Stand UP DC 1: Update #1

Stand Up DC 1 Update #1
By: Sean Riordan, Boston, MA

Hello, BBYO Passport parents and guardians!

These last 2 1/2 days were filled to the brim with exciting and rich activities.We began in our respective airports with some light meetings. Once we all met up, stopped by CVS and situated ourselves in our rooms, we immediately left and began our twelve-day journey into Stand UP DC. After a tour of the George Washington University campus and dinner, we went to the dorm building’s basement and discussed homelessness, laid bare our internalized biases, and prepped ourselves for the rest of the two weeks.We ended the night with some icebreakers – and what a break we made!

We have already started lowering our guards when we began our first workshop the next morning – a discussion about gentrification with ONE DC accompanied by a tour of a neighborhood in its clutches. Then, we had an unforgettable meal at the historic Ben’s Chili Bowl, and everybody shared a silence as they ate in mutual marvel at the food that captured the hearts of greats like Barack Obama and Elvis Presley. We were even greeted by Ben’s wife, Virginia! After Ben’s, we went to Street Sense, a newspaper that features and employs homeless and formerly homeless DC residents. We met three staff members, songwriters Patty and Reginald as well as film producer Chon, who shattered and rebuilt our perceptions of homelessness and exposed many nuances and unknown details of homelessness – all in a couple hours. After that, we had dinner on King’s Street in Virginia and took a boat tour of the monuments back to Georgetown!

Day Three began in groups – because of our large group size, we split the boys and girls for their own respective service activities. The boys woke up early and we left the dorm at 5:50 AM to Some Others May Eat (SOME), a restaurant for the homeless and hungry, and served breakfast and lunch until 1:00. Meanwhile, the girls left at 8:00 for a discussion-based workshop and went through various scenarios in order to learn about ways employment opportunities may contribute to poverty. We joined up again at CAVA Mediterranean restaurant for lunch, before going to Mazon. At Mazon, we ran a simulation about the passing of a government bill related to SNAPS (food stamps). The heat of the debate, desperate lobbying and even occasional bribery truly reflected that which surrounds a real vote!  Then, a third of us went to McKenna’s Wagon, an institution similar to Meals on Wheels, and the rest of us explored the Chinatown neighborhood for a couple hours and enjoyed the Portrait Gallery. Finally, after joining up for dinner, we discussed our experiences together in the dorm. We have already learned so much and we can’t wait to continue our experience!

Participant Quotes
“The interactive experience has really educated me about the issue of homelessness, poverty and hunger that is deeply embedded in American society” – Jonah Song, Portland, OR

“I never realized there was so much about homelessness and hunger that I didn’t know, and it really changed my perception” – Clay Fischer, Dallas, TX

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment