This Monday I saw the Gettysburg home page and I was so excited to read about Heston. However, I finally decided to admit that I feel disappointed since at least from a personal point of view I found inaccuracies in the individual blurbs. I didn’t react since I think you can still get the gist of what we did and I still think maybe it is just because I am so much more emotional about it. Anyway, I wanted to share my blurb with the Heston community (this the blurb I wrote since the website people asked me for info…). This is how I replied to the question what my internship meant for me:This summer I had the amazing opportunity to work for the Center for Public Service as a Heston intern. As a result, I worked for a migrant education program at the Lincoln Intermediate Unit and IMPRINT -an after-school program at the Gettysburg Middle School. These two positions helped me learn a lot about the community I came to as a Gettysburg College student and to realize that without the necessary resources and knowledge surviving here, in the United States, can turn out to be a struggle. For the most part I taught English and organized educational activities for both the adults and children involved in the programs. I managed to enrich my understanding of the issues of social justice, poverty, and immigration by gaining hands on experience and communicating with my students and supervisors. As a teacher during the Heston internship I had my lessons too. These are the lessons I learned through every day work, with its ups and downs, the lessons coming straight from capable adults unable to identify themselves in a society of barriers and the lessons from the children of families in poor financial situations. I keep my Heston moments very dear to my heart since I refer to my job this summer as an ongoing experience, a tool to understand, analyze, reflect, and give! I hope more students here will be open to explore what exists beyond the college because they will discover a diverse community, which will change their perspective about Gettysburg as a town and home, which can be a different type of school – the school of life. Best,
Decided to share some Heston moments since I was looking at my pictures from this summer. And you know…it was a HESTON summer! 🙂
Here’s what I have to say:
In the last few days, you have heard from a variety of people including President Riggs, Professor Buzz Meyers, and Laura Baldasarre. They have offered you words of inspiration on how to make the best of your Gettysburg experience, encouraged you to “do great work” and they have challenged you to become “Gettysburg great.” I guess it’s supposed to be my turn now, but there’s only one thing I can offer you this morning: silence.
Slightly awkward, isn’t it? Let me say a few words about the importance of silence.
Silence is significant, first, because it gives us a chance to reflect. It’s important for us to understand where we come from and how our experiences have influenced our thoughts. The more we understand ourselves, the better we are able to understand other people and the world around us. We need to reflect on the social issues in our community, why things are the way they are, and how we contribute to or are victimized by the various “isms.” Are there preconceptions about us because of our skin color? What are the roles we have to play because of our gender? How do these biases play out in society? What privileges do certain groups have?
I’m offering you silence this morning, also, because I want to hear from you. I may be this year’s GIV Day coordinator, but my title doesn’t mean much. I work at the Center for Public Service not because I believe I have solutions to the issues of our society, but because I want to learn and become aware of them. After all, I don’t know how to feed the hungry, to change the cycle of poverty, to end racism. But maybe your experiences have led you to understand and view the world in a different way than mine have. I want to learn from those experiences; I want to hear your thoughts. Our combined experiences and joint efforts can better prepare us to answer the questions facing our community, and together, perhaps we can act for social change. But not just any kind of action, informed and compassionate action that leads us to sustainable solutions for problems of societal inequality.
During your college career, between your coursework and extracurricular activities, you will find very few silent moments. But when you do, I hope you will embrace them, for all their awkwardness. I hope you reflect on your experiences and I hope you take a minute to listen to the thoughts and ideas of other people.
There will be times during college and throughout life when you will be asked to stand beside someone and support them, but there will be times when you will be asked to lead. This morning I ask that you stand beside me and be open to explore the Gettysburg community, but at the same time be a leader, ready to act. This morning, my hope is for you to learn a little bit about your home for the next few years and the struggles the people here are facing. I hope you begin to recognize your responsibility as a member of this community to act against the social injustice you see. I hope you feel connected to this place and that you are inspired to get involved. Above all, I hope you begin to think critically about the issues around us and how to advocate for and engage in social change.
