• Each of you recently has completed field research, but now I’m going to turn the tables and ask you to be the interviewee. If a journalist was interested in your take on the demographic with which you’ve been […]

    • Based off my first class, I would want the journalist to know that felons truly have a heart for learning and that everyone deserves the opportunity to be educated. Education in my opinion and can be supported by some of my research is a basic human right. When we deny someone educational opportunites in prison or refuse to offer sound educational opportunites, we are denying someone of something they deserve and can prosper from. I think many of us need to be reminded of the importance of education. It is very easy to take things for granted, and I think it is a reminder to us all to be thankful for the education we are given. It is not neccesarily granted to everyone.

    • Jonathan Nwankwo

      If there was one thing I could tell somebody something I have learned about working with the kids at Carver Elementary School, it would be that I enjoy working with the little kids especially the first graders because they are willing to learn and always ask for help when they need it. Carver elementary is a good place to learn compared to what I thought it would look like after reading some articles that talked about the Richmond Public schools. The way people view the kids that go to Richmond public schools needs to be changed too because the kids are well behaved and are willing to learn and the mindset of people are to be changed from viewing these kids as stereotypes but instead view them as their future generation and should be willing to invest in them and also push them to be educated. This is important because if you care about the future, you have to care about the kids because they are the future.

    • One thing I would tell the journalist is that ex-offenders are in fact kind and wonderful people and they deserve a second chance at living life in a positive and healthy way, just like everyone else. What I learned at OAR is that once you hear each person’s story, you can see the struggle and the obstacles that lead them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It helps you understand what happened and it provides you with some insight, that not all ex-offenders are mean or dangerous. Hearing the story of each person I worked with really helped me open my eyes as to what the purpose of OAR was and why I was there. I want to be able to help these individuals in their journey back into society, because they’re all passionate about making their future bright.

    • If I could tell a journalist one thing about my experience working with OAR so far, I’d tell them that everyone I’ve met there has been great. They’re all there at OAR and participating in the creative class that my group’s doing because they’ve got hope that they can get back into the swing of things. I remember one participant putting in her work things like birds flying and unlocked doors; symbols of freedom. When people think about offenders who are gonna re-offend and are totally unrepentant (the stereotype), they don’t really get that that is just a really small percentage of the people who’ve been convicted of a crime. Most of them want to be able to have good lives once they get out of prison, which is why they come to OAR. I think that’s the most important thing that people should understand about the demographic at OAR. They’re doing the best they can to NOT be defined by something they did in the past, and its not fair to them that society views them in this really black-and-white light.

    • From what I have done so far in the OAR REK room, one thing that I want the journalist and also everyone to know is that every single person has the same potential as every one else. It is extremely difficult to try and convince a person to not judge someone else based on their past because our history do make us the people we are. However I still strongly believe that our history isn’t all that there is to each and every one of us. When i was working with the participants, the one thing that surprised me the most is the attitudes that these participants has toward their lives. It is incredible and admiring all at the same time to see how they picked themselves back up even after the roughest time. come to think of it, it is extremely easy to let yourself fall and give up but just to see that these individuals didn’t give up and kept going while putting all of their efforts in, that is extremely admirable and certainly something that most of us can learn from them. Volunteering at OAR had already taught me a lot about different type of people and just really opened up my mind to a much broader perspective …. this is something I hope that most people can do too.

    • I would tell the journalist that often children who live in low-income areas that have high crime rates are stereotyped as not wanting to learn, being disrespectful, and acting “gangster-like.” From my time at CHAT though, I can honestly say that the children I work with are so sweet, loving, and eager to learn. They conduct themselves extremely well and show respect for the tutors and adults during tutoring sessions.

      This stereotype, I believe, can prevent some people from volunteering with organizations that target demographics similar to CHAT’s. Some people do not want to put up with attitudes and chaos, especially for a volunteer opportunity after they have dealt with such conditions at work, in school, etc. I can personally attest though to the calming effect of tutoring these children. It is not an inlet for stress but rather a remedy for the anxiety of the day. People need to know this truth because organizations like CHAT need more people to pour into the children’s lives.

      What does this say about me personally? Well, I will say that it shows that I have changed. While I love children, I was a little hesitant originally about volunteering with them because I thought that it would wear me out. However, the opposite is true: Now, I have a renewed energy.

