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.
Building Community and Conversation: BEAM’s Walking Tour of Olneyville
Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring Program (BEAM) is one of the Swearer Center’s community partnerships. The program aims to help facilitate after-school programming activities and mentorship between students at William D’Abate Elementary School with students at Brown. The school is located in the heart of Olneyville, a neighborhood on the west side of Providence bordering the Woonasquatucket River.
In past semesters, the focal point of BEAM was directed towards the student end of the relationship: how the Brown student community was working within the program to incite positive social change. This semester, the Community Fellows and BEAM organizers shifted the focus towards the community partnership piece of BEAM’s mission by introducing new avenues by which volunteers could actively contextualize their work and build socially conscious and critical understanding.
Our tours were led by critical members of the D’Abate community: Abe Hernandez, Program Aid and Community Leader in Olneyville, and Dilania Inoa, Program Manager for Elementary and Middle School Programs at the Swearer Center. While walking through the neighborhood, Abe and Dilania introduced students to various community organizations that have helped build and continue to sustain Olneyville through the years.
We learned what inroads Youth Build Providence and the Olneyville Housing Corporation have made on the infrastructural foundations of Olneyville and how relationships between the community and these groups have changed and remained the same throughout the years. We also got a chance to speak to Lorraine Burns, Director of the Olneyville Food Center. She recounted the history behind the Center and how its role has expanded to accommodate for Olneyville’s increase in population.
Rather than a unilateral lecture on the community, the tour created an active dialogue between students and the community leaders, students interacting with and physically occupying community space. Having a dialogue, rather than a one-way conversation, served to ground our volunteers within the community—rather than other the community orienting itself around us. What’s more, we even had the pleasure of running into one of our students from D’Abate at the Riverside Park Playground complex at the end of our tour. Seeing the students interact with what was then a new community for some of our volunteers made this walking tour even more meaningful.
We hope this video gives you a glimpse into how our mission manifested in one of the two tours we conducted in the Fall 2015 semester. We hope that through these tours, our volunteers are able to actively build more complex and nuanced understandings between their positionality as Brown students and the various social, economic, and political underpinnings of the work that they do and the communities they serve.
The walking tour is but a small portion of what BEAM hopes to build on in terms of the community engagement and partnership piece of our mission—but it’s a start nonetheless. We hope that by mindfully building on extant activities and methods, we can maintain an ever-constant hope in the collaborative and productive nature of our partnership between Brown students and the communities we work with.
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