By Mykia Smith
Our first day at Overbrook was a good day. After all the anticipation we got to put a name to the faces that we will be serving during our week in Philly. There is a difference between talking about a population of people and immersing yourself within that population. I saw students today not in their uniform, I saw students not in class, and I heard students use inappropriate language; but I also saw students hold open doors, show respect to their administrators, and delve deep into discussion with serious questions about what it means to get a higher education and what it means to have a better life. So often we think of people in unfortunate situations as “others” and attribute their disadvantages as a product of who they are. We saw firsthand today that this is not the case. These students are no different from me as they are from each other; in a system that is currently changing and failing them we see why it is important to have community and non-profit organizations step in attempt to pick up where the school system has disappointed them.
As a result of today I have learned of the dangers of being closed minded. To have come into Overbrook and immediately written off these students as lazy and not caring about their education, and had seen myself as their savior, would have been false and ignorant. I appreciate my experience today because it allowed me to learn about myself in how I regard others, how I stand up for what I believe in and how I express myself. I have learned from my ASB Philly family to be patient, to allow a safe space for others to express themselves, and how dangerous it could be to assume that you know what the best way to “serve” someone is. I have learned from the students why it is so important to dig deeper and to motivate and encourage students and educators. Educators and students are some of the most important people in society in that students are the future policy makers and leaders of society and educators are those people that influence and shape these students. We have to provide these students and educators with the proper resources to engage in a effective learning environment because without them society would surely cease to exist.
To get back specifically on topic what I have learned in my 2 days on this trip have provided with me with an insight and information that I could have only gotten here. I am truly grateful for my experience here and I cannot wait for tomorrow. :)