Summer Enrichment; How to Feed the Minds, Bodies and Hearts of Children and Their Families

20160721_promiseZone01_jwc.jpgThe end of the academic year can be a time of mixed emotions for those in the public education system.  Social construct would have us believe that everyone is eagerly waiting for that last bell to ring with visions of summer vacations and adventures.  The reality for many, however, is the increase of stress and financial challenges as the supports offered during the academic year disappear for the summer months.   Food insecurity, summer learning loss and lack of safe supervision during the summer months are major concerns facing many school districts and families at the end of each year.  These challenges can be exacerbated in rural communities with fewer resources and little to no transportation options.

The Broome County Promise Zone implemented a county-wide, university-assisted community school model to “Summer Zones,” a model that connects middle school, high school and college-level students.  In the rural community of Whitney Point. N.Y. — which spans more than 140 square miles with no public transportation — school administration, community partners and creative thinking, has lead to unique partnerships for a six week learning opportunity that feeds body, mind and heart of each participant.  The journey began three years ago when the Whitney Point school district approached Broome County Promise Zone with a request to help start summer learning programs. Partnering with a long standing community agencies and the school district, a summer program that connected middle school children to educational opportunities — while providing families with the peace of mind knowing their children were safe and fed for six weeks out of the summer, was born.

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Since its inception, the Summer Zone in this rural community has begun to look at summer learning in a very different light.  Not only are educational activities and events planned and implemented, a model of mentoring is established with middle school students serving as participants while their high school peers are employed as youth mentors through the use of state-funded workforce program.  An additional layer of support to the children and families are the college students who also volunteer and work at the Summer Zones, serving as role models to the participants helping to instill the children’s own pursuit of higher education. The university-assisted model also uses college visits and access to university faculty, who share their love for learning and empower the participants through career preparation. Although exciting and enriching, this model is being utilized in many areas throughout the country. The Broome County Promise Zone’s innovative model also focuses on addressing community and summer hunger.

Every Tuesday morning throughout the summer, there is a multi-colored, produce-painted school bus parked on Main Street, which belongs to a county-wide hunger outreach program. It spends two hours a week in this rural community, offering fresh produce at little to no cost. The Summer Zone participants greet the bus as it drove into town, offering them access to different fruits and veggies on a weekly basis. The participants also distribute the fresh produce through the community, giving them an opportunity to learn more about healthier lifestyle habits and build relationships with their fellow community members.

For their services, each week students were given a large box of food to take home to their families. The food was donated by the hunger outreach program as a gesture of gratitude for the student’s civic duties and commitment to their community. This bartering system was put into place to provide families with another source of food support during the summer months. This system was also strategically implemented to help eliminate the stigma associated with accepting the food boxes while at camp. In addition, it was an opportunity for students to feel empowered for their service. Throughout the camp, students expressed that the approach allowed for them to feel invested, capable and useful — rather than needy and helpless.

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Family engagement is a key component of the community school model. During recruitment for camp, a community school coordinator purposefully informs families about the food bus and the USDA Summer Food Lunch service that would be offered onsite at camp. For the families of students who attended camp, it became obvious that they were more likely to utilize the food bus and come and use the USDA Summer food site because they wanted to share in child’s summer camp experience. Families would walk down and purchase produce from the bus or walk down and have lunch with their camper. For the parents who couldn’t make it onsite, they would often send some extra change in for their students to purchase some items from the food bus. Funding granted to the food bus from a local financial institution specifically allowed for hundreds of lunches to be purchased, through the USDA program, that were sent home with campers once a week. Statistics show that in New York State, only 1 out of every 4 children who receive free or reduced price meals during the school year continue to receive meals during the summer months (Food & Health Network of South Central, New York, 2015). This is why it is so crucial for this rural summer enrichment programs to partner with the local food outreach programs to combat summer hunger.

