Friday, May 6, 2011

Udodi's Last Post

My last sessions at the schools were bittersweet. I will miss the good times each site provided. Every child, head coach, and games played showed taught me something new (my personal favorite: Jefferson!). If I could have gone back and changed anything I think I would have preferred to do two sites but on different days, one on Tuesday and Friday. That would have probably allowed me to work with athletes from one of the other partner schools. Despite the things I would have liked to change, in reality everything worked out fine for the most part. The graduation ceremony last week rounded up my semester long internship.
Graduation this year was held at Howard University. There was a buzz about this being something new, and the first time it was held outside of Georgetown. When I arrived to the facilities I was surprised to find everyone in a large gym with blow up games. I thought it was going to be more of an assembly. It was really fun though, and I would have taken that over an assembly any day. The coaches were still able to assemble a time where all the different schools came together and the students shared what they enjoyed and had learned from the program. Head coaches from each site were able to “shout out” their favorite student from their site. As each school arrived they were directed to sign a giant piece of paper saying what they had learned as well, so everyone had a voice.
There were so many kids that I won’t lie, even though I’m a good four years or more older than them they were still intimidating. However, I put my poker face on and helped out wherever I was asked. As a graduation gift the kids received their certificates and goody bags with Grassroot’s t-shirts, some other swag, and encouraging words for the kids . I received my first Grassroot tshirt as well. Tyler was present at this event with a new look and I didn’t reconginize him at first! (He had just returned from Africa looking very tan.) He talked to the kids and thanked them for being a part of Grassroot’s spring semester.
I definitely enjoyed my time with GRP and it has taught me a lot of things. My favorite part of the whole program is its mission. HIV/AIDS is a very important topic that seems to go under the radar, teaching kids about how to protect themselves and all of the stigmas around HIV/AIDS will hopefully reverse the rising rates of infection in the city. It was a great opportunity and I am glad that I got the chance to be this semester’s high school intern for the GRP. Diva had said that the most important part of this program was for the kids to go out and share everything they learned in GRP and I’ll continue to go out and share in my communities what I’ve learned from this program.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Udodi's Update:

The past few weeks since my last blog post have been long but full of exciting times. I started at my Francis- Stevens site and continued at Jefferson Middle. The first day at Francis I got to meet my site leader, Jackie, she was nice and later gave me my ‘Grassroots Coach’ sweatshirt. I was so siked when I got it; it made me feel like an official member of the team.

I really like how my schedule worked out. I run to Francis- Stevens from my school right after my third period. Francis is five or six blocks away, almost a mile or so. The first few times that I was there we were with a different group of students every time. We always had fun but it was kind of frustrating that the kids were not consistent. I have been learning how to better interact with them as a GRP coach. I was in the group that Jackie was leading and she or one of the other GRP members would lead the discussion. We played ‘Fact or Nonsense’ and I got to work with the kids. They were funny but I’m glad that they took the lesson seriously and that they would talk and say what they believed the answer was without me always having to prompt them. The kids get really into it when they answer correctly and get a shout out.

After getting out of Francis-Steven I head back to school, change out of my running clothes and sit down to do a little school work and eat lunch before it is time to go to Jefferson. I also do this site with people from Georgetown. Out of both of my sites, I would have to say that Jefferson is the one I like best. The kids are really funny and get a good laugh out of us. The kids at Jefferson are pretty consistent. Our group has actually grown since my first day. I have also been able to get to know them better. The kids are really into it and that encourages me. Another thing that really makes my time at Jefferson enjoyable is that we pretty much go over the same lesson I did at Francis so I get a second try at doing the lesson and I feel that I do it better. I have not yet been assigned to lead a game, but was assigned to lead the praise circle. I have not yet done it but I’m really excited to! I mostly assist with games as an extra eye, like when we play ‘Find the Ball’ I check behind the kids to make sure that they are not cheating. Additionally, I get to take score when we play games. These are just small things but they help me feel like I’m a part of the group and I’m getting involved.

