Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

The Convening Month – Olivia Ding

The primary goal of this month was to continue OPEN’s tradition of hosting our Annual Convening. This September 20, 2014,  parents, educators, and engaged citizens were brought together in an inclusive discussion about the education issues of 2014. The topics addressed were: school to prison pipeline, common core, early childhood, and the one-app experience.

An intense workshop on Juvenile Justice: the school-to-prison-pipeline

An intense discussion on Juvenile Justice: the school-to-prison-pipeline

Inspiring thoughts

Morning plenary


From 7 to 8 am, Mahalia Jackson Elementary school was bustling as tables and chairs were set up and decorated. With the help of volunteers, breakfast and registration was set. Community members began arriving at  8:30 am, which was to me, a refreshing example of commitment on the part of our city. African American drum band Baba Lutha brought life to the occasion and then a solid lunch was provided by Sicily. The children looked happy in the playground under the supervision of the childcare workers we hired. There was great energy and networking throughout the day. I would say that the event turned out successfully.


Community members establishing connections: visiting exhibitors and other organizations

Behind the scenes, the month leading up to the Convening was hectic. Budget limits truly narrowed our creative options. I was initially frustrated when the band I contacted (and the moon bounce and popcorn machine I arranged, became unaffordable) However, the valuable lesson I’ve accepted is that sometimes, not everything I do at work can be incorporated in the finished product. I think that embracing this fact will do me well in the future, and will culture a more relaxed attitude towards the turn-out of events. As far as personal growth goes, the planning of this event has forced me to better exercise patience.

I have been collecting feedback this week, and responses are vastly positive. One thing that truly stuck with me was a comment thanking us deeply for “doing this important work.”  We have gained 10 more followers and 9 new action group sign-ups who we plan to engage in the near future. At the end of the day, I am happy that the people we serve truly care for the issues we work for and that I am part of this movement.



This entry was posted on September 29, 2014 by in VISTA Field Reports.


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