Summer programs are essential to the healthy development of young people, especially in the context of the growing problem of childhood obesity. Studies show that children’s weight increases and fluctuates are higher rates during the summer than during the school, year, due to lack of access to nutritious meal and snack options and opportunities to participate in physical activities (New York State Afterschool Network, 2015). As we begin to plan for Summer Zone this year, much of the health and wellness curriculum focuses on supporting summer hunger through community partnerships. The holistic development of the youth in this rural community is a necessity, as we help to feed their minds, through their bellies. This summer, participants will be volunteering their time again with the food bus. They will also be volunteering with a new CSA, Farm Share Program that is coming to this rural town, helping to distribute farm shares each week and cook meals at camp from their very own farm share. The cooking lessons will be offered by a local non-profit food and health program. Students will also attend a field trip at the local farm, where the produce is harvested, giving students a real farm-to-table experience.

-Luann Kida, community schools director at Broome County Promise Zone, and Colleen Cunningham Rozelle, community schools coordinator and research assistant at Broome County Promise Zone

Studying abroad while studying abroad

Looking back on my time in Peru I can say that the experience was life changing; from the amazing people I met, to falling in love with a different culture. Cusco, Peru is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cusco Province right at the base of the Andes mountains that hosts thousands of tourists every day. Speaking to the locals I came to understand that most are very happy about the increasing tourist activity because that is their primary source of  income. When you get a chance to visit Cusco you will see that most, if not all stores and markets are geared towards tourists.

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Due to our volunteer work with Abre Puertas, Corazón de Dahlia and the Comedores, we were able to get away from the bustling city life and gain an understanding of the daily life most Peruvian people live. Working with the children was fantastic because the children are not glued to any technological devices.They want to play all day. It was a refreshing experience to see that it was the simple things that made them excited. For example, they did not need any ipads or phones to be happy, instead all they needed was a soccer ball and someone to play with. This made it so much easier to work with them, and I left happy arriving to the site everyday, seeing them so excited and making sure we get off the bus fast so they can start playing with us. It was an unforgettable experience seeing a new culture and a people who are grateful for the simple things in life.

However, we did not only volunteer and take Spanish classes. We were fortune enough to be part of the annual Cusquenan festivities. It was a fantastic experience to be part of the Inti Raymi holiday. It was really interesting to see the performances at the Plaza de Armas (Downtown of Cusco). The weeks beforehand we saw a lot of groups practice their dances and acts at night. Seeing the hard work these performers put into their practices was very nice and I am sure very rewarding for them. Especially when they put on their traditional dresses and perform in front of thousands of people. Even though everyone has their own lifestyle here in Peru and most of the people live a life far from the Incan tradition it was really nice to see the performances around Plaza de Armas.

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After being back in the U.S. I must admit that I truly miss the four course meal that we got from our host families every evening. Especially now since I have to cook for myself again when our host mom always switched it up so that no one meals was the same. I can say that living with a host family was a great experience to become immersed in the Peruvian culture and also enjoy a great variety of Peruvian food.

I have been back in the states for a week now and it was interesting to get used to the New York City lifestyle again. At first I wanted to say “gracias” to people here in New York City, it is funny how three weeks in Peru makes spanish almost second nature to you. When I walk by street musicians I have flashbacks of Peru remembering the groups outside practicing or other individuals playing their instruments while singing.

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It was very nice to see people out and about on a Sunday when a couple of us hiked and traveled around Cusco. The locals were playing soccer on wide fields with two stones representing both goal nets. We passed many fields where people were hanging out and enjoying their day off from work. At one particular field many Peruvians were having a Barbecue. It was similar to a American Barbecue but also very different with the handmade ovens comprised of dirt and clay. Those ovens are used to cook the 3,000 different kinds of potatoes that they have in Peru (no exaggeration in Peru there are 3,000 different kinds of potatoes).

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The Binghamton University Study abroad program in Peru was an amazing opportunity to learn about another culture, in addition to take authentic spanish classes. I made some hopefully lifelong friendships with some of the children. One child named Antonio, wrote a letter to me and I hope to stay in touch with him. I know it will be tough because he does not have an home address and only internet access at Abre Puertas so it will be challenging. I am positive though that it will work out. Thank you for the financial support I received from the CCPA Latin American Scholarship Fund Award and the Reeves Ellington Scholarship. Without the financial help I would have not been able to gain such a great experience, for that I am beyond thankful! I can see myself returning to an impoverished country like Peru sometime soon hopefully for a longer time.

