Reflections from Paris

It seems like it was not that long ago that I walked into ECDI for the first time, excited and nervous and not quiet comprehending the impact that this summer would have on me. Fast forward ten weeks and I’m writing this final blog post from the lobby of a hotel in Paris. It’s been a crazy, amazing and challenging ride, but I’m happy to say that it’s all been worth it. This past week has been such a blur of proposal drafts, powerpoints and packing that I don’t think it’s hit me that my time as a Columbus Fellow is over. Even though I’ll be continuing on at ECDI, I’ll miss the chance to catch up with people after learning sessions and the sense of community. Following our final presentations, I rushed back to my apartment to finish packing. I had been so focused on getting the Women’s Fund TA draft finished this week that I barely had time to polish up my presentation, let alone do all the planning and organizing needed to pack we’ll for a 10 day trip abroad.

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Even though I’ve spoken French for most of my life, I’ve never been to France. I knew that this trip, as ill-timed as it may have turn out, could probably be the only chance I get to finally see Paris. Throwing everything I could think of into my suitcase, I caught the 8 hour flight to the city of lights with my sister and grandpa. Things I forgot: power adapter, rain gear, hair ties and sunscreen. Of course, within hours of our arrival it started drizzling, making the cobblestones glisten and our hotel lobby seem all the more cozy. As I sit here sipping my coffee, I can’t believe how perfectly this summer has come to a close. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people who have made this all possible. Many thanks from Paris!

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Commencement – On to the Next Adventure

I’ve always wanted a chance to use the corny line “Commencement does not mean and ending, but rather it is a beginning.” that is used in every cliched graduation speech and now it seems is my chance! While I am not exactly graduating this summer, my time as a summer fellow with the Columbus Foundation is coming to an end. I am beginning, however, what will be a new adventure as part-time education coordinator, here at the Pizzuti Collection,  for the upcoming year. Yes, it is corny, but commencement feels like a very fitting term for what is occurring in my life right now.

This summer was one of many interesting experiences. It was my first summer not living at home, my first summer living by myself, my first summer being full-time employed, my first arts museum employment, my first summer in Columbus, and a myriad of other firsts. It has been quite the journey.

I learned so much this summer, working with 6 area teens and training them into Junior Docents for the Collection. They have all truly transformed this summer into much more confident, well spoken, and professional young adults over these last 8 weeks. We will be having a small graduation ceremony for them, signifying the end of their official training and the beginning of their time as our first class of Junior Docents. It has always been important to me to make a difference wherever I am. Working with my JDs this summer, I really feel like I have left them with at least a small sampling of “the real world”, what it is like to have a job, and some valuable skills that they will hopefully use for the rest of their lives. If I impacted just one person in a positive way, then I consider this summer a success.

When I first told my family and friends that I would be moving to Ohio for my graduate studies, the response was usually a quizzical look on their faces followed by “Why?” And at that time, the only answer I really had was the opportunity to continue my studies at a well known University. This summer, though, I learned that Columbus is so much more than just Ohio State. It is a vibrant and beautiful city with a rapidly expanding and amazing cultural landscape. Every city has its issues, but Columbus has truly started to feel like a home for me, which as a young 20-something trying to find my place in the world, is a very VERY welcome feeling.

Thank you for following along on my journey this summer. I will say that it is not ending, however, but rather I am commencing onto more opportunities, more expereinces and more time in this beautiful city of Columbus, Ohio. Thank you for coming along for the ride!

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Immersion

On my last official day as a Columbus Foundation Summer Fellow at Actors’ Theatre of Columbus, I’m thinking about immersion. I think about learning a language by spending time in another country among its people, planting roots in an unfamiliar city, walking into a party full of strangers, sinking underneath the surface during water baptism, hiking the Appalachian Trail. Immersion involves risk taking, motion, commitment and sometimes, holding your breath. You enter into something, and you come up or out of it different than how you went in.

