Hello MPF Community!
It’s been quite a whirlwind at the MPF offices and with Class 18!
During our November monthly meeting, we discussed many issues that are very prominent in our society today: Serving Immigrant and Refugee students and Race and Racism. On Thursday after a lovely potluck style breakfast, we met with the MIRA Coalition, and was graced with the presence of an alum from class 17, Suzanne Metro. We talked about issues youth refugees face while trying to escape their countries. Many of them are running from gang/home violence, fleeing to reunite with family, and much more. Of the many that are picked up, justice AmeriCorps comes in and provides them with a public defender to represent them. With all that they go through to receive a chance at a better life and better education, the MIRA Coalition with their New American Integration Program (NAIP) helps these people/students receive their permanent residency or green card, free assistance to apply for citizenship, and many more services. Our Fellows, in different capacities, support students who fit this criteria. This training was able to inform many of them on how they can handle case-by-case situations.
After allowing that information to sink in, we received a mini presentation from Carl Barrows with the Youth Development Initiative Project (YDIP) at Northeastern. This program was designed to support students and families in the surrounding housing complexes with afterschool help, starting from middle school and setting the platform for college.
Friday we spent most of our day with MPF alum Carro Hứa. She walked us through various workshops on racism in our society, and tapped into history on various movements, issues and bills passed in America along the lines of the Civil Rights movement, Settler Colonialism, and the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. We worked together in teams to see how these different movements interconnected.
We also split into self-identified caucus groups to answer various questions about ourselves. The White identifying group had questions such as what does it mean to be White, what do they know about the history of whiteness, and some challenges in understanding their white identity and whiteness. Those in the people of color identifying groups (which broke up into Hispanic/Latinx, Asian/Asian America, and Black/African American) were asked questions which included what do you love about your racial/ethnic identity, what are some challenges, and how does institutional racism affect their lives.
After the groups met together we were all given a chance to share what we had discussed. Everyone remained attentive on what was being delivered. Although a touchy topic, and not always one opened up in a very diverse group, we were receptive to the information received and look forward to having more dialogues to break down the silence wall.
Last Friday, we invited trainers from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center to lead a trauma informed workshop as well as how to use self-care when experiencing vicarious trauma. In the morning, Fellows learned how to identify signs of trauma as well as resources and strategies they could take back with them at their sites. In the afternoon, Lois Glass led the group in an opening compassion meditation and led a discussion around vicarious trauma and its impact. Next, Fellows created their own self-care plan and participated in a closing craft activity.
After the BARCC trainings, Fellows engaged in the annual MPF Yankee Swap, which was eventful as ever! Then, we closed with Pass the Wagon and wished everyone a restful holiday and a happy new year!