–MPA candidate Pascal Trappe ’15

Comedores Populares are the tasty and vital “soup kitchens” of Peru

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Comedores Populares are the tasty and vital “soup kitchens” of Peru. Serving over 50 community members a week including men, women, and children, the women of the comedores are working to prevent malnourishment in their communities

What?

We were very excited and eager to begin our third service project at the comedor in San Martin de Porres in Cusco. Knowing just how important these soup kitchens are to the lives of those who are severely poverty stricken, made us confident that the work we will do is pertinent and desperately needed. This specific comedor needed its building to be remodeled due to tremendous wear and tear that was beginning to prevent the women from being able to serve daily meals. Seeing just how damaged the building was set the tone that immediate work was needed. Before beginning our work at this site, we were skeptical about whether or not our help was wanted or if we would just be intruding upon a private and secure place that these women know so well. Those thoughts immediately went out the door once we were greeted with welcoming and happy faces. After some time of deconstructing the outside of the building, it became apparent that our group, along with two local men, were the only people assisting with this project. We began to reflect on this and realized just how important physical labour can be to a group of older women who might not have the time or strength to transform their place of work. Assisting them with this transformation allowed us to feel as though we were solidifying their independence by not having to depend on their husbands or pay someone to do this job for them. We knew that the work we were going to do in restructuring the building was not only going to have a positive effect on the lives of the women, but also the people who depend on this comedore for daily meals.

 

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So What?

Comedores Populares are non governmental organizations that are beneficial to the lives of many Peruvians that live below the poverty line. These soup kitchens serve daily meals at discounted prices that people would not otherwise be able to afford in local restaurants. We now know that the women who have built and managed the comedores are able to feed and support their families because of their work. Beyond providing affordable meals for the community, the comedores also provides services for mothers and babies, families that experience divorce, while also dealing with domestic violence and the abuse of children. One of the first things that came to mind while conversing with the women of the comedores is to start a gardening project, where they grow their own potatoes and vegetables. This would reduce the need to partner with the municipality and decrease the cost of food. Some of the broader issues that arise from the situation are the lack of access to resources like gas tanks and the lack of control over the locations. Unfortunately, it is not guaranteed that the women will always be able to use the same space for services. Often times they are relocated for various purposes because it is seen as a small organization. It is important to remember that the Comedores Populares are a source of empowerment for those that work, volunteer and solicit services. Therefore, during our time volunteering we have vowed to create a space that is functional and safe.

Now what?

As public service agents in the social work and public administration fields, we are cognizant of the fact that our goal is not to change anything in the community organizations that we serve. At times, it can be easy to fall into the savior complex but we have to consistently be aware and reflect upon our actions to counter that instinct. Whenever we engage with communities that are poverty stricken, we must always be mindful that our work needs to be for the benefit of the people and not us. At this comedore, our purpose is solely to draw on the strengths of the women, while helping them develop their organization. All in all, it is inspiring to see that with minimal resources and dedicated individuals an exponential amount of work can be done to provide a safe space for families to eat and receive services.

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Arlene Arisme and Brittany Santos, MSW candidates

Finding Privilege from a Non-Privileged Background

When I travel to foreign countries, I always like to make an effort to fit into a given society and culture. Since my trip to Cusco, Peru in the beginning of June was my first experience in the continent of South America (and my first time in any Spanish-speaking country for that matter) so I was expecting the unexpected. One of the reasons why I decided to embark on such an adventure, which came as a surprise to my friends and family, was because I felt that I needed to step out of my comfort zone in the Anglophone and Sinophone world. After spending three weeks in Cusco, I learned a significant amount about not only the Cusqueno culture and the Spanish language, but also about my deeply embedded habits and privileges as an American living in the United States for such a long period of time.