My ten weeks at Actors’ Theatre of Columbus feel that way to me as I’m wrapping up my work here for the summer. I immersed myself in the culture of Actors’ Theatre and in the processes and in the people, learned the value of taking intentional steps to build strong relationships among the staff, actors, crew, and board members, like porch sit. Through my work on survey design and analysis, I gained evaluative tools to measure the impact of artistic programming. From our Columbus Fellows Learning Sessions, I gained leadership skills and strategic planning tools.

As I enter into my final year of the MFA program in Dance at The Ohio State University, I know that all of these new skills will help me approach my artistic practices, from making dances to performing to teaching to writing, from new angles. I really value the opportunity I had this summer to cultivate a practice of viewing challenges and goals from multiple perspectives in order to find the most appropriate solution or course of action, not just the ones that comes most naturally to me.

This morning at the closing luncheon for the Fellows program, each of the fellows gave a short presentation their experiences with their host organizations. It was remarkable to see the kind of work each Fellow accomplished in ten weeks, and I’m confident that this articulate, motivated group of young leaders will make an incredible impact in their chosen fields as they go forward in their careers.

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Managing Director Adam Simon and Office Manager/Volunteer Coordinator Melody Reed joined me at the closing luncheon this morning

 

 

 

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Fin.

I wanted to save blog number ten for tonight so I could have a full recap of the summer and process my thoughts after the reception this afternoon. First and foremost, thank you to everybody at the Columbus Foundation. This summer has been a tremendous experience and everybody associated with the Columbus Foundation and the Summer Fellowship Program have been fantastic. Having a front row seat to watch some of the best in the business work their magic has been an inspiring experience and I am truly thankful to have been given this opportunity.

Seeing the City of Columbus come together for common good is remarkable. I have seen the work from the outside during my time at Ohio State but now I know that was a limited lens. Being able to participate in tangible and substantial change has made this summer worth my while and then some. It was my first summer staying in Columbus and — other than the weather — it lived up to expectations. The city, the campus, the people, and the progress make Columbus a shining light in the Midwest and it’s no secret why people flock to this town by the thousands each year. It’s a beautiful place with many world-class educational opportunities and I firmly believe that anybody who ever has the opportunity to call Columbus “home” has it better than most.

To the people of Clean Fuels Ohio — you’re rockstars. The work this organization accomplishes may seem less tangible than other nonprofits but I promise the impact is real and massive. I have learned so much in ten weeks about nonprofit management and alternative energy and I feel so much more prepared to take on that intimidating “REAL WORLD”. There’s a simple motto I try to live by, that has meant more this summer than ever:

Make a difference.

Clean Fuels Ohio makes a difference. The Columbus Foundation makes a difference. The 2015 Summer Fellows make a difference. Look out, “REAL WORLD”, there are 13 talented and inspired youngsters on their way to make an impact.

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Not My Last Goodbye! Thank you to The Columbus Foundation and KidSMILES

Looking back week by week, I was so amazed and proud of the growth and learning I have had. I detailed below my experience at KidSMILES this summer with a few important milestones from each week, with links out to each weekly blog post.

Week 1: I got acquainted with the procedures and working environment at KidSMILES and started working on our outreach expansion by examining Ohio Department of Education schools data to prioritize schools we would like to visit.

Week 2: I led and coordinated my first outreach visits successfully. I survived and succeeded!

Week 3: I continued my outreach visits. I reached out to potential partners, including the Central Ohio Association of School Nurses. I attended the Franklin County Free Clinics Roundtable organized by the Ohio Association of Free Clinics.

Week 4: I visited a focus group meeting organized by the Bhutanese Nepali Community of Columbus with the Columbus Police Department. Our two new AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, Eric and Tionne, began at KidSMILES began.

Week 5: I shadowed one of our board members, Dr. Jeff Milton, a pediatric dentist practicing in Powell, Ohio. I continued our visits and had a fantastic visit with WARM.

Week 6: I called and emailed all the principals for the schools we would like to prioritize visiting for our outreach expansion. I finished a complete draft of the outreach brochure.

Week 7: I finished the research project examining staffing, organizational structure, and funding sources at other non-profit and free/reduced cost clinics in Ohio and across the US. I shadowed another one of our board members, Dr. Sakamoto, who is a periodontist, a dental specialist, in Blacklick, Ohio. We had a Summer Fellows Learning Session with Mr. Douglas F. Kridler, President and CEO of the Columbus Foundation.