    • One thing that I would tell the journalists is that everyone deserves a second chance. With working at OAR and working with people who were once incarcerated, I strongly believe that they deserve a second chance. People look down on those once incarcerated and there is such a bad view on them and I hate that. These people are just like you and me and just got mixed up with the wrong crowd. OAR is a great organization and the people who work there are incredible.

    • The one thing that I would tell a journalist about the project I’ve been working on is that ex-offenders are by no means the bad people that society believes them to be.
      I would choose to tell the journalist this because I think that this is ultimately what I am learning while working at OAR and that I think it is what the public most needs to learn about offenders, ex-offenders, and our country’s prison system.
      Thanks to stigma and stereotyping, offenders and even ex-offenders are viewed as a plague on society’s law-abiding citizens, however, this is absolutely not the case. Ex-offenders are more often than not good people who made a mistake in their lives, something we are all guilty of. Therefore, we need the public to learn what I am learning this semester.

    • If I could tell the journalists one thing, I would tell them that the students at Carver have just as much potential as the students at any other school. The only difference is that it may take a little more for them to realize their potential because of they’re surroundings and what they see everyday outside of school. This being said, they should be provided the same opportunity and resources as any other student from a “good” neighborhood and they aren’t. I think this is important for people to know because outsiders tend to blame the parents or the students for not caring or being lazy when this is not always the case. The school system and the city need to be held responsible for the part they play (or don’t play) in the conditions of RPS. For me, it doesn’t matter where you come from but where you go in life and every single child deserves the opportunity to to go as far as they can. I think people fail to realize that one day all students will be adult members of our community, so depriving them of resources and education is not only detrimental to those students but to everyone.

    • If there is one thing I have learned about the people I work with at OAR, it is that although they may face challenges, they truly are working hard to get back to a stable life. People often group ex-offenders into a category that doesn’t really care to better themselves, but each time I volunteer with OAR I am more and more convinced that is not the case. Each one of those mean and women bring in a new task for the day that gets them one step closer to a more normal life, be it job searches, help with resumes, or scheduling appointments for themselves. These people are not lazy. They are determined to get their lives back together even though they know they face obstacles that many other people will never have to deal with. Yes, they have criminal records that set them aside from the community, but I honestly believe they are more hard working than many people I have met in my life. Their compassion to better themselves will pay off in the end, and I am proud to say I am able to be there to help them through parts of their journeys.

    • If a journalist was interested in my take on the demographic with which I’ve been working this semester, I would tell him that OAR is a program full of opportunity and second chances. I want the broader public to know that this program allows ex-offenders another opportunity at a successful life through the help of volunteers and interns who aid them in resume writing, application filling, interviewing-acing clients. I want people to know how much hope and determination the clients have, and how much they really do deserve the help of OAR. I choose to illustrate this because I am a firm believer in second chances. Everybody makes mistakes; we are all human. And we can’t let our past mistakes define who we are today. These clients aren’t defined by their mistakes and the public needs to realize this. If people were more open to volunteer and give some time to the community, then there would be less crime in the world as well as decreased recidivism rates.

      Kathy Tieu

    • If a journalist was interested in what I had to say, I would tell them about the importance of personal relationships. I would tell them that personal relationships have a huge impact on children and what they can do. Parents should keep on eye on who they’re getting close to to make sure they’re not getting into the wrong crowd. But parents should also be there for their children and push them to do their best because ultimately they have the most impact on their children. The person I interviewed is a teacher and try to have that personal connection with his students to help them with more than just school and that connection could be what saves a childs life or causes them to pursue a higher education and end a cycle of poverty.

    • I would say that the kids in CHAT are good kids, they need some guidance, but they are young and they have a bright future ahead of them. I would definitely want to emphasize that CHAT is helping out the Church Hill area, and has helped to bring the community together. I say this because people may have heard bad things about the Church Hill area, but it really isn’t. Church Hill is a very nice neighborhood. CHAT is really there to help keep an eye on the kids while their parents are working, and most of the kids in CHAT are living with one parent, not two. CHAT is also there to help the kids succeed with their academics along with having fun and learning new skills. The kids are great and sure they can be a hand full but they are kids that are interested in learning new things and trying out new activities and I really enjoy working with them.

    • If I had to say one thing I would say something about the stereo-type of kids that live in poverty stricken areas. The stereo type is that these kids are all hard and tough. The type of kid who doesn’t want to sit in a classroom and learn, the type that is hardened by the streets and at home.

