Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

May Updates: Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools

This is me!

This is me!

May has been bittersweet to me. It was my last month of complete and utter freedom and also my signal to start prepping for what’s to come for the next four years: medical school! The biochemistry summer course starts this week and I’m afraid to say that I’ll probably be reverting to my hermit ways of holing myself in my tiny shell of a room to frantically study and cram for the next few months. I’m not sure how well the other two TAPers will fare (Erin and Chao, I’m talking to you) but you are all welcome to join me. Study parties galore!

Okay, I’m actually just prematurely stressing but that’s just how I am.

In other news, May has been great and full of Rethink activity. I’ve attended multiple Rethink events which has shed some light onto what the Rethinkers have been up to all year in their individual clubs and committees. Since the start of the spring semester, the Architecture Committee has been working on Project Pipeline, a mentorship program where teams of students from various New Orleans schools redesign a local neighborhood of choice to reflect community issues. They are mentored throughout the process by a local architect and build 3D models of their vision, which are then presented to a panel of New Orleans architects. The Rethink team chose to focus on the presence of an education desert in the Hollygrove neighborhood. The Rethinkers nailed it during their final presentation at the Contemporary Arts Center, and in my opinion, had the best one 🙂 A Rethinker parent also wrote an article about their presentation; read it here.

Yeah, Architecture Committee!

Yeah, Architecture Committee!

Another extremely important event occurred this past Tuesday at the First Baptist Church of New Orleans: The Rethink 2014 Summit. Funny story–on my first try to reach the the church, my terrible inability to navigate led me into the middle of the nearby cemetery which was a confusing start to the day…but I digress. The summit was a day where all of Rethink’s after school clubs come together to present their year long projects which included poems, skits and videos, posters, and all sorts of creative projects. Among the many things I learned were the Rethinkers’ passion for restorative justice in schools, their wonderful singing and lyrical composition abilities*, and one young girl’s story about personally coping with intolerance and homophobia in the school environment.

*seriously, check out Langston Hughes Academy’s Rethink Club’s remix of Lorde’s Royals. (So many possessive apostrophes!)

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Witnessing these awe-inspiring opportunities and thoughts make me realize how much our youth are underestimated on a day to day basis. Underneath all of the common stereotypes, conceptions, and biases adults have against young people are individuals with unique experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Sometimes youth are more human and more understanding and mature than adults that I’ve met. You know, there’s always talk and movement among adults to build a better future for our children, but why is there rarely consultation in the youth themselves? After all, we aren’t going to be the ones who benefit the most from changes in the world, it’s the youth. We need to set aside our preconceived ideas that young people aren’t a valuable source of opinion and ideas. If you’re going to argue that most of them don’t have the experience and knowledge to handle policy making and have a solid say in change, then I’d advise you to speak to the Rethinkers. I guarantee that they’ll make you rethink your opinions.

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This entry was posted on May 28, 2014 by in Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, VISTA Field Reports and tagged , , .

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