7. The first time I’ve ever been this sad to leave a summer job.
I suppose there’s not much competition for this one. My summer jobs have been: Panera cashier, office assistant (at the doctor’s office for which my mom works), and babysitter. None of these jobs really evoked any feelings of excitement about the prospect of going to work. I never began any of these jobs thinking that I was going to learn a lot of relevant things about the field in which I’d like to be involved for the rest of my life. Those summer jobs were always about the money, about ending the summer with some money in my pocket so that I could do what I wanted during the year.
However, the beginning of the Heston Internship was completely different. On some level, I knew that leaving this job would be way harder than leaving any of my previous jobs.
I really never anticipated how hard leaving was going to be, though. As Elle explained, the waterworks began on Thursday night at the LIU. From that point on, it began to hit me that this experience was ending. Since the end of last week, I had said “I can’t believe this is the last week” probably about 100 times (maybe more). I knew how much time I had left but it really didn’t hit me. I still had so much work to do. Surely, the week wouldn’t end before I was done putting the poverty simulation together (I was wrong about this by the way). And then Thursday night at the LIU it hit me. It was time to start saying good-bye and getting used to the idea that this experience was ending.
And then I began thinking about the past 9 weeks. Never in my life could I have known how great this experience really was going to be. I knew I’d learn a lot, but the past 9 weeks have been so much more than that.
I never really thought that the relationships I created with the various people I came in contact with would mean as much to me as they do. I figured I’d meet some new people in the town, get to know their story, learn about poverty in Adams County and start the school year with more knowledge than I left with. This is obviously true, but the relationships I’ve formed mean as much to me as the knowledge I’ve gained.
I’m thinking about one of my friends from the homeless shelter who saw me walking in the Gettysburg town square and called out to me to say hello and then the next day asked me about where I was going. And the Circle Leaders whose children I spent a day in D.C. with and whose stories I’ve begun to hear and care deeply about. And the women at the LIU who invited us to their houses for dinner (and even offered to pick us up from the college campus) and who I’ve enjoyed speaking Spanish with. And the wonderful people who work at SCCAP that I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside of, who’ve given me the liberty to push myself and stretch my boundaries. And of course, my lovely housemates who’ve become some of my greatest friends and allies.
These parts of the internship are invaluable to me because I never expected them. I didn’t return to Gettysburg at the beginning of this summer thinking that I’d receive this wonderful gift of relationships that mean so much to me. I think that’s why it’s so hard to leave. It’s easy to leave behind a job, relationships are much harder. This summer wasn’t just about a job. We were supposed to integrate into the Adams County Community and the way I did that was to form personal relationships with the people I’ve come in contact with. I will be eternally grateful for these relationships but they are indeed why it’s so hard for me to be finished with this internship. These relationships are why I cried at the LIU on Thursday night, why I teared up while saying good bye to Emily this afternoon and why I got emotional when saying good bye to my housemates tonight.
I wanted to thank Jim Heston for this amazing experience. I don’t even have enough words to describe how great this experience is and how grateful I am to you. I also wanted to thank Kim and Gretchen for giving me this life changing opportunity.
It is now time for me to go home for a week. I return o Gettysburg on the 21st with two things on mind: CPS training and the poverty simulation!
6. The first time I’ve taken a test to tell me what career I should go into.
I should start this blog by saying that the career choice that was best for me was Social Services. I know. It’s a pretty big shocker. I wasn’t too surprised. Some of the other options were craft maker…or something along these lines. I assured Emily Rice-Townsend that if the test had actually asked me to make a craft, then it surely would not have suggested I become a craft maker.