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As a minority from a low-income background, I always thought of myself as someone who lacks privilege compared to my peers. When comparing my personal circumstances to others, I usually cannot fathom how fortunate most of my friends and classmates are to have their tuition and university costs covered by their parents. Unlike most of my peers, I am responsible for covering my own tuition, housing situation, food, transportation, and other expenses, including my study abroad trip to Peru, without financial assistance from my parents. Coming from a rough background, I had to learn to be independent from a young age in order to survive. As such, prior to departure date, I did not expect that life could be much worse than mine.

However, my experience in Cusco led me to believe differently about my situation back at home in the United States. When I saw the number of adults and children on the streets of Cusco trying to sell candy, snacks, drinks, knitted and woven goods, and other merchandises on a daily basis, I felt completely different from being in a classroom setting at my university. What caught my attention even more was the number of children I met working at Abre Puertas and Corazon de Dahlia who lived in the outskirts of town and in the elevated areas of the mountains that lacked educational opportunities and privileges that I have as an underprivileged member of American society. For example, I realized that I am still able to enjoy the privileges of having hot water to shower, clean and safe pavement to walk on, more than enough clothes to wear, Wi-Fi to use on a daily basis, and many other perks that low-income Cusquenos are unable to enjoy. Instead of witnessing these norms that are common in my society, I saw the gratitude that these children possessed from not having much at all at Abre Puertas and Corazon de Dahlia. On the other hand, I also witnessed the miserable individuals on the streets begging for money and freezing at night as they try to sleep. The combination of these experiences led me to grasp that my underprivileged status is incomparable to these individuals who have even less than what I possessed.

After arriving back in New York City, I learned that, despite my underprivileged background, I should still be grateful for what I have. More importantly, my experience in Peru fueled my eagerness to land a career that will help the disadvantaged because there are too many problems, some more urgent than others, that need to be solved in the world. Thanks to the financial support I received from the CCPA Latin American Scholarship Fund Award, I was able to gain an understanding of poverty that I did not expect to experience. With this experience, I hope to one day be able to provide service in a broader and more extensive scope, especially to parts of the impoverished world that are less known and, as such, often unreached.

Manshui Lam ’15, MPA candidate

Students observe a world wonder and the effects of tourism in Peru

On our way to Machu Picchu

Wow it’s been two weeks now that we have been taking classes and volunteering in Cusco. Time flies by and we are already past our last weekend here in Peru. One tourist attraction that we all really hoped to see before the trip was Machu Picchu. This past weekend it was time to head to Machu Picchu. Our group was very excited but also a little sad because our time here in Cusco will be over soon.

What:

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10:00 – A bus drove us from Cusco to the train station Ollantaytambo, which is two hours away.

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On the way to the train station we stopped in the Sacred Valley. Our tour guide Santiago told us a little bit about the mountain and the river that flows through the valley. The view was incredible!

13:27 – Train left Ollantaytambo

15:10 – We arrived at Aguas Calientes

The train ride was incredible. We rode right along the river and were able to see the beautiful scenery of Peru. One thing that was very interesting was that the train stopped on our way before we arrived in Aguas Calientes. We stopped in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden I saw two kids waiting on the side of the road. First I thought they were just curious and wanted to see the people and the train that passes them. However, after a few minutes I realized that they did not come say hi. A few crew members of the train threw the leftovers to them (sandwiches, mandarins, soda). I really liked that because it showed that they would not waste the food that was not consumed and rather give it to the people that seemed to need it.

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When we arrived at Aguas Calientes some of us went to get food. As soon as we started to look for restaurants we found out that our tour guide Santiago was right when he told us that this town will be the most expensive city here in the Cusco region. Ryan and I needed to bargain with the restaurant owner to get more food since everything was overpriced. After we ate, our group went to a hot spring. Let’s say this…it was very interesting. We all expected that we will be swimming in the nature. However, it turned out that there were just a couple pools with water from the stream. Not all of our group went in the pool because it looked dirty and a lot of people were in there. After taking a shower we went to find a restaurant. We all got a pizza because we thought that is one food we probably won’t get sick from. I can tell you as I am laying in bed with food poisoning three days later: DO NOT EAT PIZZA in Aguas Calientes haha.

