Day 1: Sunday
Sorry this is getting off to a bit of a late start, but better late than never. On Sunday afternoon, we met 16 other ASB-ers (and our fearless leaders, Ian and Brittany) at 30th Street Station and headed to our lovely hostel, home for the rest of the week. After dinner, we played some ridiculous ice-breaker games and were the best of friends by bedtime. Bedtime, however, turned out to be after the rather early lights-out time of the hostel, so getting ready for bed in the dark was an adventure. We rested up in our bunks, readying ourselves for our first real day on Monday.
Day 2: Monday
Turns out the lights don’t come on until pretty late in the morning, either. Darn. Somehow we managed to dress ourselves despite this obstacle. After splitting into groups, we set off for our first destinations…half the group went to the Philadelphia Zoo first, and half went to MANNA first . At the zoo, we cleaned up lots and lots of trash (who really thinks it’s okay to leave dirty diapers on the ground?!) and were rewarded with a tour of the zoo. Personally, I liked the Giant Elephant Shrew the best. Others may disagree with me, I expect. Ingrid, for instance, liked the squawking otters. Around midday we switched locations. MANNA stands for the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance – if you’re a Haverford student, you may know them by the delicious pies they sold us in the fall. This nonprofit delivers 3 meals a day/7 days a week to those living with life-threatening illnesses at acute nutritional risk. They almost completely depend on daily volunteers to do the labour and we were happy to help. Some of us assembled and packaged meals in an assembly-line fashion while others de-stemmed and chopped bags and bags and bags of basil. This seemed like a great organization where it’s easy to get involved – I would urge anyone in the area to don a sexy hairnet and help them out. Our evening was spent eating delicious Indian food, catching a movie, and continuing to bond with the other ASB-ers. It’s a pretty fun group; and I’m enjoying getting to know some kids outside the Haverbubble and even the Bi-Co and Tri-Co bubbles, especially those with shared interests in nonprofit work. The week has definitely gotten off to a good start.
Day 3: Tuesday
Hopefully everyone has become accustomed to the blue lights in the dormitories that flick on in the bedroom for ten seconds after every slight movement, and also to the rocking club right next door (although it’s no longer an issue midweek –we’ve been warned to avail ourselves of free earplugs at the Hostel counter when Thursday’s sleeping time comes around.) This morning we visited the Italian Market in the morning and then headed quickly over to Germantown High School, where Jason Weems of EducationWorks awaited us with a crash-course in urban education. Today was eye-opening – an example of how some volunteer work, like working in the kitchen at MANNA, is relatively straightforward, while others, like working directly with children facing a wide variety of obstacles on their path to success, require a lot more background information and skill along with the motivation to help. The former is a great opportunity for casual volunteering with immediately tangible results, while the latter requires a long term commitment of the body, heart, and mind. Our brief foray with both genres was exhilarating, informative, and exhausting. After working with kids from ages 6-13 and promising to return again tomorrow, we trudged back to our Bank Street Hostel with just enough energy to stuff ourselves with delicious Chinese Food. Our fearless leaders are remaining calm under the stress of leading the whole group around and are impressively effective: nobody has been left on Septa …yet. More to come tomorrow, it sounds like it’ll be a full day.
Peace and love,
Ingrid and Katie