Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Experiences in Denver with Admirable People by Chelsea Brown

I match stride with my supervisor walking next to me, while gazing above at the colossal white building with symmetrical pillars which is our destination. We reach the front door, ring the bell, and are allowed to enter. After signing in and receiving nametags, we head to the counseling center for a meeting full of concerned and dedicated parents and employees. This impressive building is actually a public school placed in the near northeastern area of Denver. The Cole Arts & Science Academy, known by the students, parents, and teachers as CASA, currently provides opportunities for 540 preschool through eighth grade kids.
However, when looking at the numbers more closely, you will find that the statistics transform into an animated portrayal of life in this neighborhood. Approximately 93% of the kids attending CASA receive Free and Reduced Lunch, 94% of the kids are minorities, and 50% are English Language Learners. These high percentages describing students at CASA reveal only a glimpse of the realities they face; yet it shows that these kids deal with more stress and obstacles than I have ever experienced in my small hometown in rural Iowa.
The outward appearance of this school is grand and elaborate, representing both the hope of a well-fought-for education and the despair of challenges faced by the students inside struggling to overcome the barriers put up by poverty, discrimination, and stigma.
You may be thinking that I am being overly dramatic; however, I feel that the amount of emotion that I put behind words can never present the actuality of the situation in Denver. The community members I have met through my internship would want me to tell their story with the same pain and passion expressed in the struggle of their everyday lives. Not because they want to be felt sorry for, but because they want to fight for change for their families and communities.
At my internship at Together Colorado I have seen a lot of diversity, fear, tears, and unjust situations. I have also seen incredible strength, hope for changed situations, and powerful new ideas. The most important thing I have learned thus far as a community organizer is this: it is our job to listen as a fellow human being and to encourage and empower.

(Statistics found from http://media.dpsk12.org/enrollmentsnapshots/ES188.PDF)

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Adventures Bring New Opportunities by Katie Reinhardt

The first week has almost come to a close here in Denver and I would have to say it has been a success. As I begin my internship placement at Comedy Works, I have so much to look forward to. I know the time will fly by while we are busy with schoolwork, internships, and exploring the city. The first couple days were a little overwhelming; all I could think about was that I will be living and working in this city for almost four months! Wow! What a change it is from small town Waverly, where I have lived all of my life. Since being here for two weeks now, I have begun to feel more at home. Thank goodness!

Denver is said to be a place with many opportunities that bring many different people together. As I walk down the streets, I have noticed that there are an abundance of homeless people asking for money while locals and tourists walk right on by. It just goes to show that there are so many different lives being lived here, from poor people to middle income to the wealthy. It is all here. That is what I find interesting about this city is that you can literally find whoever from block to block. One might say that Colfax, the street we live on is one that you don’t want to travel by yourself; I would say it is one of those streets where you can find everything; modern buildings, dirty parts, poor stores, etc. Just walking this street truly opens my eyes to what else is out in the world that I have been na├»ve to.

I am so excited to what this experience here in Denver will teach me. I am ready for new adventures and new opportunities that will help me grow as a student and person. Bring it on Denver!