From left to right: Jason, Naeisha, Alaysia, and Jo at Patterson Park for Sunday Sabbath
By Alaysia Corley
I am deeply excited to say that I felt I got to know the students at MCCS better. I had lost some hope, but having a few discussions led into some of the students opening up. What surprised me the most was myself. I ended up sharing some very personal situations about myself that I usually don’t share with strangers. I realized that if I really wanted to have connections with the students then I was going to have to let go of some of my personal codes. So far I have been to three narcotics anonymous meetings and I don’t regret it. The interns are given a choice whether to go to the narcotics meetings or to do something else and I always find myself going to the meetings. I know I’m supposed to try new experiences while I’m in Baltimore, but hearing testimonies of people who overcome addiction or still struggle with it is something I can’t pass up. Each story that I have heard teaches me that even when you overcome one obstacle there will always be many more after. After hearing three speakers so far, I appreciated the way each person has told their story. They didn’t sugar coat the problems that they endured, but explained the harsh reality behind life, while emphasizing that faith can only get us through.
In the first couple weeks of being here I noticed that some of the interns were talking to people around the neighborhood. They would start conversations with them on buses, on the street, etc. As I was noticing this I began to ask myself, “How come I haven’t engaged in these types of conversations?” I realized that back home (Brooklyn, NY) we don’t engage in conversations with strangers too often. The mindset is to get to your destination. I have also had my fair share of dealing with mentally ill people on public transportation, so I don’t engage in conversation because I’m not sure what the strangers I talk to are capable of. I began to doubt myself when I saw some of the interns having amazing conversations with strangers during their days. I thought maybe I was too head strong and debated on starting conversations with some people.
Recently, we had an incident where some of the interns ended up having a conversation with a drunken man and he was saying inappropriate things to them. He then took a plate and a cup after pouring alcohol into one of the interns cup. After hearing this news some of the interns were a bit fearful to continue talking to the neighbors. I explained to some of the interns that they aren’t obligated to talk to everyone in the neighborhood. It’s okay to walk away or ignore someone when they are saying inappropriate things. I think we get caught up in making sure we are making connections that we disregard safety. Although we should make connections we also need to be aware and cautious of who we talk to and use discernment when talking to neighbors.