Methma is a Volunteer Representative for Swearer Tutoring and Enrichment in Math and Sciences (STEMS). As a VR, Methma helps plan weekly meetings for the tutors, which are intended to provide Brown tutors with tools to work more effectively, through tutoring skills, knowledge of current education policy, discussions on the role of a tutor in a classroom, or information about the Providence Public School system. She is currently tutoring in a physics class.
Breaking A Brick Wall
Every January, 35 Brown students live together in a church in downtown Providence to explore and engage with local issues such as homelessness, healthcare, urban education, refugees, and environmental justice. Unlike many break projects that focus on direct service, Winter Break Projects focuses on investigation and collaborative learning. Here a student reflects on a day spent in the "Labor and Immigration" project.
This entire week has been so incredibly enlightening. We've explored a lot of different barriers undocumented students face from human rights to employment opportunities, but what we explored today really hit home for me: education.
We met with the executive director of Blackstone Academy, a charter school in Pawtucket. She was an incredibly engaging, passionate woman, but what really struck me was the story she told about this one student who was an immigrant, high-achieving, all-around amazing person. Come junior year, college prep time, it came out that he was undocumented. Concurrently, a class at Blackstone Academy was doing a project on immigration which led to an awakening of students coming out as undocumented.
As an immigrant myself, I identify with many of the barriers we've learned about including language and being among the first in my family to go to college. Many of the students at Blackstone Academy actually from my place of birth, Colombia. It really saddened me to realize that I've lived a parallel life to these students. We were probably raised with the same values and raised to have the same strong work ethic, only they've been barred from the opportunities I've had because of some arbitrary status.
When I was growing up, my dad would always tell me "Todo en la vida tiene solución": Everything in life has a solution. This has basically been my life philosophy ever since in tandem with "this too shall pass." Up until this point, it had been true. The more we delved into these issues though, the more I felt like I had found the first counterexample.
Social justice work, overall, I've found to have a pretty high burnout. Often times it can feel like trying to break down a brick wall with plastic cutlery. Meeting with the people we have though, has been truly inspiring. What to me would have been the first detrimental counterexample to my life philosophy, has actually motivated millions to push back in a nationwide movement for comprehensive immigration reform. A student we talked to today actually testified in front of the Board of Governors for Higher Education. The executive director of Blackstone Academy partnered with Dorcas International Institute and an immigration lawyer, going above and beyond to help meet the needs of her students. The director of the College Advising Corps plans strategically so that even in the face of uncertainty with her undocumented students, she is prepared.
Though this week was emotionally taxing, it was incredibly refreshing to be surrounded by people who are so committed to the work they were doing with such positive energy. It was really a great way to start the semester.
June 20, 2016
June 13, 2016"I think about opening my mouth to call out goodbye, or to salute her in a traditional sign language farewell. Instead, I stand silently and smile."
Sally Hosokawa is a Community Fellow for Writers’ Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that facilitates creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities. She studies literary translation in the Comparative Literature Department.
May 14, 2016“Club teachers understand us,” she says. “Even though they’re older, they’re not that much older, and so they’re like us and we can identify with them and talk to them about our problems.”
Addy is a volunteer with the Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring Program (BEAM), a Swearer Center community partnership that facilitates after-school programing activities and mentorship between Brown volunteers and students at William D’Abate Elementary School in the Olneyville neighborhood.
February 22, 2016
Pia is a junior double-concentrating in Education Studies and Comparative Literature. This is her third year with Writers' Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that offers creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities, and her first year as a Swearer Center Community Fellow.
February 19, 2016I was intrigued by the program, but very intimidated by some of the topics. I’ve never been in the position to talk about gender or sexuality or rape culture.
Tiara came into Brown dead set on studying Neuroscience. After a summer or working with the local Planned Parenthood branch and taking health based classes she realized public health was her real calling. She has been volunteering for the SHAPE (Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education) program since sophomore year.
February 16, 2016