Week 8: I completed a draft survey for assessing our outreach program effectiveness and piloted the survey successfully at our outreach visits. We hosted our Open House, with many current and interested outreach volunteers attending the event.

Week 9: We had our Goodie Bag stuffing event and stuffed about 1,000 goodie bags to use at our upcoming events. I completed a couple small projects around the clinic and organized our clinic and outreach materials to prepare for my transition out. I also led our largest outreach event of the summer where we visited about 135 children.

For my final week, I wrapped up a couple tasks for the week and completed my final visit. I spent a lot of time preparing for my final presentation. I gave my final presentation at our Columbus Foundation Summer Fellows Closing Luncheon earlier today. It was great to hear about the experiences of the other Fellows. I had a good idea of what everyone was doing at their Fellowship sites and their future plans after the Fellowship, but it was really interesting to hear about their complete experience in a comprehensive presentation format. Giving our presentations in the Pecha Kucha format, where we had 20 slides with 20 seconds for each slide, kept our presentations concise and to the point.

My presentation at the luncheon today focused on an introduction of who I am and why I pursued this fellowship, a history of KidSMILES and its co-founders, an overview of my goals, my main accomplishments and challenges, and a thank you to the Columbus Foundation, the KidSMILES staff, and for all of the guidance and mentorship of Laura Zuber. I was so happy that Julie, Norma, and Laura could attend the closing luncheon.

David with Laura, Julie, and Norma

I’m so happy Laura, Julie, and Norma attended the Final Luncheon!

Overall, I had such an amazing experience at KidSMILES that challenged me in a meaningful and purposeful way. However, this is not my last goodbye. After I return from vacation for the next two weeks, I will be volunteering as much as I can at KidSMILES to help with as many projects as I can!

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Final’s Week.

It is finally time for me to present my final video.

As I look back over all of my footage I realize how hard I worked this Summer.  I conducted tons of interviews, attended numerous events, and of course, documented several different build sites.  It was way more fun than I could have expected. Granted, this is my passion in life, but i does involve a lot of hard work.  I played the role of Producer by making the phone calls and setting up interviews as well as coming up with the ideas for the videos themselves.  I played the role of Director as I approached each set as the man in charge by selecting the shots and conducting interviews.  I played the role of Director of Photography as I framed each and every shot on a daily basis.  I played the role of Production Assistant as I dragged around all of the equipment from place to place by myself.  Then I played the role of Editor as I spent the last couple of weeks editing the videos I had shot.

This was a lot of work for any one person to do.  But I could not have enjoyed it more. I learned so much from doing all of this work alone.  They say in film that you learn way more on a film set than you ever do in the classroom, I must say that I agree with that.  I improved on every aspect of filmmaking which was certainly a big goal of mine heading into this project.  I feel prepared to take on the world as this one man crew I have developed.

Thank you to The Columbus Foundation for making all of this possible. The weekly learning sessions, the learning excursions, or even just the emails back and forth: I enjoyed them all.  This Summer has truly been a blessing.  I will continue to spread the message of the Foundation and encourage others to apply for this same role.  It feels great to be a Summer Fellow Graduate!!!

Here is my final presentation video, Enjoy!

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Volunteers!

The biggest part of my non-profit organization is the volunteers.  If it wasn’t for the volunteers then Habitat for Humanity Mid-Ohio would not be able to function.

My first event coverage was at the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.  Although I was a little nervous it was a fun first experience with a camera in my hands.  My boss stood close behind me as I interviewed multiple volunteers about what they do at Habitat.  I quickly realized that these volunteers were more like employees than anything.  The only reason they call them volunteers is  because they are unpaid, but they work just as hard as any employee I’ve ever seen.

I’ve been on location at multiple build sites and numerous events and no matter where I go, there is a large group of volunteers waiting to help in any way they can.  In this video below, you will meet a few of the volunteers who make Habitat run so smoothly.

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