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3:50 – Wake up call

4:10 – We walked to the bus station and people were already waiting

5:30 – The bus finally drives us up to Machu Picchu

6:10 – We are at Machu Picchu Mountain!

6:40 – Santiago guides us through the ruins for about two hours. His knowledge was very impressive and it was really interesting to listen to what he had to say about Inca history. All those houses and buildings are still in a very good shape, which was very fascinating.

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8:40 – Bathroom break; getting ready for the hike.

9:00 – Mosquito spray on? Sunscreen on? LET’S DO THIS!

11:00 – We made it!

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Everyone pretty much made it on the top. The view on the path was breathtaking but it was even better on the top. After taking lots of pictures we went back down to catch one of the buses.

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15:00 – Bus back to the hotel.

One more meeting after getting lunch and back to Cusco.

18:20 – Train leaves Aguas Calientes

22:20 – Back at our host families.

So What:

This trip was very different from our past two weeks here in Cusco. Aguas Calientes is supported by tourists’ income only. It does not have the ability to produce its own goods as I learned from the doctor here in Cusco. They receive the food via train and do not have agriculture as in Coya or Saylla or other regions. When you google Aguas Calientes you immediately will stump on sites that provide you with the best hotels or the 30 best things to do as a tourist in the town. As we read in class about Peruvian culture and Machu Picchu it was interesting to see the effects of tourism with our own eyes.

As for our group I can say that we became a very good team these past two weeks. Everyone was encouraging each other to make it to the top of the mountain. But not only that, we also worked very well together in the past weeks with the children. I think that the classes prior coming to Peru were very helpful to learn a bit about  each other. However, working together on the past two projects in Coya and Sallye made the difference. This trade of becoming a team with people that are from a different culture (or just your classmates that you did not know before starting this program) will help us all become successful in the working world. As you will work with lots of different people, from different cultures, and sometimes different mindsets towards one goal.

Now what:

As I am writing my final paper about pollution in Peru/Cusco I can say that there is a difference of the regions between Coya, Sallye and Aguas Calientes. During the past two weeks I saw a lot of trash laying around.

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When I arrived in Aguas Calientes I closely paid attention to this problem and if pollution is a result of tourism. What I found out was that Aguas Calientes looked pretty clean to me. From my perspective and talking to my professor and classmates, Aguas Calientes did not look like the other cities. Aguas Calientes separates their trash.

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The streets were clean at all time even though you have thousands of tourists coming to that town every day. I almost didn’t see any plastic lying around, which was great to see after the past two weeks. One reason could be that plastic bottles are not allowed at Machu Picchu Mountain. However, everyone is taking bottles with them but inside of their bags. Thus, I cannot imagine that this is the reason why this city is so clean. I am sure as a public administration graduate student that this has something to do with larger budgets that will help this town. This town is living from tourism so that they need to make sure the tourist will be enjoying their stay. If there would be plastic bottles/trash many people would react to it in a negative way. This makes only sense to me because when I spoke to officials of the municipalities in Coya and Saylla, both officials told me that they try to work on pollution by separating trash but that the funds are very limited and people would rather spend money on other necessary things the town needs. For example, in Coya a volunteer-run effort to separate the trash lasted only for two years.  Those two towns are not heavily affected by tourism and you can see that tourism has a direct relationship with pollution. I can say that Peru is a very practical experience for me as a public administration graduate student because as we learned in our graduate classes it is sometimes very tough to make this world a better and safer place. Especially in Peru where the budgets are short, it is important to prioritize to help regions and towns in need.

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Students connect with SUNY alum in Peru and explore more service-learning abroad

What? 

In our first week in Cusco, Peru, we collaborated with a community organization called AbrePuertas (in English, AbrePuertas literally translates to Open Doors). The organization is located in Coya District, which is about an hour drive from where we live in the metropolis of Cusco. During our service event at AbrePuertas, we learned that the organization was started by Ellyn, who is a SUNY Geneseo alumna. Her aim for the organization is to provide educational opportunities to children and adolescents in the Coya region as a result of the lack of opportunities available to the population.

