Today was my first CBSL placement with Street Culture. Even though it was shorter experience I still learned some new things. The first thing I learned was that even if you want to get to know the kids you must give them time to get use to you first. The girl I worked with today had anxiety and my supervisor said to just give her time and she may or may not want to get to know you. For the first part of the placement we went to the YMCA to go workout and while we were there the girl did not really want to talk. After everything we had done me and the other placement student were outside with her and she decided to start telling us about herself without us prompting her to. I assume she became comfortable and wanted us to get to know her.
The second thing I learned is that the kids also have a big part in helping with the Street Culture organization. When we returned from the YMCA the girl we were with for the day helped us prepare lunch for the staff and youth on site. Even though she was one of the youth in the program she also had a part in running some of the things which I did not know happened. She showed us where all the supplies were to cook and gave us tips on how the food preparation was normally done. I find that when you are working with the youth doing similar things you get to know each other better and they feel more comfortable with you.
The third thing I learned was that Street Culture has multiple programs that happen across the city. The program that I was apart of today was called Pit Stop and what happens with this program is that youth learn valuable life skills as well as gaining work experience to help prepare them for life outside of the program. Also in this program with staff and the youth you go to places like the gym or swimming pool and spend time being physically active with the kids. Street Culture also has programs like mentoring which you spend one on one time with one of the youth or group mentoring with more than one kid usually with other placement students. While mentoring you support and guide the kids to develop independent living skills. Another great program the organization provides is emergency youth services such as housing if kids need it.
One of the connections I made with this experience was back to my first experience in a classroom for my ECS placement. All the kids on the first day were not sure of who I was and did not converse but as time went on and they got to know me they began talking to me. This was like what happened with the girl today who did not know me but the longer we spent together the more comfortable she became and told me about herself.
The second connection I made was to the topic we covered in our seminar about the different approaches to parenting. In class we discussed Authoritarian, Permissive, Authoritative, the Uninvolved/Negligent approaches to parenting. Since I am unsure if I can say what kind of parenting this youth described for reasons of confidentiality, I will say that the material covered in class was accurate. Based on parents actions this youth’s characteristics aligned with what the material said would happen. Since I was seeing in person what we covered in class I made this personal connection which I did not have before.
One question that I still have is: Are there better ways to try to connect with youth besides trying to make small talk and giving it time? I understand it is important to give them time to approach you but are there ways to make yourself more approachable than others? I will continue to give them time but I am curious of how other people approach this situation.