Summer was winding down, my internship was wrapping up and my year-long study abroad was approaching all at the same time and it was pretty overwhelming for me. I’m not new to different stresses happening simultaneously but as I get older, these stresses carry more weight and more significance.
One of my skillset goals this summer was to strengthen my ability to multitask, to know how equitably distribute effort and attention to the varying/conflicting tasks in my life. I believe by the end of the summer and the internship, while I felt split between being completely immersed at work and being completely immersed in the preparation of my leaving, I really found my own process of multitasking.
Although I worked every day, most of my hours were remote so I started each week organizing my work requirements between tasks that were feasible to complete while I was en route to different appointments and tasks that demanded single-minded focus and a non-distracting environment. This allowed me to move more seamlessly and deliberately between work and the inevitable pace of life.
I feel very fortunate to have been in a nurturing workspace that I felt comfortable to be transparent with my ‘higher-ups’ without sacrificing work boundaries. I was able to talk more freely with my bosses about how I could best be completing tasks because I was in a space that didn’t make me feel as though personalism and professionalism were mutually exclusive
My hours are scattered throughout the day and sometimes I’m in the office and sometimes I’m not, and sometimes I work with the other college/Kids N’ Culture alum, Rachel and sometimes I don’t. I’ve found that depending on the project or task, there is a clear correlation between my environment and my effectiveness.
Rachel and I have been working on a new fundraising proposal for in-classroom Kids N’ Culture curriculum workshops across the country. These workshops are free of charge to the teachers and schools participating in the workshops, but they are expensive. Rachel and I have been using A-B testing to see which email is better received from donors and new-comers.
Rachel and I get along really well and it has been so comforting to have another intern (the same age as me) to navigate the areas where I am unsure of how to go forward on my own. We are test subjects for each other of what works best as future professionals and how other our unique work style can collaborate.
This is Rachel at one of our meetings with the student ambassadors leaving for Ecuador.
The last couple of weeks have been organizing, emailing, 1v1 meetings, and leadership meetings. It doesn’t feel hectic though. I’m finally using and paying attention to my Google Calendar and my mentor keeps in contact through an app called Trello.
I am emailing different city educators and public schools to make contact for prospective students and sites for Kids N’ Culture in-classroom curriculums. This is allowing me to reach out to my past high school, middle, and even elementary school teachers to get them hip to a program that is truly beneficial for the students in their classrooms. I think the opportunity to travel and foster a multi-cultural lens is so needed for our ability to empathize and connect with people different from ourselves. This sort of message is what I get to personally articulate to some of the most academically monumental women in my life. It’s been a really cool experience just in that small way.
I also attended the last three enrichment meetings for the 2019 summer trip to Ecuador. It was just lucky timing that I worked in Guayaquil, Ecuador last summer as a creative writing (in Spanish) and English immersion volunteer. This allowed me to participate in these meetings with a more intimate perspective. These are academic and cultural and personal enrichment meetings.
The first meeting was in a various conference room in the Buzzfeed building by Union Sq. The students sat in uniforms and comfy clothes around a long table and we discussed the literary difference between the “Single Story” and the “Story of Me.” I used notes from my Memoirs/Essay and Creative Non-Fiction courses to make a worksheet to help the students understand how to write their own “Story of Me,” which is a program fulfillment requirement.
The last two meetings were in Harlem on 115th and Lenox Avenue, right in between the 2/3 and the 6 train. Only 4 blocks up from me. The building is called Street Squash, which is college preparation and squash training tied together in one program. The meetings primarily focused on the logistics of the trip itself: what to pack, what to leave at home, what sim card to use, what kind of bag to carry daily, what adaptor to bring. I made a cheat sheet called “Spanish language: travel edition” for the students to practice together and independently. It included common phrases, pro-nouns and possessive nouns, quick vocabulary, and specific Ecuador slang (like “que cheveré = how cool”).
Kids N’ Culture is a non-profit working hard to give inner-city students the opportunity to go abroad. These are personally selected students that possess the desire to expand their cultural comfort zones and the curiosity to learn the realities of another country. I was fortunate enough to have been one of these students in my junior year of high school and it undoubtedly sparked a drive to continue living with a global citizen perspective. I remember writing in my application “we are bound by the borders we make and I’m not sure if we want to keep people out, as much as we want to keep people in” regarding immigration policies. I remember articulating how borders provide literal and figurative implications for the individual and collective perception of who belongs to a country.
I’ve pushed myself to find authentic means of experiencing and challenging the notion of borders ever since.
Now having the chance to assist this organization in broadening the world for more city students to come feels like the most rewarding way to spend my time. I am excited to directly witness and participate in the day to day functions that are essential to running Kids N’ Culture and any other non-profit.
I really am just thanking my lucky stars for aligning me in such a beautiful opportunity like this.