On Wednesday, June 8, we were scheduled for our first day of service at AbrePuertas. After class ended at 11 a.m., we took about an hour and forty-five minutes to rest and grab lunch. At 1 p.m., our group separated into two vans and departed for Coya for the first time. When we arrived in Coya, we first took some time to unpack, apply sunscreen and bug spray, snap photos of the surrounding area and use the restroom at the nearby municipality building before we sat in for the orientation. For our project, Elllyn informed us that we would be split into two teams for each day that we will be working in the Coya community (June 8-10). According to her instructions, half of the group would partake in repairing a small building located fifteen minutes uphill from the AbrePuertas center, in the community of Huaynapata. Abre Puertas has been holding mobile libraries at the community, but didn’t have an indoor space from which to guide conduct those activities.

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The first team of Binghamton students was responsible for a number of tasks, which included scraping, sanding, and painting the walls. The same team was also responsible for sweeping the floor inside the building, cleaning and wiping the windows, and removing cobwebs from corners and edges around the building.

The other half of the group was instructed to partake in sports activities with schoolchildren on the soccer field located next to the house that is being repaired. The second team participated in sports such as soccer, football and volleyball. In addition to sports, the organization also provided a jump rope, a parachute, rings and cones, and books for additional activities with the schoolchildren. With organized teams in place for our first service project, we were also informed by Elllyn that we were able to switch our roles every day so that every student in our group could have the opportunity to gain the full service-learning experience.

Benjamin Edwards, one of the few MPA students on the trip, had some symptoms of altitude sickness (headache, shortness of breath and dizziness). He discussed with Professor Giovanna Montenegro, who made contact with a doctor for medical attention. She stayed with Benjamin while he caught some rest and the two eventually made it to the field of service after about 40-50 minutes. By the end of our service project with AbrePuertas, we were all fairly exhausted from the many activities that we participated in, but more importantly, we gained an invaluable experience and a clearer outlook of the underprivileged world that stands in stark contrast to communities in the United States.

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So What? 

Although we took three long and intensive Saturday classes in Binghamton to learn about Peruvian culture, literature and history prior to our departure, we realized that after working with AbrePuertas that our “American” and individual habits are constantly resurfacing in our everyday experiences. The experience of not being in a familiar environment often stands out and causes us to feel a certain way, such as discomfort or frustration, because of our lack of adjustment to Cuscqueño society. One aspect that we learned at AbrePuertas is that the need to change is inevitable if we want to truly be culturally competent and assimilated into another society. An example of an experience that we did not expect to see in Coya was children playing and laying on the ground, which is often covered with litter and feces from animals such as dogs. At the same time that the children were rolling around in dirt, they were also participating in the activities that we have planned for them, which involved human contact with us. After acknowledging that such a behavior was the norm in the area, we had to let down our guards and withdraw from our mindset that being physically “dirty” is a direct impact to our cleanliness, in which many Americans often take for granted. In that sense, we brought home an invaluable lesson from AbrePuertas that week, which was that we must first be open to change and then be able to embrace it if we wish to truly immerse and gain the richness and excitement of another culture.

Benjamin was seen by a doctor the evening of Wednesday, June 8, who recommended that he leave Cusco for the United States as a precautionary step to avoid many complications associated with altitude sickness, end product of which could be catastrophic. He left Cusco for the United States on Thursday, June 9 and arrived on Friday, June 10 at 9:30am.

Now What? (Benjamin)

Manshui and I are completing our blog post at the moment. Though I am in Johnson City, New York, we are collaborating and exchanging ideas for the blog over the internet (emails, WhatsApp, text messaging, etc). While pondering on the experience so far – from the landscape reflecting agricultural practices of small plots versus our American way of large fields of a single crop, to the labor being supplied by humans and animals rather than machines in the United States, along with poorer people forced to live and farm higher up on the mountains where the soil is less rich – I see some similarities, though in a different degree, to the racial minorities in the United States. Residential segregation and poverty have left African Americans and Latinos and other racial minorities in some of the least desirable housing in some of the lowest-resourced communities in the U.S. In addition to much higher poverty rates, African Americans and Latinos live in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty. Recent research suggests that children in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty experience more social and behavioral problems, have lower test scores, and are more likely to drop out of school.