I should probably explain why I took this test. Throughout the summer, I’ve been working on a Community Resource Guide for Educational Attainment and Job Development. I’ve been compiling information about financial aid applications, scholarship options, colleges in the Adams County area, growing careers, and specific places within Gettysburg where people with these careers would work. Part of this task included going to Careerlink and speaking with a few of the employees about the services they offer. One of their services is a career test that assesses your interests with your abilities to give you jobs that would be good for you. When I met with Alan Dudley and Brenda Meals (two employees), they told me that I could come back anytime and take the test so that I could accurately tell people about it.
Therefore, Emily and I ventured into Adams County’s Careerlink and tried to see what careers we were meant to pursue. We were put in a computer lab and told to follow the instructions, answer all the questions and come out when we were done so that we could meet with one of the case managers. The test was probably typical (I wouldn’t know because I’ve never taken one before). It took about an hour and included a lot of math problems, vocabulary words, shape matching, etc. I found the whole thing pretty fun but at the same time was a little frightened that it was going to tell me I should’ve gone into medicine or something.
When we met with Brenda Meals (a case manager) she told us that her casework currently includes 250 clients. That means she is currently working with 250 different people to find jobs based on their interests, education, abilities, previous work experience, etc. And she is not the only case manager in the office. I was baffled when I found out she had such a large caseload and I wondered how she manages to provide help to that many people in the course of one week. However, I was more baffled by the number of people out of work, desperate to find ways to get a job even if means starting over in a completely new career.
And I guess that’s really the point of the Community Resource Guide I’ve been working on. I grew up knowing that in order to get a job and support myself, I needed to go to college so that I could get a good job. Getting out of high school and starting to work immediately was never a long term option. I realize now that not everyone grows up with these values. There are a lot of things that are more important than going to college for a family in the midst of a crisis situation. And a lot of times, people don’t have the option of going to college right after high school.
But what does a person do when she’s been working on off for 10 years and is now unable to find a job that pays a high enough salary to support her family? Or what about the person that’s been working in the same place for years but hates his job and has to work more than 40 hours a week to make enough money to pay the bills?
The answer is that they need to return to college, to get some more training, take some certification classes. It’s a long term investment but really the only way to increase your salary, or move up. You would think the fact that college is so important to success in American society would make education more affordable. Unfortunately that’s not the case. of course, there are options that are more affordable than others but college is still really expensive and very time consuming.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I understand how hard it is for people to return to college, especially if they’ve been away from it for so long and are currently working full time jobs. For people living in poverty, it’s even harder to think about the long term benefits of a college education. As the summer wraps up, I leave hoping that the research I’ve done helps people (really anybody) just a little to realize the options they have to better their situation.
I really want to believe that some college education or training program can level the playing field for people living in poverty. I want to believe that an education helps take away some of the barriers that people face when trying to better their situation. I hope that the work I’ve done helps at least one person realize their potential.
I am crying now just thinking about the tearful good-bye that occured at the end of ESL class this evening! As Elle explained, it was extremely touching to see how much the students appreciated the help Aleks had given them over the past few weeks. However, it was even more touching to see how much her relationships with the LIU families meant to Aleks. And I think that’s something we’re all dealing with as our programs come to an end.
We are all so emotionally connected to the agencies with which we’ve been involved. Not only do we feel passionately about the values and missions of these agencies, but we’ve built relationships with the people we’ve come in contact with. Cam talked about how people just don’t care about certain causes or issues and I think the reason for this is because they have no emotional tie to the issue. The predominant view of people is that “if it doesn’t affect me, I don’t care about it.” If my hypothesis is right, the fact that we’re so sad to leave behind parts of the community shows just how successful this internship really was. The fact that it’s so hard for us to say good-bye shows just how much we care.
The five of us have been connected to the community, deeply and emotionally and there’s really nothing that could ever take that away. Yes, it is really sad to have to let someone else take our places in certain programs but that doesn’t change the emotional connection we feel to that program. And if you can get one person (or five Hestons) to care, there’s hope for widespreed community support. Hey. It may be cheesy but I want to believe it.