This will be my last blog, for the summer internship at least. This summer has been busy and fun in many ways, and it is good that I have some time to talk about it altogether.
The summer has been challenging in many ways. One is on the content of the work that I am preparing, going from professionalism to challenging the status quo. The summer program that I am in charge with is an internship program that places high school students in different community organizations, nonprofits and government institutions. Year by year we, the organizers, move the theme more and more toward the line of social justice, instead of just focusing on the work itself. The shift increases the workload drastically, as we often need to create new curriculum out of scratches. For example, two weeks ago we were co-facilitating a workshop focusing on masculinity, and literally all of us spent a good day researching on topics, such as the differences between gender and sex, what is patriarchy and how is Asian American community perpetuating such, and so on.
In addition, the changes also demand us to be more flexible and more engaging with our facilitation. For the previous years, lecturing has been the norm of our workshop per say. It is mostly the same routine each year: meeting for like a couple of hours a week, and then work on different PowerPoints, put a lot of words on the slides, and try to pray for 3 hours of attention throughout. Apparently, it was not something that we would like as facilitators, because we really aren’t doing the work of facilitation either. Since this year we want to include discussions on meaningful social justice issues, from the get-go, we don’t want to reinforce the traditional teaching paradigm, in which knowledge only comes from one person.
So we move on, and build workshop. The focus of workshop is no longer on how do we think we will want things to be like, but rather, how will the students like. We include small group discussions and activities to encourage people’s participation, and turns out, as people move around and sweat a little, they actually learn more and remain more engaged. The usual pattern of the day was that we lectured for three hours with several breaks in between, and in the end the lecturers were worn out, and the students were the same pretty much. But now, although the work load was still stressful in different ways, as we juggle with uncertainty and spatial limitation, the students nonetheless felt much more liberated and empowered. They can now share their thoughts in smaller groups with their peers, instead of conquering through awkwardness to speak among a group of 30 interns. Learning becomes more and more visceral, as many of activities derive from day to day life experience that they can relate.
Overall it has been a very interesting summer, in term of work. People say that all the time that learning does not stop at certain, which I believe is certainly true at this point.