As an MPA student preparing for a career in local/state/federal government, this experience has reignited the desire to highlight on some of these issues to provide opportunities for honest conversations. My host family mentioned robbery in certain areas in Cusco – and of course we were told time and again during our Saturdays class prior to the trip about this as well. Similar problem exists in the U.S in certain areas with low socioeconomic status. It is therefore important to understand that continually skewed distributions of wealth breed conditions that ultimately affect our entire society. Thus, society benefits from an increased focus on the foundations of socioeconomic inequities and its correlates, such as racial and ethnic discrimination. The experience has really fired-up my desire to work toward reduction of the deep gaps in socioeconomic status in the United States.

In addition, the U.S is a nation of nations, made up of people from every land, of every race and practicing every faith, including Peru. Rather than trying to assimilate the immigrants into the American culture, the current view holds the United States needs to celebrate the differences. In 2042, it is projected that racial and ethnic minorities in the United States will become a majority, and the working age population (18-24) will cross that threshold three years earlier (Bazar and Overberg, 2008). Immigrants from Latin America is the largest minority group in the United States. Here again, as a graduate student with a career interest in local, state, or federal government, this experience is a good step in preparing to handle diversity in the workforce. I am now in a better position to understand and see things from the Peruvian or South American perspective than ever before. My experience so far has made me realize how similar expressions mean different things in Peru and the U.S. This will help me to be mindful of my choice of words and manner of expressions when dealing with people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. I am better prepared now to handle workforce diversity than before. I am certain my managerial behavior will embody multicultural significance in a variety of ways and a variety of formats.

Benjamin Edwards and Manshui Lam, MPA students

 

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Research aims to improve care to prevent the mistreatment of older adults

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A professor’s research within the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) is helping to advance a better understanding about best practices to address the abuse of older persons.

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, Social Work Department chair and associate professor Victoria M. Rizzo said elder abuse and neglect takes many forms physical, financial, mental and emotional and interprofessional services have the potential to prevent future abuse.

From 2007 to 2014, Rizzo partnered with JASA, the largest social service agency for older adults in New York City, to conduct research focused on the provision of professional social work services to low-income older adults.

As a result of this work, Rizzo presented at a conference to discuss the research agenda and federal priorities for civil legal aid, serving as one of 40 international experts to discuss research on elder abuse and legal interventions. The U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice and Office for Access to Justice sponsored the workshop with the National Science Foundation.

“This is the first study of elder abuse prevention that uses multivariate analysis, or analyzes more than one variable at a time, to examine elder abuse treatment and prevention,” Rizzo said.

The study examines the effectiveness of JASA’s LEAP program, which provides legal and social services for adults age 60 and up living in the boroughs of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.

According to Rizzo’s findings, the retention rate for clients in the LEAP program (which includes the services of lawyers and social workers employed within the same agency) was 71.7 percent and the risk of further abuse to clients was reduced by 68.2 percent.

Rizzo explained that JASA’s model of care is so successful because social workers and lawyers are working together as part of the same agency.

“The model allows clients to continue to receive services, even when they choose to abandon a legal claim of elder abuse, because the social worker can continue to implement the clients’ safety plans. Should clients later choose to reinstate the legal case, the lawyer can resume work from the previous stopping point,” Rizzo said. “This is possible because the lawyer and social worker are part of the same program in the same agency.”

“Social workers are vital members of interprofessional teams that address the complex needs of elder clients,” Rizzo said. “The research suggests that receiving legal and social services can lead to more favorable outcomes for clients when they are discharged.”

Rizzo’s study also attempts to address some current research limitations by designing the data collection forms to be reliable and consistent across cases.

“For the past decade, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day has been recognized as an opportunity for the community to raise awareness about the victims of elder abuse. The model I examined in my study illustrates the importance of collaboration between lawyers and social workers to effectively assist an underserved population,” Rizzo said.

The White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable: Civil Legal Aid Research Workshop Report can be accessed from the U.S. Department of Justice web site.