Minneapolis Flavor: September

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Minneapolis is a cool place guys. I've met a lot of new friends, discovered fun shops and pockets in the city, and am adjusting to this new rhythm of life after leaving New York City. Here are some photos I've gathered with short descriptions.

Sipping on coffee

A backyard bash in Powederhorn park and open mic night with a group of friends from church. Music, music, music! 


Enjoying my brother's football game and my cousin's soccer game. Fall sports are the best. Matt and Ariana are both seniors in high school and are stellar athletes!

Studying at Urban Bean coffee house.

Nannying these kids. 

Pictures: iphone only. 

City Year: What I Learned

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I graduated from City Year two months ago, but I still haven't taken too much time to reflect on it. Approximately 99% of the people I talk to have no idea what City Year is.  Most people know what Americorps is, which gets us somewhere when I explain City Year, but confusion is still present in most of my conversations, which is understandable.
"City what?" (I feel like I always have to yell the name.)
"Why do you wear that jacket? Why do you wear a uniform?"
"oh, like Teach for America? My friend did TFA."
"I thought you do Americorps after you graduate college?"
"Do you teach?"
Those are the kind of comments I hear all the time. I'm not going to specifically answer those in this post, but if you would like to know what City Year is, check out their website here or go to my sidebar and click the label City Year. You'll find lots of past posts from over the course of this year.

Coming into this year-
I'm a fan of challenges and hard work, but I also like to see fruit at the end, but there honestly wasn't a ton of that, or at least the kind of "fruit" I expected. Pretty much all the views I had at the beginning of the year about education were shifted because of this experience. I saw first-hand how poisonous public education can be and I realized how complicated it is to bring change and reform. For the record, it's very complicated to bring reform. I definitely didn't realize that coming into it.  

Teamwork is hard work
Going into this year, I thought the team aspect of City Year would be the easiest... nope. I mean I've played on sports teams, I've gone on many team mission trips, I felt like I knew what to expect being on a team. City Year BOASTS about the fact they create the most diverse teams possible, and that's what they did. Yes, for a good portion of the day I worked exclusively with my 6th grade class and I didn't have to directly work with my team, but we ran an after school program together and that required us to be a well-oiled machine. A tight-knit one, too. Communication needed to be excellent, energy-levels needed to be high, and flexibility wasn't an option. More times than not those components were missing, and after school was a struggle. We still pushed through, but there were many disagreements, misunderstandings, and minor problems that would arise during the after school space. There's no doubt that I enjoyed my team. We were friends and we hung out together outside of work. However, just because you're friends with people, doesn't mean you work well with someone. I think we all know this. This year I learned it. And yet, if we didn't have problems as a team I would probably be concerned that the work we were doing was too easy. Conflict, to a degree, is natural and should be worked through. 

Below is a picture of my City Year team at the beginning of they year and then at the end of the year. If it looks like there are fewer people in the second picture, there is. There was a lot of "refining" that happened. 

Students aren't predictable!
I wasn't quite sure how to phrase this. I was thinking about saying, students will mess with your emotions, or students can make you laugh, cry, and smack the table all at the same time. Students aren't predictable definitely sums up what I'm trying to get across.
1. Staying Occupied: When kids are in class they need you to be at your best and have a bunch of exciting things planned for them to enjoy class time. I thought the same would be true in the outside space, but it's NOT. Kids want you to leave them alone when they're outside. They stay busy and they stay happy. They might not be doing the most productive thing, but they know how to entertain themselves. When after school started, we had a bunch of games planned because I was worried riots would start, but I guess they didn't need that. This is just one surprising thing I realized about kids' work habits. 
2. Fighting, arguing, and swearing are normal: It felt like those behaviors ran in their blood. Oh, this was the worst for me. Whenever there was class work time, there was bickering. Lunch time was hell.  It just felt like no matter what happened, students would have problems with one another. When do kids grow out of this?!? What's so hard about communicating in a civil manner?! 

The day to day stuff is still good stuff:
Working in the classroom can get tiring because of the everyday tasks that you have to do everyday: tutor, collect papers, check homework, etc. Yet, those are necessary things and kids and teachers still need that stuff for a successful classroom. Thus it's still good and makes a difference, even though it might sometimes be boring. 
I heart this. 

A career in teaching might not be for me
In high school I wrote many times in my journal that I plan to be a teacher. I was set on it, and it seemed like a career I would enjoy. I wanted to do City Year as a way to gain some classroom experience, beef up my resume, and hopefully absorb a few teaching skills. While I did gain some of those things I realized that teaching is much harder than I thought it would be and working with older students doesn't totally jive with my personality type. At the end of the year my boss told me she envisions me being an excellent kindergarten teacher in the future. At the surface this is a nice compliment, but if you look at it on a deeper level, it also means that I struggled working with the middle school crowd. And I did, but we all did. I know I had successful moments and I know I had challenging moments. 

