Five weeks of the Summer Service Partnership is now complete, and reflecting back on the experience thus far I feel very positive. I love all my team members and feel very blessed to have the opportunity to work with them. I am impressed by our high school leaders who are much braver and more articulate than I was at that age. We have a lot of fun together and my days have been filled with lots of laughter. Something I have really enjoyed on our neighborhood days are the speakers we have been able to hear from who work at the Chicago Family Health Clinic. We have heard from a chronic care nurse, a perinatal nurse, a nutritionist, and a social worker, all of whom are very passionate about the work that they do. Learning more about the work that goes on at a federally qualified health center is of particular interest to me, because I hope to become a primary care physician and work in underserved areas, perhaps at an FQHC.
Some places in South Chicago that I love are the schools and the South Chicago Art Center. We were lucky to have the chance to work with some youth at New Sullivan Elementary School and to participate in some of the programs at the Art Center. We are hoping to partner with the art center on our final project, which will be beautifying the area around the art center’s community garden. Last Thursday we met with Alderman Pope of Ward 10 and he has agreed to replace the sidewalk leading up to the garden, which is currently broken, raised, and covered in plant growth. He will also be providing the area with some free trash carts, and is willing to put us in touch with discounted materials for building a fence and seating area. We are just waiting for input from the Art Center’s directors before we finalize the plan. Our time is limited, but I am excited to get started!
In general I think I have learned more about community work and about small-scale advocacy. Meeting with Alderman Pope was actually the first time I have set up a meeting with a politician, and I think that is a very valuable experience and skill to have. I have really enjoyed getting outside of Hyde Park and learning about a different neighborhood, because most of the school year feels like I am living in a bubble. The whole group days have been a lot of fun and I really enjoy working with the other high school students and the fellow mentors, who are all amazing people. Overall, at this mid-point I am feeling grateful and positive.