      My time in C.H.A.T. has shown me that this is definitely not the case. The kids in C.H.A.T. that I’ve had the pleasure of doing my service learning with are some of the brightest and most cheerful kids I’ve met in my life. They’re always so full of energy and smiles. They are some of the sweetest kids I’ve met in my life and all of them are way smarter than most people would give them.

      I think it’s important that others see this because I don’t think that it’s right for people to be stereotyped like they usually are. I know people stereotyped against me all the time about how nerdy I was and many other things in my earlier years. I’m glad that programs like C.H.A.T. can make these different stereotypes go away and show the better qualities of these children and the future of those that live in the neighborhood.

    • One thing i will tell the journalist is that my student is student a wonderful child, she enjoys being around me and also waiting on my to come in, she asks question about my school, my age, the day i was born and also she is always ready to work on something with me. she loves working with others, she is most friendly with everyone around both students and mentors. i would also mention how all the kids been mentored are always happy when they come down with their mentors, they all have that smile to that face that tells that they are happy to have that one-on-one time with you that they wouldn’t have had with their teachers or friends. i think it very nice and important how they feel about being mentored by a college students and how they enjoy it, how they feel free to talk to them, associate with them and even play with them its’s just so beautiful, at the end of the day you know that you put that smile on their face by just giving them just that 1 to 2 hours of your time to them.

    • If I wanted the broader public to know one thing, it would be to know that the children of the demographic at Carver Elementary and similar schools are the same as children of any demographic and deserve the same amount of resources and opportunities. Some people might be quick to judge the kids before getting to know them solely based on the demographic, especially considering the majority race and the economic level. However, these aren’t uncivilized kids who have no interest or future in education. The kids are very nice, friendly, and just like any other kid at an elementary school. They are also curious, so they want to learn new things in an interesting way, and want to be taken seriously and have things explained to them. If given the same opportunities and resources as other schools, I believe the kids would probably perform at similar levels. Occasionally some students might be hard to control, but it is the same as any other school, and they truly do look up to older students like us and love the fact that we are willing to spend time with them.

    • Nicholas Beiler-

      If I could only tell the journalist one thing about those I work with, it would have to be, never underestimate them. I feel like some of the public opinions of those who are or were incarcerated, leads the public to keep there difference. I remember telling my mom i was working with ex-offenders and she was shocked. The reason I encourage people to never underestimate them is because the are still people and I feel the amount of life experience these people have is astonishing, thats why I personally love hearing about their life stories. I think I love listening to there stories because in a way it is a success story and I feel that I am able to learn from them. My point is that I don’t want the public avoiding ex-offenders as they already do, I want people to see how amazing they are, and that they are trying to better themselves.

    • If I could only tell the journalist one thing about people who are incarcerated, it would be that they are still human and deserve a second chance. Many of the people, who are incarcerated, are in because of drug charges or petty crimes. When they finally can leave the jail or prison and want make a better life for themselves, there is a huge sign above their head that says “I’m a Felon!”. Then no one wants to associate with them. Hence basic things like finding jobs, a place to live, etc. become almost impossible. The one thing that doesn’t make sense to me is that a jail or prison is a correctional facility, suppose to “fix” them, right? Then why is it that once they have served the sentence for the crime they have committed they are still shunned from society? Shouldn’t they be able to live freely as well ?

    • From my time working with Carver Promise, I would tell the journalist that each child is capable of reaching their highest potential no matter where they come from. Children are one of the most fascinating things in this world. Time and time again, I am constantly amazed at how they see the world around them. Through their eyes, the simplicity of the world is revealed. Unfortunately, there are children that see limitations more than potential. In inner-city public schools like G.W. Carver Elementary, there are children who live like this and are oftentimes forced to grow up faster than others. However, there is still hope for the future of these children through programs such as Carver Promise. Thus, bringing this information to a wider audience can inspire others to help a worthy cause.

    • The one thing I would tell the journalist is that giving these elementary kids mentors really helps. It gives them a whole new perspective and through my time at Carver I have seen how much the kids love having mentors. I would like people to know and understand that if you put effort and time into these kids that you can change their lives. You can give them motivation and trust, someone to look up to, and truly improve their outlook on life. I am very happy to be given this opportunity.

    • If I were to say one thing about the volunteers at OAR is that they are hopeful and wish to better themselves. These individuals are not what people make them out to be. I have been able to see this because of the work I have been doing at OAR. I find it important to say this because there is already a stigma against these people already.