Before sitting down to write this blog post, one of my housemates pointed out that we were approaching our third month of being in LVC. I feel like while adjusting to the many transitions within the program, the days can feel long but the weeks blow by. To offer a glimpse at what Casa Romero in Chicago has been up to lately, I figured I’d follow Bex Klafter’s (Redeemer House) lead and provide a day in the life at my placement.
My name is Levi Todd (photo above, 3rd from left) and I’m placed with Namarig Kram (photo above, right, front), another LVC volunteer, at Between Friends (BF). BF is a domestic violence agency, and we work on their prevention team visiting middle and high school classrooms across Chicago to talk about relationships, dating, and violence. On paper I feel settled into the role, but I still feel like I’m always learning about our curriculum and how best to engage with young people. Each day looks a little different for us, as we visit four different Chicago Public Schools. Here’s what our Monday was like.
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8:30am: I feel spoiled today–while three of our schools are located 1-1.5 hours away from our house, Waters Elementary school is closer and starts at 9:30 instead of 8. I sleep in a bit longer than I normally do, pack my lunch, and hop on my bike towards the school.
9:00am: While we’ve been in programming at other schools for four weeks, we’ve started programming at Waters later, so today is our first day. I check in at the main office, make copies of handouts, and touch base with Namarig to talk about our game plan for facilitating classes today.
9:30am: We have two 6th grade classes back-to-back today, and they have a lot of energy. Namarig and I introduce ourselves with some activities, and we talk about the work that Between Friends does. We play some games to get to know the 6th graders, and we ask them questions about their school–do people their age date? (Ew, gross, not yet.) Is bullying prevalent? Do they feel like they would trust the police in an emergency? We end the day away from some of these more serious questions, and we learn all about Fortnite, their favorite superheroes, and what they’re learning in school.
11:30: Namarig and I have a break, so we shadow two of our coworkers teaching the 7th graders. We mentally take notes and talk about what we might be able to borrow from Elle and Matt’s teaching style.
12:30: Lunch! The four of us break in the teacher’s lounge and debrief about how our classes went. We look at the school projects around the room and reflect on what we learned in elementary school and what we wish we would have learned.
1:30: Namarig and I prep for the other three schools we’ll be working at this week, who are farther into the curriculum. The 7th and 8th graders will be learning about warning signs of abusive relationships, and we’re trying to figure out how to balance teaching them new information and letting them explore the topic themselves through conversation. The 6th graders will be learning about personal boundaries with friends, and how to ask for permission or consent. We don’t have much time, so we plan what we can and head to teach our next class.
2:30: We teach our last class of the day (we’re lucky today, we just have three when we normally have up to six). Things go well, and some students stick around to talk to Namarig about how DC Comics are obviously better than Marvel.
3:30: We’re done teaching for the day but we need some handouts for our other classes, so I head to the Between Friends office and make copies. We’re not at the office often, but I enjoy swinging by because there’s a great bike path on the way.
5:00: We’re done for the day! I head home, make dinner, and relax a bit before we have our house meeting.
7:30: Casa Romero gathers in the living room to talk about some logistics we need to take care of–how we’re going to pay rent, how we’re splitting groceries, how we’re going to draft our house covenant, and some other housekeeping business. It’s a lot, but we get it done.
9:30: I’m wiped, so I head to bed and get ready to do it all again tomorrow!
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It’s difficult for me to neatly summarize my thoughts on the LVC year in a single blog post. I think the largest challenge for me so far has been figuring out how to balance many commitments–to work, to my housemates, and to the various causes we care about and want to take action on. It can be really overwhelming, but I’m slowly finding ways to strike a balance and make time to center myself. I remind myself that each day lends us more experience for us to draw on, and that edge spaces (though stressful at times) are a positive place to be. I’m noting that my next blog post will be in spring, and I’m very curious as to what insight future Levi will have then. Given the way time has been flying lately, that might be sooner than I expect!