After a week of introductions over multiple emails, we finally got to put faces to the names. Today was the first day of the Place Summer Program, and we already learned a lot. We are all from different perspectives, we all have different stories to share with the world, and this program is the perfect place to express and share our stories.
Arriving at the Center, you get a warm welcome from the people there. You are respected, appreciated, and valued. Then comes the icebreakers. we get split into pairs, and George asked us questions about ourselves that we would have to answer with our partner. Then, the pairs will introduce each other to the group. We then went on a walk with another partner in a direction that was given to that pair: North, East, South, and West. And during that walk, the pair would have to find all of five things in the area: path, district, node, landmark, and edge. Then we got to eat lunch with our partner. When we got back, we watched a video of cities around the world and how they created or improved the cities in such a short amount of time. We then, got to create a layout of a city ourselves. We ended the day by gathering in a circle and sharing what we learned to the group.
One day down, a lot more to go! Already I have made friendships with my fellow peers. And it’s an honor to be able to spend time with these amazing people that I want to connect more with.
Finally, after a really short month of learning about the city, researching, and cobbling together our ideas to make a product, today was presentation. I was part of the presentation group, so I arrived at the Mercy Corps Action Center at 9:00 so we could practice our presentation since we hadn’t the day before. Doing our very first dry run just hours before we had to present was something familiar to me, so I was confident in the team to make an amazing presentation. Afterwards, we had a two-hour break before the presentation started. About half an hour before the presentation, when people started to show up, I began to feel slightly nervous, wondering if I should have practiced more.
When the time came to present, Beth, the Mercy Corp employee we worked with and George introduced us to a group of about 25 people. During the presentation, the audience seemed very engaged and interested in our project. After the presentation, there was also a Q&A session which our group handled very well, being able to answer all of the questions confidently.
Overall, I thought we gave an excellent presentation! Beth repeatedly said she was blown away with our work. Looking back on the month, as cliché as it sounds the journey was really the reward in the end. Everything I had learned walking around Portland, doing research about the earthquake, and working together with the group taught me so much. I’m very grateful for this entire experience and hope to be able to apply these skills to my future work.
Today was the culmination of our PLACE careers, today was presentation day. As everybody shuffled in, the mood in the air was somewhat tense, everyone’s minds were set on executing with perfection. Chatter of the previous night of long work was abundant and it brought many ideas of change to the table. One by one each idea was addressed and the presentation continued to morph.
Finally, when the entire presentation group arrived, a practice presentation commenced. After each person presented their part, suggestions were made and adaptation was necessary. Having such little time, everyone frantically made finishing touches to our presentation.
After a brief lunch break, the entire group convened back into the room full of all kind of emotion. Some were excited and some were nervous. As the ever so underwhelming number of Mercy Corps staff took their seats our minds cleared and everyone was ready to do their part.
When we were doneabsolutely killing our presentation, the entire group of students joined their peers in the spotlight. Question after question from the audience members, the group answered with great professionalism and our high level of knowledge and dedication was validated. Despite the redundant questioning from some listeners, our points and ideas were put on the table and they were not going to be ignored.
Following the presentation, the audience moved out and we had a quick meeting with Beth from Mercy Corps. The discussion displayed the high level of impression that we made yet showed us pushback we hadn’t really expected. As our time culminated, the whole group knew that for change and progress to happen, our continued dedication and passion for the subject would be needed.
To start the day we got into groups and worked on creating the products and presentation for Mercy Corps. It was a daunting task to start but having broken it down into smaller groups it became a lot more manageable. I spent the morning with the products group where we focused on creating helpful tools and visuals such as a website and handout in order to engage the audience of our presentation.
After lunch, we sat down with our state representative Earl Blumenauer. This was one of my favorite things we’ve gotten to do in PLACE because we were able to have an interesting and organic discussion with an important political figure rather than just a one sided Q and A. Specifically this discussion was around voting rights, such as how young people should be allowed to vote, the possibility of a test deciding whether or not you are qualified to vote, and the relationship between a citizens right to vote and their duties to their country. It was a pleasure to meet Mr. Blumenauer and I’m so thankful to PLACE for giving me this experience.
Hi, I’m Johana (bottom right), a french and malagasy student, and I’m doing a linguistic trip in Portland to improve my English. This morning, I visited the center thanks to Hannah, my host. When I arrived, George welcomed me with a big smile. I really like the casual atmosphere, the positive energy, and all the creativity in this center. All the young people here are involved in their project and it’s amazing to see how they are working together. I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit the CENTER and I hope one day I can stay longer to participate in future projects!
We started off the day in front of City Hall in downtown Portland. After everyone had gathered, we set off to the nearest park where George had us stand in different groups to represent the three different aspects of our project: education, preparation, and inspire to action. After we finished our visual representation of our project goals, we headed up to a meeting room where Mayor Hales.
We presented our project to Mr. Hales and he was very excited about this idea! He then answered our questions about his journey to becoming a mayor and what he does on a daily basis. He explained to us that he was not a very ‘political’ person, but rather just a guy who really felt a need to make a change in his community.
After our meeting with Mr. Hales, we ate lunch and walked over to the PSU Urban Building to split into our project groups and start working! With everyone working hard the time flew by and soon PLACE was over for a three day weekend. George instructed us all to come back Monday with everything finished for the editing process. Hopefully we will finish on time with a good product to present to Mercy Corps!
Today, after we presented on our research around youth involvement in the upcoming Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake, we talked about the next step in our project: What will our resource(s) be? We agreed to focus on three main goals for our final resource. We will educate and prepare youth, while making it easy and accessible for youth to take action in their own communities. Keeping these goals in mind, we presented different ideas in small groups.
In the end, we unanimously agreed on the same strategy for our final project. We want to create a network of clubs from different high schools in the Portland Metro area. These clubs will work with Mercy Corps and NET teams to educate, prepare, and inspire other youth to take action and become involved. Within these clubs, different tools can be made and used to educate youth and get them involved, such as websites, games, videos and/or quizzes.
With this strategy and these tools, we will address the needs of our client, Mercy Corps, by allowing youth from around the city to be involved in earthquake preparedness, take action and have their voices be heard, while also giving youth an opportunity to become better educated on the earthquake and more prepared.