Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Joe and Harvard

We work with so many wonderful and amazing young people who come to us as interns or through our robust AmeriCorps program.  Recently, Dr. Keven Vicknair, the director of CitySquare's AmeriCorps initiative sent me the following message.  I thought it would be encouraging while providing an insight into the powerful effect our program has on young leaders.  I'll let you judge for yourself.


Below is an email from one of our Food on the Move leaders this past summer. A young man, first generation US citizen, who grew up in a Dallas barrio and is now pursuing a Masters degree at Harvard.

His email gave me hope for the next generation set to lead our country so I thought to pass it along.


Teisha and Keven, (Teisha please forward to Dr.Vicknair,I don’t know her email.)

First and foremost I hope this email finds yall well.

As I promised Teisha a couple weeks ago, I’m writing this email to update you on my New England experience. Cambridge, as you know, is not Dallas. There are no tacos stands, no drive-thru beer stores, and no legitimate barber shops. I can do without the drive-thru beer girls, but I can’t do without the barbershops! I have to travel pretty far to get a good fade. I need the T (subway), a bus, and a donkey to get to and from the barbershop. Regardless of the distance, the trips are always worth it!

On my search for my fade I found Jamaica Plains, Boston. This predominantly Latino neighborhood might be old news to you but it was completely new to me. During my first visit not only did I find a barber second to only my Northwest Dallas barber but I also found the JP community center. I have returned to this community center to volunteer on multiple occasions. There is something special about this place (other than the Dominican Women). In case you don’t know, Jamaica Plains is known for its successful community development corporation and the community’s ability to ward off mass gentrification.

I mention JP because in truth it really helps me get to the point of why I am here. It helps me remember what the hallowed yards of Harvard can sometimes make one forget. I am here at the end of the day for the hardworking family that works day in and day out yet still cant get ahead. I am here for that family and those people who despite their own effort can’t seem to get a fair shake. Jamaica Plains reminds me of these people the same way my Bachman Lake does.

I think I can bring some of the ideas I’ve seen in JP home. For that reason alone, the last two months have been worth every minute I’ve been away.

Aside from my long trips to find a legit fade, things are well. Classes are challenging but not impossible. The people make this place what it is. Everyone has a story that is better than the last. My classmates are people who once started orphanages by providing women in West Africa micro-loans! That’s crazy! These are the type of people I get to speak with on a daily basis. It is humbling to say the least.

I cannot thank yall enough for the Food on the Move experience. I am a baby here. Harvard makes all 1st year MPPs take a “Management Course” . In this class, EVERYONE has something to say about the projects they’ve managed. If not for Food on the Move, I don’t know what I would say. My classmates might have managed an aids relief program in the Amazon but they’ve NEVER tried to manage a sweaty LaToya on a hot Texas summer day while 85 kids are waiting on their only meal of the day WHILE wearing a polyester Spiderman costume and trying to look good for the CBS 11 cameras. ..nope. …they’ve never done that.

Aside from class, I sit on the board for the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, I am involved with the community service organization @ the school, and I play flag football for the Graduate School House. The undergrads always beat us. They are just too fast!

What are yall up to now!?

Once again, I hope this email finds yall well. I see the name change, and I like it!! A CitySquare long sleeve t-shirt, (size medium) would sure look nice up here…just sayin. I’ll be home late December through mid January. For as great of a time I am having, I greatly look forward to some home cooking!


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