OR ( a completely different thought on my future career)

A career in teaching might not be for me (yet)
I really want to experience diverse, challenging, exciting, etc. things in my lifetime. Going to college and then going straight into a teaching career seems so restricting to me.  I don't want to be forced to do the standard path that most people do, which is: go to college, get a job just because that's what you should do. With that said, I can tell people that I want to be a teacher when I "grow up," but I don't really want to be a teacher right away. I want to travel, work in the ministry field, try other ventures... there's so much out there to try. I'm not committed to really any long-term career plan at this point in my life. But hey, this could change as fast as my plan to do City Year came about. I'm just thankful that I don't feel the pressure to have life "figured" out. Life should be more of a journey. 

I am so thankful God allowed me to do City Year. It was the perfect thing for me.   

The hardest part {transitions}

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I've been back in Minnesota for a week and a half now and the transition has been relatively smooth. However, I'm currently feeling pretty sick. I'm assuming it's allergies or a sinus infection. I can still function as normal, I just have a sick voice, slightly inflamed eyes, and searing pain when I try to do push-ups (which I drop down and do all the time! kidding).
Back to being "back." The thing that has been throwing me off is the emptiness, quiet, and lack of activity. I hear crickets instead of car horns at night. I can walk around and not pass ANYONE. I don't even live in the suburbs. I live in South Minneapolis, minutes away from downtown. Now this isn't devastating by any means, but it's a bit of a shock to my system and I don't love it.  

Powderhorn park at Midday:
Do you see people? I sure don't.
 Central Park at Midday:
People. Lots of them.

Maybe I'll start to appreciate the quiet. My college campus has a lot of people, which has been good, but the day-to-day quietness of Minneapolis (compared to NYC) is weird. 

I guess I no longer have to put up with long lines for simple things like french fries, crowded subway stations at all hours, Timesquare, and NYC tour buses. 

Ohh, but all those things make NYC so special! I miss it.

One more comparison:
Minneapolis vs. (Wham!) New York City.... they don't even compare.

But! I'm here in Minneapolis and I'm going to choose to find joy in it. I'm supposed to be here and there are many good things about it. And so far, I've enjoyed many things including: the state fair, gardens, and Minneapolis sunsets.

Here's to a great semester!
(just like that, I'm jolly again. Blogging can boost my attitude)

Taking a look at my goals {2014}

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The year is well over a half over and I wanted to evaluate how I was doing on the goals, or should I say... aspirations I set for myself.

Let's see what we have:

Run a half marathon. 
This one just doesn't look like it will happen. Now, I could sign up for a half-marathon and just hope that I train and prepare for it, but that would be futile. Over the summer I ran a bit with a friend who was training for a real marathon. I ran six miles with her and that's it. I could technically say I met this goal by 45%.
Learn more about coding. Building websites is fascinating.
I'm starting a class with Thinkful very soon, so I'll be able to check this one off if everything goes as planned.
Tour the east coast! I have only seen New York so far. The states are so close, I should really be able to see more. 
I went to Connecticut and Boston. I wouldn't say that's a "tour," but it was something. I also went on an East Coast roadtrip to Florida.
Help all my students pass the 6th grade. This would be amazing, yet the chances are low. 
Guys, this happened! With the exception of one student, this happened!
Visit 5 museums in New York. 
Balance social media use. I probably use Facebook and Instagram too much, but I don't use Twitter and City really wants us to be Twitter users, I just don't have the time. I would like to balance the 3 out.
This was a dumb goal.
It was too vague and I'm not sure what I was going for. Yes, I now sometimes use Twitter. Bravo. I love Instagram, and that probably won't change.
ABP (Always be purging) I like having a clean and clutter-free apartment and I want to keep it that way in 2014. This requires throwing things out and donating things before they get too comfortable in our place.
yep. Moving three times in a year makes this easy.
Write more letters and send more postcards. Mail is the best! 
I've done okay at this. I haven't done amazing, but definitely okay.
Read the bible every morning. I'm not consistent enough.
I wish I could say yes.
Focus on photography. Maybe this will be the year that I purchase my own DSLR camera. Otherwise, I'll still work on photography with other cameras or my iPhone. 
The iPhone is just soo easy.
Travel abroad. London and India are on my mind. 
Now is not the time for this. The future. Another dumb  unrealistic goal.
Do something in the for-profit field. I have always done non-profit work and babysitting. I want to mix it up a little. Even if it's for a few months in the summer. 
I can't escape babysitting and nannying for the life of me.
Shop local. I want to know where my money is going, and who it's supporting. 
Yes, yes! I've also become good at shopping online from sellers I like and trust. I'm not a big shopper, but I buy with purpose as much as possible.
Eat at a restaurant in my neighborhood (in East Harlem).
Yes, Camaradas El Barrio on 1st Ave between 116th and 117th (those numbers mean nothing to you).

Keep in mind this was just a "check in." I'll do a better and more comprehensive evaluation at the end of the year. I'm glad I looked at this list now though. I kind of wish I set better goals. Some of these are interesting, but some of them are just silly... in a stupid way. 

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