The first day I entered the facility, I was absolutely entranced by the amount of energy, art, and passion exuding from this one building. I read about the BLCI online and listened to the presentation in class, but they did not do justice to the actual work the folks put in. My first day was unorthodox due to the fact that I did not engage with the students as much. Instead, I reviewed and graded scholarship papers for the graduating seniors. What I did not expect was the gravity of the student’s stories. Their stories were incredibly inspiring as I sifted through each paper I understood a sliver of the struggles these students face daily. One student in particular, Salma, who I am also interviewing really struck me. Her story (which I will not share yet) as a young woman of color striving to be a Public Health major in UCSD (yes! she got in! with a full ride!!) brought me back to my own childhood in intending to change the world. Of course, this was before the University tainted my perception of the world. Besides the point, Salma’s story spoke to me because she has so much hope for the world that has taken so much away from her. She is a working-class young adult and plans to take everything she learns from higher education and tangibly apply it back to her community. She isn’t just all talk, though. She is currently applying what she is learning in BLCI back to her community by running clubs on campus, volunteering her time, and being a major point in her family unit. Needless to say, she has reenergized my love for community and day-to-day activism.
The next two weeks went by really quickly again. We were able to engage with the students more intimately through two different types of workshops. One workshop we helped in was a time management one where we guided the students on their current to ideal schedule. This was a fun activity because I was able to see that their lives reflected very similarly to mine. These students are just teenagers, but are working jobs and being involved int their communities. This really took me back to high school, which was a rough time, but saliently a time of growth. The next week we played as team captains for A-G requirement review. This was also a really fun activity as the students were very engaged and had so much energy to offer on a topic that is bleak. I realize that BLCI has begun to serve as a space of healing for me due to how much it reflects my circumstances and community back at home. The students have taught me a lot and I am sure that I will be learning so much from them.