Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Youth Work

I knew that I wanted to make a difference in this world and it starts with the Youth. The youth truly holds the intellect and power to help create a better world. For me specifically I enjoy learning from the youth and teaching the youth new things. I like getting an idea about each individual I am working with and learn more about who makes them them (Story telling). I am an athletic persona and that is why I a focusing in engaging with the youth in a recreational type setting. From the reading I did, it talked about youth work and engagement with recreational activities can be demonstrating

"Youth work’s conventional wisdom would assert that such activities are to be valued primarily as vehicles for carrying young people on testing personal and emotional journeys. This might include developing a ‘relationship with the youth centre and the staff … For many young people the activity in itself may become increasingly significant."

Activity meaning anything, and as a youth worker it is our job, my job to make the activity significant.

"What is Youth Work?"
Hey, you're just a child, listen to me
You shouldn't speak, unless asked to speak
You have no thoughts or different ideas
You're just a youth, you're not a leader
Imagine a youth worker saying these  things
In reality, it is quite demeaning
For a human being but a youth worker alike
For youth workers and youth together unite
Youth work is revealing leaders from the youth community
Togetherness, collaboration, demonstrating no "I" in team
Life skills - fundraising, sponsorship, non-profit sector
Acting as advocates, coaches, youth protectors
Youth embellishments letting youth know they have a voice
For a job well done youth workers rejoice
We guide the youth, we don't say "do this"
We ask what are your thoughts; dig into their wits
Expressing stories, making youth smile; setting goals they can embark
Educationing with youth - this is youth work


 Open Book Open Minds was an event held at Rhode Island College. This year, the event focused on family history and stories/legends passed on within the family. I knew about it before I attended with my YDEV class because of my Creative Writing class. A few of my classmates actually shared their stories at this event. I should have as well ( I did write something since it was a class assignment.) Anyways, what I truly enjoyed about this event, was how free individuals were able to express themselves. The stories told were so beautiful.

Immediately I thought about what we learned in class about story-telling. The Tedtalk "the danger of a single story by Chimamanda Adichie really demonstrated the importance of story telling and not falling into a single story mindset. I think for these individuals telling the story, especially one that I remember very well, felt at some point in their lives, people thought a single story of them. And this was the importance of them telling their stories. This was the importance of them expressing themselves.
“The single story creates stereotypes,” Adichie says, “and the problem with stereotypes

is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete."

Open books Open Minds  was the perfect event to utilize the idea and belief that story telling is useful to any and all humans. Whether it be youth, adults or elderly, it is never too late to share a story and be expressive.

Next year, we can help choose the next open books open minds book, and soon enough a new writing assignment will be given for students to openly share with fellow faculty members and other students.

Monday, November 16, 2015


The whole concept and idea behind resilient kids was very interesting. The video about "The Focus Game" was very enjoyable. It seemed like the kids have fun playing it and as we learn in class with out different activities, their is a purpose and value to "The Focus Game". Another thing about the ResilientKids video, were the testimonials from the children, and how greatly we were shown of their impact and progress. The method of bringing peace and calmness to these children truly benefits them. The development of children is being understood and the ways to calm children in the classroom is being exposed rather than simply saying, "calm down." It is a really effective way to help the process of learning and youth development and I think it is a great tool for youth workers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The danger of a single story

One thing that I enjoyed about watching this TedTalk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is how she starts off by saying, “I am a story teller” Luckily for me I was already familiar with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. For one, Beyoncé sampled a speech by her in her song “Flawless”. Her input in that song is perfect. And secondly, in my Creative Writing class, we have actually read a couple of stories written by her. They were all amazing because of the way she conveys a story. In her writings, the same things she discusses in her TedTalk, were revealed. Like she says, she wrote about what was familiar to her. And I think because of her experiences and her ability to share stories, she freed herself from that single story life style.

When I try to connect the idea of having a single story with my life, I think about certain things growing, basically stereotypes that I have learned about. I think the one thing I can think about is like, stereotypes based on me. I think people have single story of not me, but African Americans or black people in general. Just the same, how there are stereotypes about White Americans., etc. I have mentioned before how for the most part I feel as though I didn’t get the typical response of “all black people are loud, ghetto, etc.” For me it was true that people had this mind framed, but they viewed me as the opposite of that stereotype. These people still had that single story mind set.

Honestly growing up, I wasn’t instilled with different stereotypes about people and races or different places that I can say I shaped into a single story. And as I continued to grow, I took the time to understand more about the differences in people so that I wouldn’t be prejudice or as I am learning, a single story mind set. And just like Chimamanda Ngozi says, the stories we hear aren’t necessarily false, they are just incomplete. There is always more than one story to DEFINE someone. And I like how Chimamanda explains this and reveals this with her own experiences. One thing that Chimamanda Ngozi said that stuck out to me however was this:

“All I have heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had come impossible for me see them as anything else but poor…so poverty was my single story of them”

Chimamanda Ngozi says she wishes they were revealed as “poor and hardworking”. Therefore poverty wouldn’t be the single story of them. Now that I think about this, I think, well hmm, did I hear something about someone and think well that is all that they are; that is all that makes them, them. I feel like everyone has something they heard about youth, about different places, about other people, and we use that small piece of information, and map it into its "single story". As humans I believe we unconsciously, all do this. And now we realize…we can’t do this. This is the dangers of a single story.

