For most of the fellowship, I questioned what my role was at The King Arts Complex. I knew the description that the Columbus Foundation gave us and the open-ended expectations that were bestowed upon us, but in practice, my role got lost in the commotion of day to day operations at the camp. It wasn’t until I returned after a few days away that I saw the true impact of my role when someone forgot to order the breakfasts for the kids on Monday.
If you want meals on Monday, you have to order them on Friday from Columbus Park and Recreation and no one did. Usually, my supervisor is around to make the decision to go pick up the meals, but she was out sick. I sprung into action scambling leftover snacks of pop tarts, go-gart tubes, and whatever else I could find. Discombobulated breakfast was created and served in less than 10 minutes. I realize how minor this may seem, but for me, it felt like the most important thing in the world. It showed that I had something to contribute to the flow of the day. I was not just taking up space. I would see just how much I contributed as the day went on and situation after situation occurred and I was asked to step in and help. I realized how much one person’s absence can really hinder a nonprofit that is understaffed and just how many hats one person can wear. Until that moment, I didn’t notice the weight my head had accumulated from my own mini-hats.
Another key part of this week was seeing how much the people around me trusted me as a leader and as an artist. As the weeks dwindle down in the Summer Arts Camp, the campers are preparing for their annual Final Production. This year was one of the most stressful to plan because of last-minute budget issues prior to the start of camp. A small group of us on the camp staff have been taking on script writing and songwriting as we struggled to throw together something beautiful yet feasible. With the script finished and the other elements in motion, the idea of having a rap cipher to start the production was brought to fruition and yours truly was placed at the forefront of making it happen. As a Creative Writing major and self-proclaimed rapper, I should have known this day would come, but I was shocked by the trust the staff had in me to work with their students on something as tedious as this. Assisting in the choosing of the beat and creation of the entire flow of the cipher, it was empowering to do what I love with the kids and see them get excited to participate. Rap often gets a bad name because of the new wave of artists who neglect the activist roots of the genre. Having the opportunity to challenge the negative notions about an art form that I believe to be one of the most empowering for marginalized people was truly the highlight of my week and taught me the power of my own voice in any space.
Here are some photos of the kids jotting down their raps and making art for the final production.