I arrived in San Francisco a little under a week ago and have just started my first week as an intern for the nonprofit 826 Valencia. We’ve spent the first couple of days learning about the organization and creating elevator pitches that we may want to use as we find ourselves needing to explain our summers and our work, so I’ll share mine here! 826 Valencia is an educational nonprofit out of the Mission and Tenderloin districts of San Francisco that serves students in the Bay Area with free programming focused primarily on personal/creative writing. 826, now a nationwide network, believes in good writing and confidence in the self as major tools for success in education and career, especially among students who attend under-resourced schools in SF. I was especially drawn to this internship because of the values held by this nonprofit and the ways in which 826 partners with existing schools and organizations as opposed to entering the communities without their input. 826 works hard to reflect the identities of the communities that it serves, so I’m really excited to be working with community volunteers and students alike.
For the next ~6 weeks, I will be working closely with rising 5th grade students, programming and planning their summer camp experience. The camp, called Exploring Words, is part of an 8 hours/day, 5 days/week camp for students, which was timed and designed (to combine creative writing and science) in response to the needs voiced by the communities 826 and partner organizations serve. I was initially drawn to 826 for its values like sustainable growth and community representation, but I am now seeing that I have more opportunities for growth in many of the day-to-day mechanics of the camp, like lesson-planning and interactions with students. Some of what I’m most excited for now is mastering the implementation of the lesson plans I create and connecting one-on-one with students of diverse backgrounds and varying levels of success in their usual academic spaces — particularly due to many of them being English Language Learners or going to under-resourced schools.
The biggest challenges that I anticipate are those that will take place on a day-to-day basis, when I’ll likely find myself needing to tailor lessons to students with varying abilities in the English language or varying affinities to writing of any kind. I also assume that there will be some behavioral challenges in my classroom. Because the programming is free to the community, some students are in attendance because of the needs of their parents, not their own interests. Engaging students and creating an environment that encourages them to be creative and be confident in their writing abilities will be challenging and super rewarding! My hope for the next week is to get to know some of the students in their first week of camp and get ahead in my lesson planning, as my own lessons will be implemented beginning June 12.
Attached to this blog is a photo of my co-intern, Ben! I don’t have any photos yet of the rest of the 826 staff or facilities (which are really lovely spaces), but Ben and I will be teaching and designing curriculum together for the summer.