Below is the link to a prose poem by Chimamanda Ngozi if you want to read it! And it definitely goes along with the theme of "single stories".

My mother, the Crazy African

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Identity/ Context Map

Understanding Youth: Adolescent Development for Education
                                        4 Main Identities

Achieved Identity: An individual is highly committed to an identity identity crisis resolved.
Foreclosed Identity: An individual has committed to a certain way of being without exploring that way of being of trying different alternatives
Moratorium: An individual explores different identities but does not make a commitment too one
Diffused Identity: Little to none exploration of an identity therefore there is no commitment

Throughout this chapter we are introduced to Julian, a Haitian boy who is struggling with his identity. Mitch, the school psychologist first begins this experiment of helping Julian reach "achieved identity" by asking him to make of list of things different relationships that he deals with on a day to day basis. Then Julian has to explain what these relationships are expecting of him. Then he was asked to write his own feelings about these relationships in his life. Mitch had Julian make a context map. A context map is used to help one identify their strongest relationships in their lives. For Julian the context map was used more to help him gather who he is and what is important to him in his life.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Construction of Adolescents

After reading "The Construction of Adolescents" by Nakkula & Toshalis, I can say that I did actually learn useful, and new information. I never really thought about my life being coauthored with educators or even other people in my life. But of course that makes a lot of sense. Specifically referring to the example of Ms. Petersen and Antwon, I felt like I was once in that type of situation And now that I think about it, my teacher, Mrs. Healey, did coauthor my life story. It is because of her, that I love writing so much. And I always say that the reason I developed the love of writing is because of her teaching in 8th grade. She was my 8th grade Writing teacher, but she also taught ESL students and I feel like this is why she was able to understand her students so well. As the article ask, is it the role of teachers to just simply teach us and "go by the book" or is it their jobs to form relationships with students and teach them more than text book material? Mrs. Healey and I developed a relationship that was more useful than text book material. She was the type of teacher that did what she had to do to make students feel appreciated and understood. 100 percent do I feel as though she coauthored my life because I do not see myself as a writer, if it wasn't for her. And yes at times, she acted as a normal teacher when students would talk and give her a hard time, and she'd yell and frighten us, but at the end of the day, she was helping us shape our lives and for me, she truly did help me and I love the art of writing so much because of her. (Thank you Mrs. Healey)

But then to think, did I help coauthor her life? The article would suggest that I have. That somehow her coauthoring my life and  creating the love of writing within me, helped her own "professional growth" and "personal gratification."  The term reciprocal transformation was new to me. Basically it reveals that youth and adults help each other's development. Learning this term is definitely useful because this is what I aim for. I am to help the youth and in term they help me. It shouldn't be a rare occasion where an adult says the youth has helped them in some way. That should be an everyday thing just as youth are required to learn and get something out of life everyday; an adult can and should to through the youth. I genuinely do not know if Mrs. Healey felt a development growth because of our relationship but thinking that she did is rewarding. It is one thing to have that one adult that has helped you throughout your life, and then another to realize that you actually helped them as well.

The article then ends emphasizing the importance of a relationship between students and educators. Something that stuck out to me was that, "distancing between educators and students has less to do with the participants themselves and more to do with the logistical or social demands placed on learning relationships.." Meaning that educators and teachers should influence each other more often and open up to one another about their lives, about their needs, about their goals. This does not mean that educators are shying away from their purpose of teaching, but rather enhancing their teaching experience.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Color blind or Color Brave

"Color blind or Color Brave" a Tedtallk documentary by Mellody Hobson; an inspirational discussion about "race"
When Mellody mentioned that for a moment she felt uncomfortable talking about race during this conference, I knew the feeling. For me, I do not like to necessarily talk about race or point it out. I think there have been a couple of moments in my life where I would go to a place and feel uncomfortable because I didn't see people who "looked" like me. But that did not change the way I interacted or how I felt. I honestly can' recall a time that I have ever felt ignored or unwanted because of my race. HOWEVER, with that being said, people have noticed my race and my personalty. People have seen my color and instead compared it to the attributes of how a "black" woman in our society should act. Many people, have called me an "Oreo" or a "Black White Girl".  They would say that I'm not as aggressive and "ghetto" as most black woman are. Honestly, I did not know how to take this information. In my mind, I am just me. I act how I act. I talk how I talk. No one in one race is exactly the same; talks the same; looks the same, therefore how can I not be black?

