From a Crossroads, a New Path

On May 14, Partners for Change Fellow Jamiela McDonnough, served as one of two guest speakers for the Colin Powell Center’s End-of-Year Celebration. Jamiela, a senior majoring in biology with a minor in studio art, offered the following excerpted remarks to her fellow students, family members, Center staff, and guests.

It’s the end of another academic year. The Center is winding down for the semester and it’s my turn to graduate. Now for as long as I have been waiting for this moment, it feels different than I expected. I feel happy and excited, of course. But I feel a little sad and sentimental, things I thought I’d never feel at graduation.

jamiela_talk1On May 14, Partners for Change Fellow Jamiela McDonnough, served as one of two guest speakers for the Colin Powell Center’s End-of-Year Celebration. Jamiela, a senior majoring in biology with a minor in studio art, offered the following excerpted remarks to her fellow students, family members, Center staff, and guests.

It’s the end of another academic year. The Center is winding down for the semester and it’s my turn to graduate. Now for as long as I have been waiting for this moment, it feels different than I expected. I feel happy and excited, of course. But I feel a little sad and sentimental, things I thought I’d never feel at graduation. I’ve had my share of challenges at City College not unlike most of you. A little over a year ago, I would have sold a kidney to graduate early. But looking back on things now, I realize that everything happens for a reason. The rocky path I chose has led me to some great opportunities including being here to speak with you all. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Continue reading “From a Crossroads, a New Path”

Teaching Health-Care Rights to Empower Patients

Health-care march. Photo by Neil Parekh/SEIU Healthcare 775NW; courtesy Creative CommonsBy Nur Afsar

I worried that even 25 seats would be too many. But as people flooded through the doors, I saw that my worry was unwarranted: We quickly put out more chairs for what was to be an amazing learning experience.

Last week on May 2, my Partners for Change colleagues—Salma Asous, Syed Haider, Jamiela McDonnough—and I led a health-care rights workshop for parents of children enrolled in programs at the New Apartment Settlements’ College Access Center in the Bronx. In the presentation titled “Know Your Rights,” we outlined patients’ rights to language access, financial assistance, emergency treatment, and accommodations for disabilities within the health-care system. Many of the parents were Spanish-speaking, so we brought a translator with us. After going over basics, we gave out colored cards corresponding to true and false and quizzed our audience, who answered most questions correctly. I could see my feelings of joy and pride mirrored on my fellow facilitators’ faces: We were making ourselves understood!

Continue reading “Teaching Health-Care Rights to Empower Patients”

Screening and Talk with Soul Food Junkies Director Byron Hurt

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, fellows of the Colin Powell Center will cosponsor the award-winning documentary Soul Food Junkies. The screening will include a talk with director/activist Byron Hurt. Soul Food Junkies will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the campus of the City College of New York in the North Academic Building (NAC) Rm. 1/202. RSVP to workshop@twn.org.

Soul food photo by Jennifer Woodard MaderazoOn Wednesday, Dec. 5, fellows of the Colin Powell Center will cosponsor the award-winning documentary Soul Food Junkies. The screening will include a talk with director/activist Byron Hurt. Soul Food Junkies will take place at 6:30 p.m. in NAC 1/202. RSVP to workshop@twn.org. Continue reading “Screening and Talk with Soul Food Junkies Director Byron Hurt”

Inside Project 18: Laying the Foundation for HIV Prevention

By Arielle Elmaleh-Sachs, Colin Powell leadership fellow

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HIV testing is part of a broader strategy of intervention, counseling and support through the Project 18 research program. Photo: Creative Commons/Johnnyalive

I am sitting across from Marvin, and even though we just met fifteen minutes ago, he is sharing with me some of the most intimate aspects of his life—his social support, his sex life, his drug use, his feelings about HIV and his understanding about HIV prevention. We are the same age, and we are having an honest and open conversation about trust in relationships. He grapples with understanding how trust in a relationship can possibly protect him from HIV transmission.

At the end of our conversation, he will be administered an HIV test, and take a computerized self-interview where he will answer 300 questions concerning different aspects of his daily life. Then I will conclude the interview, sending him off with a bag of condoms, community referrals, and of course, his financial incentive.

Continue reading “Inside Project 18: Laying the Foundation for HIV Prevention”

Center Fellows Reflect on the Meaning and Challenges of Service (Part II)

This is the second post in a two part series on a Wiki created by the Colin Powell Center’s Partners for Change fellows to explore themes around the idea of “service”, focusing here on “permanence”.

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This “word cloud” was generated using terms pulled from the fellows’ Service Wiki. Image via Wordle.net.

This is the second post in a two part series on a Wiki created by the Colin Powell Center’s Partners for Change fellows to explore themes around the idea of “service”.

During our discussions of “service” in the Partners for Change seminar another emergent theme was “permanence.” Questions and assertions of service projects’ longevity and sustainability were tossed around while trying to define what makes a project effective. In other words, how do we know if service is making an impact? There were several conflicting views on permanence as it relates to service, but all the fellows’ voices were heard. At the end of the unit, and perhaps after some important time for reflection, the fellows produced a collaborative voice in their “Service Wiki.” The following is an excerpt on “permanence.” Continue reading “Center Fellows Reflect on the Meaning and Challenges of Service (Part II)”

To Improve Health in Harlem, a Fellow Joins the Community

Forget “veni, vidi, vici.” A Colin Powell Center Partners for Change fellow explains that before you can help change a community, you must become part of it first.

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Rebecca Moore at a health fair attended by the Partners for Change health care fellows. Photo: Sophie Gray

Before having the opportunity to be a Colin Powell Partners for Change health fellow I had never truly recognized the health crisis facing the Harlem community. I knew it existed, but before I was given a chance to meet the community and discuss the daily lives and activities of people past whom I have walked on the streets for the three years I have lived in Harlem, I did not know how complex and deep rooted these issues were.

Continue reading “To Improve Health in Harlem, a Fellow Joins the Community”

Soda Bad, Pot Okay? Pondering New York’s New Legal Paradigm

What can we say about a New York where big sodas are illegal and marijuana is okay?

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7-Eleven’s Big Gulp has escaped the proposed big soda ban. Photo: section 215M / Creative Commons

In New York City, buying a 24 ounce soda was fine a month ago. Openly possessing marijuana was not. Since then, a lot has changed. Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a plan to ban the sale of sugary drinkers larger than 16 ounces; Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a bill, with Bloomberg’s support, to reduce the charge for open possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation.

Rather than editorialize on either plan (there has been a lot of that already), I want to point out some surprising connections between the two. Continue reading “Soda Bad, Pot Okay? Pondering New York’s New Legal Paradigm”

Center Fellows Reflect on the Meaning and Challenges of Service (Part I)

The Center’s Partners for Change fellows created a Wiki to discuss the challenges and complexities of service, here is an excerpt on the role of culture.

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A Partners for Change fellow measures community members’ blood pressure. Photo: Alejandro Cerdena

Over the course of their year, the Partners for Change Fellows supported various nonprofit organizations working to improve the state of college access and success as well as health care in the Harlem community by providing regular, weekly service. After a seminar unit on “service” in which fellows read and discussed various authors’ view points on service, several themes began to emerge. Continue reading “Center Fellows Reflect on the Meaning and Challenges of Service (Part I)”