There was an incessant tapping of my pen knocking against the desk. My supervisor had just informed me that the summer program I would be coordinating had no budget. My optimistic side felt relief instantaneously thinking there would be a bountiful budge with no limitations.
As it was the case, what she had actually meant was that a budget literally did not exist because of a lack of funds. The meticulous schedule I had planned out a week ago would no longer have a place in this program. Say goodbye to Six Flag adventure rides, rock climbing in Chelsea Piers, or tech classes. I would have to get a lot craftier if the summer program would actually be a success.
But even with all of the research and phone calls of finding other non-profits to help with classes and programming or and even with all of the promoting of the summer program, we received 32 applications. And from the 32 applications only twelve confirmed their attendance. And from the twelve who confirmed only six came to the first day.
Did I feel horrible? Slightly. But did I think this would be a reflection of the summer program? No. Whether the program would increase in size or not, my goal was to create a safe environment where students could imagine a future where they followed their passion – be it photography or dentistry. All of my campers were documented and undocumented immigrants from South and Central America with varying levels of proficiency in their second language, English.
The campers would stand in awe of the enormous paintings of Kehinde Wiley(The World Stage: Israel), marveling at the bright colors and wondering about the multicultural presence that were being represented. Were the experiences of Ethiopian Jews caught in Wiley’s paintings that different from their own? Migrating from their birthplaces to an unknown land, creating a new culture and a new identity their multifaceted perspectives were continuously developing.