” instead of using teaching methods. A primary concern is where they are personally and socially. I can personally say that kids learn so much outside of the classroom. They are able to use what they did learn in school in a less stressful environment.
The next characteristic is Youth Work is a social practice. Usually young people are pulled more into groups when they associate with their peers. This social practice allows youths to “test their values, attitudes and behaviors” in an environment where they are with others. Knowing this, youth workers can keep that in mind and can use that to their advantage.
Now for youth workers actively challenge inequality and work towards social justice. As a youth worker it is our job to make sure there is positive, and healthy environment. It’s very important that a youth worker is someone who “seeks to address power imbalances” instead of someone who just shakes their finger no. A small example of this was when I first started working with kids, I was paired with the kindergartners and they were coloring. The kids were coloring people and kept asking for the “skin color” crayon, which happen to be the tan colored crayon. I work in a very diverse environment and I was shocked. I remember picking up the crayon and saying “uh this doesn’t look like my skin color.” And I proceeded to compare it to their arms to show them that it really was not anyone’s skin color. I explained that the color is tan and not “skin color”.
Another characteristic is where possible, young people choose to be involved. When it comes to youth work, young people are more likely participate freely where as in school they are in a sense forced. For example at my job the children are allowed to choose what activities they would like to go to, and they are allowed to leave when they please. This gives the children a sense of independence and makes them participate and give their all.
Youth work seeks to strengthen the voice and influence of young people is a very important characteristic. It create chances for youths to be more liberated and self-sufficient. They are imperative skills that children need to have in the future.

The next characteristic is youth work is a welfare practice. Overall the authors explain that youth work is a welfare practice because it is a youth workers job to promote “the welfare and safety of people.” For example at my job safety is a huge concern of ours. Making sure the kids are not putting themselves in physical danger, but also putting an emphasis on a positive environment. 

Who Am I

 I try to be active, and it's a very important goal for me that I want to reach.