Friday, January 8, 2010

The Real Real World

Due to the game last night, our Bama fan base here at camp Pilgrimage did not make it back until past their bedtime, therefore blogging did not ensue (Can we get a ROLLLLL TIIIIDEEE?!?!??!). No worries, we will make up for it.

Day 2.
We started the morning off easy, sleeping in (Katelyn H. made a record, snoozing til noon. She's even sleeping now) while our early birds took a walk. Sarah P. joyously located the D.C. (actual) "Real World" house along with her ideal future employment at P Street Preschool. Also on the walk, the team members spotted various embassies, and Kait found Gandhi at the Indian Embassy.

Our first official event for the day was lunch and we enjoyed a delicious Eggplant Pasta, thanks to Sara D and her team. After lunch, we gathered for a discussion about our Enneagram results, a personality test of sorts. (if you're interested, the sample test can be found at Very insightful. It was interesting to see whether people agreed or disagreed with the type that the test identified them as, and we learned a lot about our own group dynamic as well.

After we used an internet test to find ourselves, we ventured off to our first service experience at D.C. Central Kitchens. We had a great orientation where we learned about the organization's mission. DCCK provides meals to several agencies dealing with the homeless in the D.C. area. They also have a catering business. Along with their efforts to provide food, they also provide "empowerment" programs; one being the Culinary Job Training where people learn skills that will enable them to enter the food industry. We spent our time preparing food, cooking black eyed peas, peeling and slicing potatoes, dicing peppers and coring apples, among other tasks. All in all, very glamorous. Especially the hairnets. We worked to a Michael Jackson marathon playing overhead, so everyone was happy. Wrapping up the evening shift around 8pm, the Bama fans in the group instantly began a frantic search for a place to watch the Championship (sadly, our rabbit-earred TV at the Pilgrimage couldn't quite cut it). We actually ran up the second longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere located at the Dupont Circle station, and it was obviously completely worth it.
In short: long escalator (5 minutes), three restaurants (15 minutes), requesting managers of said restaurants to please change their stations to the National Championship on ABC (35 seconds)...watching the Alabama Crimson Tide win the National Championship for the first time in about twenty years....PRICELESS.
It took three restaurants to find enough seating for eight (five for Bama, one for Texas and two along for the ride) and a TV that was playing the game. Again...totally worth it.

Day 3: Back to Service
Today started bright and early. We split up into two groups, one heading to D.C. Thrive and the other to Martha's Table. D.C. Thrive is an organization that makes and serves meals for the homeless and needy of the area. The group there helped prepare and serve breakfast for the day and prepared for other meals as well. Martha's Table provides food for several agencies, like DCCK, as well as furnishing a certified private Daycare that services everyone from infants to teenagers; educating them in nutrition, arts and crafts, academics, fitness, among other things. The group there helped with food preparation for McKenna's Wagon, a program that takes meals to the streets by van-- most likely one of the more well-known programs which Martha's Table performs.

After the groups finished up, we alternately ate quick sack lunches (some of which ended up living in the freezer for awhile...let's just say that Mike had a delicious Hamsicle for luncheon. He doesn't want to talk about it.) Lunch led to more service at Christian Community Group Homes. This organization deals more with housing than the other organizations mentioned and offers care and attention to the needs of the local elderly. The employees do everything from picking up prescriptions to cleaning drapes; no task left undone. The first group focused on one house, while the second stayed at the headquarters that houses eight elderly people and serves as the administrative center. Both groups enjoyed the direct interaction while also being put to good use as house cleaners.
Exhausted and reflective from the day's experiences, our team met back up at the Pilgrimage and fixed supper. After a quick and yummy meal of tacos, we heard from a speaker panel representing the National Coalition for the Homeless. Two of the speakers had experienced homelessness and offered very personal and moving thoughts on this subject which they felt obviously passionate about. This discussion was very stimulating for our team reflection which occured later.
The reflection consisted of each team member voicing their initial observations of D.C. and our service-learning experiences. These observations ranged from the stereotypes we previously held of homelessness, followed by a discussion of the noteworthy communal atmosphere of the various organizations we worked with.
After our first full day of service in D.C., we are looking forward to the rest of our time here. For now, however, rest is essential to our journey.
Thank you to all of our followers! Until next time...
K and H