I’m excited for the future because I will have more experience at being a Grassroots coach. I’m also excited to get involved with other aspects of GRP. So far so good!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shout out from our newest high school athlete Coach, Udodi

Coming into the Grassroots program I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess I was really excited to meet the college athletes and get the program started. I found training to be rather intimidating. I was expecting there to be more high school interns, but it turned out I wasthe only one! It was intimidating because all of these people were college athletes and I feltrather mediocre compared to them. Most of the athletes had gone to a training session already and knew what to expect. I also felt over dressed in a room full of people in sweats whileI was wearing a skirt, but that’s how I normally dress! They did turn out to be nice people andtraining was fun. We did debriefs of the activities that we would be working on with the kids. We played Choices, Where’s the Ball, Fact/ Nonsense, My Supporters, and a game where people reenacted how your immune system works to protect you and what HIV does to it. They were all fun! Going over those games before actually going into the classrooms really came in handy when I was at my schools and we played them. One of my favorite things about Grassroots is the ‘shout out’ and everyone’s funny nicknames.

Week 1/ Week 2 – Francis and Jefferson

I was excited to start the program, but I was also a little scared about working with middle school, DC public school students! I didn’t grow up in DC but I knew that they could berowdy. Surprisingly, my first session at Jefferson was actually pretty fun, but there were not that many students because of the snow. They were not as badly behaved as I thought. I got to meet my team and I didn’t really feel out of place. I did feel a little awkward at first because I didn’t really know what to do with myself, but my head coach promised to get me more involved the following session. The next week I got to go to my other location, Francis, for the first time; it was also fun. The kids get really into it and it’s nice to see the students who already knew a lot about Grassroots because this was their second time in the program. I’m glad they had a good time while learning. I’m excited for the weeks up ahead.

- Udodi Mary

Lauren Thomas- Grassroot Project Reflection

My name is Lauren Thomas and I am a senior at Georgetown University. I am from Alexandria, Virginia but lived most of my childhood abroad in Singapore and Belgium. I am a student athlete at Georgetown University, as I have been a member of the Women’s Lacrosse Team for the past four years. I heard of Grassroots from one of my teammates earlier on in the beginning of the semester and I was really interested in becoming a part of the program. I met with Deidra Sanders and she told me a bit more about what the program was all about and how I could become a volunteer. I am also enrolled in a Community Based Learning Social Justice class this semester and one of the requirements of the course is to work with an agency in the D.C community. Part of the course work involves completing four hours of community work each week for ten weeks and after hearing about Grassroots, I thought this would be a perfect fit for me.

After I decided to become a volunteer I attended two training sessions before our first week of going out to the schools. These training sessions not only taught me a lot about HIV/AIDS facts I never knew before, but it was also really eye opening to see the many student athletes involved in the program and the passion they all had for making a difference in the community. This passion for the program really fueled me even more to want to be a part of the program and involve myself, offer my time and explore an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young teens. After the two training sessions, I was not exactly sure what to expect to provide for the kids but since the program has started, I immediately realized the ways in which I was going to be able to make an impact and provide for the kids I was going to begin working with. I want to be a role models for the kids. I not only foresee myself opening up discussion about serious issues, but I also see myself getting much exposure to issues of social inequalities in education and health and see that I can make a difference in the lives of these young kids.

I think this program offers a unique and special opportunity for Division I college athletes to become engaged in their local community. I want to show how I have become a successful college athlete that has been able to manage my time in balancing school and sports. I want to show how I have set and achieved goals and ultimately learned how to work in a team environment, and overcome hardship. My goal throughout this whole process is to serve as a positive role model for others. I hope to form relationships with these kids at the same time as teaching them knowledge about HIV/AIDS. I want the kids to interact and have fun while learning and interacting with the Grassroots volunteers who can help them develop a love of learning and playing, as well as attitudes and skills to live healthy and HIV-free lives. Not only do I take on a leadership role and become knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS in general and, specifically, in Washington D.C, I hope as a result of this experience, the kids I work with will be able to continue to develop as socially mindful people and future leaders.