We had a slower day at couple of weeks ago, as it had snowed heavily so school had been cancelled. This actually meant that we were able to focus a lot more on the kids individually. I went over to Zaniyah, who was working alone but quietly. I asked her what she was making, and she showed me her drawing of her family which, if you know Zaniyah, she did in the most unbelievably cute way! We talked about her family members in detail for the rest of the day, which was actually really fun. She was initially really nervous and shy, but by the end had opened up a lot and she insisted I walk her home at the end of the day!
Abhinav Chhabra, Day Leader
Abraham and I really took full advantage of our Saturday together this past week. I picked up ABB (the nickname he gave himself) at 11:00 from Clinton-Peabody and we walked over to City Museum. I had never been City Museum before and neither had ABB, so we were both very excited. We ran, crouched, crawled, jumped, and slid through the extensive playgrounds and exhibits inside. ABB and our surroundings at City Museum really brought out my inner child. I had a blast and I know Abraham did as well because all he kept saying was, “this is super duper fun!” At 2:30 I decided it was time to go. We walked over to a side street close to the museum that was packed with eateries and boutiques. We were both starving so I picked us up some turkey and avocado sandwiches. Abraham had never eaten avocado before and he was skeptical. When he mustered up the strength to give it a try, he was instantly hooked. Also, the coffee shop we ate at had tables that doubled as chess boards, and Abraham didn’t know the game, so upon finishing our lunch I taught him the rules and quick strategies of the game. Once he felt ready, we played a full match. I initially had the intention of going easy on him but he adapted so quickly that he was actually threatening my high pieces. I came back and ended up winning, but nonetheless I was impressed by his potential. I want to play chess with him more in the future. We got back to Clinton-Peabody around 3:45 and all-in-all it was a sensational day. It truly was a day of firsts, not just for Abraham but for me as well. Watching Abraham open up and grow so much in such a short time has been a really enjoyable experience. I wouldn’t trade our time together for anything.
Rob Curran, Mentor
On Saturday, a large group of mentors brought our mentees back to Wash U so they could see Diwali. For many of the mentees, Diwali was their first exposure to South-Asian culture and it was definitely a big hit! My mentee, Edna, especially seemed to enjoy the show. In addition to being impressed by the beautiful colors and skillful dancing, she was intrigued by the culture and traditions that Diwali showed the audience. I was glad that the kids had fun at the show, and thrilled that they seemed genuinely interested in the cultural aspect as well. When looking at the posters in Edison after the show ended, Edna asked me if we could come back for the Lunar New Year Festival as well. Diwali was a huge hit for both the mentees and mentors, and I can't wait to take advantage of similar opportunities at Wash U and around St. Louis!
Maya Coyle, Mentor
This past week, Spectra, a student imaging society, came in and did different demonstrations for the kids. As the kids walked to the three stations, they learned about how prisms, light and our eyes worked. The smallest things fascinated them and it was great to see them get so excited about learning about scientific imaging techniques. I met a boy named Amon this week, and we spent all of the two hours playing and watching the Spectra demonstrations together. He came to Safe Trick or Treat this weekend, and when he saw me on campus, he jumped off the ledge right into my arms. I was so happy that those two hours we spent together had been so memorable and enjoyable for him that he remembered me and was comfortable enough to come to me just a few days later. I can’t wait to see him and the rest of the kids again!
Elana Ross, Tutor
We added some new kids at City Faces today and got to sign up some more kids to participate! Christian, Janiya, Hassan, Jared, Jerry, Madison, and Joshua are now a part of our City Faces family. Christian, Jared, and Jerry came this week and they were really fantastic. Christian sat and did homework the whole time and when I asked if he needed help he would say he got it. I felt bad that he didn’t get to run around like the other kids and do the activity, but he seemed to be happy to be there. Jared and Jerry were fun and really good kids. Another kid provoked Jerry and he started chasing him, but as soon as I caught him and talked to him for a little he understood and calmed down. He seemed to listen to me and begin to grasp that fighting isn’t the answer. Even though Hassan didn’t come on Thursday, I’ve met him before as he is always with Armon and Daryl. He is a really calm and adorable kid who likes being around his older cousin. Overall, it was great meeting these new kids and I can’t wait to have more to join us!
Eva Nip, Day Leader
This week at the Community Garden, we made bird feeders to encourage birds to visit our garden and help them find food for the upcoming colder months. The kids enjoyed rolling pinecones in Sun Butter (a new food for many of us!) and then in birdseed. They were so enthusiastic that we quickly ran out of pinecones, but they got creative and made even more feeders using twine. We hung the feeders in a tree in the garden, and we can’t wait for this tree to become a gathering place for many types of birds! We also watered our veggies in the garden, which are just starting to sprout, and we made an awesome watercolor mural that we hung up in the City Faces Studio. I am always impressed by the kids’ high energy and willingness to try out new foods and activities. They’re just as excited as we are to see this garden come to life!
Abby Rubin, Community Garden Volunteer
Over the past few weeks, we’ve found that the best way to draw the kids of Clinton Peabody to the community garden is to start off with a fun activity that they can see us doing from outside of the garden, so they venture into the garden to check out what we’re doing. Our simple pine cone bird feeder craft certainly did the trick last week. Kids came running into the garden, eager to get messy with the sun butter and birdseed. The older kids were brave enough to climb on the benches and reach into the trees to hang their creations, while the younger children directed the volunteers to the perfect branches. When we ran out of pinecones, most of the kids stayed in the garden and painted a beautiful watercolor mural. We had a great time just being outdoors in the beautiful weather, and the kids even learned a little bit about bird habitats!
Ashley Holder, Community Garden Volunteer
This last week the First Year Center donated two boxes of school supplies to City Faces! For a while now we were running low on markers and papers since the children absolutely love drawing and art so we had to resort to notebook paper and other random things to draw on. Thankfully, we were finally able to replenish our school supplies that had been leftover from last year. City Faces is extremely thankful for the generous donation and we look forward to working with the First Year Center in the future! You can check out the FYC website here.
Alfred Guo, Webmaster
I participated in the City Faces Meet St. Louis program because I am very interested in learning about urban studies and I wanted to explore outside of the Wash U bubble. I couldn’t imagine how impactful it was to spend just a few hours in Clinton Peabody. It was extremely eye opening to see how we could go to a university just a few miles from a community dealing with a complete lack of nutritious food. Their only source of food within a mile is a gas station convenience store no larger than an average Wash U dorm room. During the program, we painted a mural for the community garden with many of the kids. While we painted the mural, we talked about our favorite classes, sports, and music. It was a great way to connect with the kids and really learn about their lives. These kids are unbelievably intelligent and extremely caring towards each other and us. The mural was beautifully composed and served as both an excellent canvas for art and conversation. After participating in the program, I joined City Faces as a mentor and just picked my mentee, Taveon! I can’t wait to see where this relationship goes!
Special shoutout to the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement for giving us the opportunity to participate in Meet St. Louis! You can find out more about service opportunities in St. Louis at their website.
Noah Truwit, Mentor