Saturday: First day of AB

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Made it to B-more!!!

Yesterday, Saturday March 18th, the A-Bmore team all met at UMD and departed for our AB trip around noon! With our vans packed with duffel bags and sleeping bags, we were excited to finally head to Baltimore! Since we’re relatively close, the one hour car ride wasn’t that bad, definitely bearable. We made it safely to our home for the week, Lovely Lane Church, at around 2pm. We were given a tour of the beautiful and historic church and were all surprised! We’re sharing the church with another school but they didn’t come yet so we had the church to ourselves last night. After the tour, we settled in and made some lunch, getting accustomed to our duties and workspace. After that, we headed to Safeway to pick up some last minute groceries. We then headed back to the church for some reflection time, going over our community guidelines, getting our t-shirts (free clothes, woohoo), and doing some group bonding activities. We had to fill out a template that had various sentences regarding our upbringing, and it was formulated in a way that allowed us all to have some laughs and also some insight into our lives. This all happened in the church’s library, which is a cute and reflective workspace. When we finished with our reflection, we headed to our room for free time. Some of us decided to read a book, some napped and some couldn’t give up the electronics and headed to Netflix (cough, me). Halfway into our free time, the assigned chefs for the night went to go cook dinner. We all ended up a little too excited and almost everyone went down to go help with dinner. There were some performances, including singing and dancing during the making of dinner, which made it nothing but more fun. For dinner, we had pasta with sauce and salad. We all ate dinner in the community room and then before we got the ‘itis’, we went back to our room to have a game night. We played Mafia, which revealed some good liars, and various other icebreaker games. After a couple hours of talking and playing, we all decided to sleep for the night. After showering and getting comfortable, we ended up sleeping around 10-11pm. Great first night in Baltimore & nothing but excited to see what the rest of the week brings us!!

Faduma A.

February Pre-Trip Service

On Saturday February 18th, we volunteered at A Wider Circle in Silver Spring, MD. A Wider Circle, founded in 2001, is an organization that provides free clothing, furniture, and career readiness training to those in need. They do amazing work and I’m so glad that they’re located near our community! Our main duty as volunteers that day involved the many donations that the organization receives from the public. When we arrived at A Wider Circle’s facilities, we were split into three groups. The first group sorted children’s clothing, the second group sorted housewares, and the third group helped remove donations from the donators’ cars. I was in the group that sorted children’s clothing, which I really enjoyed doing. Something I really love about A Wider Circle is that they have high standards for the donations they accept. They don’t allow broken or stained donations to be put in the showroom for families to browse. I’ve worked with other organizations before that gave items to those in need that were not of good quality, but luckily that was far from true with A Wider Circle. Most of the clothing I saw was top-quality and I know parents will appreciate finding them. It was so nice to volunteer as a group and I can’t wait until we leave for Baltimore later this week! – Cameryn

 

 

February Team Meeting

We recently had another team meeting this past Thursday, and it was really wonderful to see everyone again after break! We also had a few new faces, so it was great to get to see them for the first time as well. We started our meeting off with a game called Sneetches. In this game, everyone is asked the same question and is only allowed a one word (or short phrase) answer, with no explanations or qualifications. At the end, everyone says who surprised them the most, who they want to learn more about, things like that. Some of the questions included:

What do you most like to do with a free hour?

What is your best quality? What is your worst quality?

What has been the most challenging moment in your life?

What is your favorite book?

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

We all really liked this game, and I thought it was great for all of us to get to know each other better. After that, we all played on playspent.org. This is a website that takes you through a month of living in impoverished conditions, and you have to see if you can make it through the month. As we found out, the game was created specifically for Baltimore, so it was interesting and challenging to try to live with decisions like: With $200 in the bank for the rest of the month, do you pay your rent for $300 or do you skip out a month and pay nothing? Or if your child is embarrassed to be on food stamps, do you spend $5 a day to let them buy their lunch or do you make them use the food stamps anyway?

We reflected on this activity, and everyone was astounded and taken aback. As one person put it, it was hard enough to make these decisions in a game. Making these decisions in real life would be even more challenging.

Then, we talked about trying to do the SNAP Challenge on our experience. The SNAP Challenge involves only spending $4.40 per day per person on food. This is the same amount that you would receive if you were on food stamps. We decided to take the challenge 🙂

Finally, we chatted about some more logistics of our trip and the last few things we need to do before we have our experience.

Hopefully the next blog post will be about our pre-trip service, so stay tuned!

From: Kinsey

November Team Meeting

At our first team meeting, we started off with an ice breaker to tell each other our one-minute life story  (pass along a rope with one knot, must continue talking about yourself until the knot gets back to you). Always a fun way to get to know people for the first time and to egg each other on with silly questions by the end.

We then went over our Community Guidelines that would become our leading principles throughout our meetings, reflections, and trip service. I especially liked being “YES” people, meaning that we would always try to be as willing and up to do anything as possible, and having phones turned on airplane mode during service, so that we aren’t distracted by incoming texts and playing games throughout our time working and learning in Baltimore.

Finally, one of our last activities was watching the TED talk: “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’d never seen it before, but many of our participants had actually already watched it multiple times. It was an awesome TED talk that really resonates with our AB core mission, and in general, the current environment that our society is going through. (Also, Chimamanda has really nice voice and it was super soothing to hear her speak).

Next December meeting will hopefully be a chill study break for all of us, and until then, we plan to stay engaged through our GroupMe and this blog 🙂

From: Michelle

 

Podcasts: Rise of Charm City

Baltimore: The Rise of Charm City is a 30-minute audio documentary series featuring the oral histories of businesses, landmarks, and neighborhoods in Baltimore City. Our production team travels to various places around the city to interview proprietors, entrepreneurs, historians, students, and other city residents about the memories they associate with each place. Click here to listen to the podcasts, especially the first episode about redevelopment initiatives.