26 Jun

I genuinely cannot believe that it’s been 4 weeks already. How? Surely, July will pass just as quickly- especially since the work is starting to amount and move at a pretty fast pace. Yet, I love it. I love all of it. I love Oakland, with a special appreciation for West Oakland. I love Prescott-Joseph Center. I love my housemates. I love the feeling of going home every afternoon. I love our laughter, tears, silence, and community. This experience is truly precious.

Initially- I was extremely intimidated by the work I was expected to do. I had to sit with my emotions every morning before coming to work, assuring myself to ask questions, request feedback and support, and find passion in the work I’ve been doing. Soon enough, that passion was found. Dr. Burns has granted me access to a variety of meetings, tasks, and interactions with local leaders who all work with the same passion and drive to community enhancement and growth of opportunities. It has been in these encounters where I have been able to put a face and a need to the work that I am doing.

The Family Resource Center will serve the West Oakland community well beyond anything I can conceptualize and imagine at this stage. Truly, I feel honored to have some input and impact in its development. I have been working on the development of a volunteer program to be put in action once programming and structure of the FRC is more in place. The more and more I work on it, the more excited and motivated I get. I am happy that Dr. Burns has the same passion and drive for the development of a volunteer program as well! Beyond this, I will begin the research needed for a Child Development Center, which will include a visit to a pre-school. As I complete all of this, I’ll also aim to develop an outline/action plan for potential desired and needed programming for the residents of West Oakland once the FRC is in place. It’s a lot. Yet, there’s not one part of this that I don’t want to accomplish. PJC has grabbed me in a special way- they truly deserve to have this work done.

Aside from all of the technical, applicable things I have learned as I proceed with my To Do lists every day- such as time management (haha!), I’ve learned a lot more. I’ve learned pain, sadness, fear, anger, joy, love, rejection, solidarity, community, strategy, hope, vision, and so much more. I have learned from every person I encounter, every meeting I’ve sat on, every new organization I research, my co-workers, Dr. Burns, David, and more. This community has given me so much insight, rich knowledge and experience, and a look into the beauty and historical transcendence of West Oakland- which brings both joy and pain to many. It’s been a true honor to have engaged in the conversations I have engaged in, and to be surrounded daily by passionate folks who dedicate their lives to this work.

I now see my work as much more than researching, reading, planning, organizing, and creating documents. It’s beautiful, priceless, challenging, and motivating.

I am not too sure what I’ll continue to learn as I go on with these next weeks. All I know is that it will all be such a treasure. I’ve reflected and learned more than I could have genuinely imagined for myself. I will continue to listen, ask, and support all who I work with. I will continue to connect with all who I encounter. I will continue to not be afraid of sitting with their sadness, fear, anger, happiness, laughter, and more. Nor, will I be afraid to sit with my own, or those of my housemates. For, in doing this, I’ve found such love and admiration for this experience.

These four weeks have been liberating, to say the least.

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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in 2014 Ariana Alvarez


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