Four weeks have passed, and I can’t believe I am halfway through the Fellowship. I will be forever grateful for the people I have encountered, the stories I have heard, and the moments I experienced. This eight-week program is way too short for me, and I am constantly challenging myself to learn something new every day, whether it be about myself, someone else, or society. After working a lot with children for the past 2 years, St. Mary’s Center has allowed me to immerse myself with seniors and the struggles they face. I noticed that issues involving children has a lot to do with quality of resources, whereas issues regarding seniors is about the decrease in resources and attention.
On Tuesday, I was able to go to a hearing for Oakland’s Board of Supervisors involving budget cuts. I was representing St. Mary’s Center along with many others who want to advocate for seniors. Funds for community based organizations and other groups are planning to be cut. During the hearing, I was able to see how much funding was targeted for children, youth, adults, and seniors in a pie chart. Both youth and seniors covered less than 1/8 of the chart together. I learned that these two groups are beginning to fall in the background even when it comes to social justice and equity. Many organizations and programs are not focused on these two groups, and the government/city also does not allocate sufficient funds for them to receive decent services. These two groups are continuing to grow in numbers, while the resources decrease.
Before the program, I was solely interested in quality education and giving children the tools to succeed instead of setting them up to fail, but there are so many areas in social justice and equity that I need to learn about. I have increased my awareness with another marginalized group in society, but I also realized that there are many other focuses that need just as much care and support. For the next coming weeks, I want to increase my awareness, and also immense myself in Oakland’s culture/community. Every day I learn more and more about what citizenship means, and how there’s a lot of people in the community caring for each other even when they don’t have much or are also struggling. I have hope and faith in the community that change will happen with patience.