One day while sitting in his office, my adviser John Walker notified me of a volunteer opportunity. A man named Dick Folse was looking for volunteers to help teach underprivileged youths the Adobe Creative Suit and iLife software at the Western Avenue Community Center. This had recently been realized by a $100,000 State Farm grant offered to the community centers surrounding Bloomington-Normal. At first this was just a twice a week study session, sitting on the computer with any youth that was in the lab.
My time spent volunteering opened up some more opportunities. Dick Folse had offered my a job as a teacher for a digital arts summer camp through Blank Canvas. I jumped on the opportunity immediately. I helped teach a classroom of over 20 youths and got to know first hand how hard it is to control a room filled with kids.
After this experience, I was informed by Dick about a course he was teaching during the Fall 2010 semester, ATK 380 Art and Community Development. This would be a hands on teaching experience with a small group of college students, much like that of the summer camp, but on a smaller scale. We learned about the power of social capital, how to develop lesson plans, and how to teach.
Too often are professionals and students dumped into a community they know little about and rarely have an opportunity to reveal its true character or make a difference. This course and the temporary job I acquired over the summer has allowed me to do just that. I feel more comfortable in Bloomington-Normal than I do in my own hometown, and I am perfectly fine with that realization.
Click here to download my paper summarizing this experience.
Click here to view the (somewhat broken) Google doc version.
Below are some sketches and final products of work produced by my youths…