On Monday, Jasmine and I got the unique and rewarding experience of participating with the summer 2013 Heston interns here at Gettysburg on their orientation ‘quest’.
First, a quick overview of what the Heston interns do: they work through CPS to engage in local and global contexts focusing on daily community development and social issues by working for a host organization. Their are Heston interns in Nicaragua, Kenya, and Gettysburg. As part of the orientation for the Gettysburg interns, they had to participate in a “Gettysburg Quest”.
For this quest, we were sent out to three different social action organizations within the community, with a series of stops in between for discussion. The first place we went to was the Adams County Office for Aging, where we met with the director, Steve. He told us about the services they offer to all Adams County residents over the age of 60. What was really surprising (in a good way) was that the average amount of time their employees have worked there is 15 years. Most social work organizations don’t tend to have such long-term employers because it can be difficult work. This place is obviously well run and the employees are passionate about what they do. As we walked in, there was a group of older people applying for “Veggie Vouchers” which they can redeem at local farmer’s markets! Yay for healthy, fresh food.
Our second stop was with Marilyn and Jorge who develop the Migrant Education Programs for the Lincoln Intermediate Unit. They told us about the vast number of migrant workers in Adams County (mainly because of the amount of produce and fieldwork jobs most of the year) and the difficulties their children face in getting schooling. They run a fantastic 3-week summer school program for students of all ages, as well as a soccer camp, and year-round additional schooling and tutoring. They shared some sad stories too though about Mexican immigrants in the area who have had a really tough time surviving without citizenship. It made us think more about our country’s immigration laws.
Our last stop was at SCCAP (South Central Community Action Programs), an organization that provides services to the poor and working lower class. Some of these services include child day care assistance, weatherization of homes, Campus Kitchens, employment services, homeless shelters, nutrition programs, and a program called Circles, which helps families evaluate their own situations, develop goals for themselves and a three year plan in which to carry it out. I realized that I’d really like to do some volunteering at SCCAP after our meeting there.
We proceeded to go out to lunch, then returned to CPS to have a discussion on what we learned, found surprising, etc. from the field trip as well as did an activity about stereotypes where we listed everything we saw and/or assumed about another person in the room. I think having real conversations about poverty, food justice, stereotyping, systems that hinder the lower class, and issues that face a community are extremely important. I personally felt very inspired by the things that everyone had to say and I hope to have more of these talks with other friends, community members, and college faculty.
I think that especially on a campus like Gettysburg’s, it is easy to overlook the poverty and social justice issues that exist within the community. The majority of the campus is white and upper middle class, so there is a good chance that they have never been exposed to multiple cultures and intense poverty. This is why I think it’s amazing that we have the Center for Public Service office and opportunities to volunteer and help people. I hope that more students take these opportunities.
I think that throughout the summer, we will continue to see links between many of these organizations, the people who us them, and our garden. I also look forward to volunteering and learning more about Gettysburg as a community.
In the meantime, the rain continues! This is a good thing in that we don’t have to water, but our weeds are getting crazy! Jasmine & I hope to plant in our straw bale rows tomorrow!
More info on the Heston Internship
A link to the Summer 2013 Heston Interns’ Blog