It's so funny that I watched this Tedtalk at this time because I even had an issue today at work. My co-worker and I were discussing meats. I do not eat any. She asked me if I have ever ate fried chicken. Back when I ate meat I said yes, but it isn't that serious to me. She responded by saying, "you're not really black" and this is not the first time I have heard someone say this because I do not exhibit the criteria of a "real" black female. So people do see color. I think relating to the tweet below, people believe that if you do not see color, that is a good thing. But it's not. It is just way to avoid race. As Mellody Hobson says in her Tedtalk, "The first step to solving any problem is not to hide from it." I believe by saying you do not see color is ignoring the "problem" of race. It is like someone saying "I do not see you as black, I see you as you" Although they may mean well by this statement, at the end of the day, I am black, that is apart of who I am and that cannot be disowned.

never trust anyone who says they do not see color. this means to them, you are invisible. — is

Sunday, September 20, 2015



Based on my score on the ideology test, it seems that I identify with Risk, Resilience and Prevention as well as Critical Youth Development. I scored 13 on Risk, Resilience and Prevention and a 14 on Critical Youth Development. When it comes to youth work, I definitely want to see kids and the youth strive in a positive light. I feel like this is why I identify with the risk, resilience and prevention. I want youth to understand there are ways out of troubled situations like being in a gang or being a bully. I feel like getting more kids and youth involved in after school actives really helps this cause. Since my focus is to become a basketball coach, I will be working with kids not just in a competitive atmosphere but this is also a way to keep them focused on something positive and risk-free.

As regards to critical youth, it kind of is the same thing in the sense that it is working with the youth in important things that do affect them. For example the Ideology Horoscope mentions that under this category you work with the youth and talk about classism , and racism and more. It is important to talk about all of these different issues with the youth and this is where youth acceptance and appreciation is valued. This is where as youth development workers, we engage with the youth and value their voice and opinions and work with them on important issues. Reading the Ideology horoscope I can understand how my mindset aligns with both the risk, resilience, and prevention youth development and the critical youth development

Monday, September 14, 2015

Blog Post #2: YIA

Youth in Action is a very good program provided for the youth these days and it is something I never saw when I was younger. I was a part of clubs like the YMCA but nothing like Youth in Action; nothing that taught kids that they had a voice and their voice matters. The beautiful thing about Youth in Action is the fact that it is allowing these kids to have a voice. It is allowing these kids to have their own opinions and not be afraid to talk about their opinions. One statement made in the article by Diana Jacques really spoke to me and its when she says, “I argue with someone at YIA at least once a week- but in a good way.” This itself is extremely important and I am glad that people are realizing that their opinions matter. Although others don’t agree, that’s okay, as long as you voice your thoughts. If I did have something like YIA when I was younger, I would have found my voice more quickly. It honestly wasn’t until I was a freshman in college, when I realized that my thoughts and ideas and opinions are valuable and are important. And I think YIA is doing a great job teaching kids this. 

This is also why YIA exemplifies the model of working WITH the youth. Throughout the article and reading not only the adults testimonies but the kids involved, really showed how important it is for YIA to work with the kids. In the beginning it is stated that the kids are in charge and the adults are there to help and guide them along. All youth workers should have this same idea in mind when working with kids; that they are doing just that, working with them. It’s a beautiful thing when kids feel accepted and feel like people are there for them and helping them along in their lives. Youth in Action is just great program that truly works with its kids and helps the youth realize that they are the voice of power and what they think, and their ideas are just as important as adults thought and ideas. They are not just products of their parents but they are their own person and they are allowed to have their own thoughts and ideas. I believe this article is not only about explaining how amazing YIA really is, but also how important it is to work with these kids and encouraging and helping them find their voices in this world.

Monday, September 7, 2015

What Is Youth Work?

Youth workers are many things. They are educators. It is our goal to engage with the youth and educate the youth in several of ways. One of my favorite activities would always be ice breaker activities. This is a great way to engage members of the youth and start building the trusting relationships that are so important. And then once a trusting relationship is developed, it becomes easier to get involved in their lives and help educate them and aid them with whatever they need. And then there is social practice where youth workers deal with the youth in more of a group setting or engaging with the youth on another level that isn't just to educate them but to help and guide them. I also had an idea to become a guidance counselor because in high school, I myself had such a great one and felt like my high school guidance counselor really understood his students and knew how to deal with the youth. One time I worked for TD Summit which was a program at URI that had high school students spend the night at URI and our job was to show them what it was like to be in the TD program at URI and the importance of school. TD also known as Talent Development program is to help and encourage students that are African American or of low economic status get that extra nudge (and support) to attend college. This program was one that really helped show these high school students not only the importance of college but how important social justice is to URI. This was also a way, for us to get involved and to get the kids involved because once they make the commitment to join TD, they could be the next generation of TD Summit helpers. Another important aspect of youth work is giving the youth a sense of power with their ideas and voices. I feel like that is one thing I lacked growing up; feeling as though I had a voice. But now with the voice I have now, I want to encourage more individuals to use their voice and I want to be considered someone that is influential. Youth work is also a welfare practice and when I think of that, I think of different educational programs like D.A.R.E. In junior high school, there was also this guy that would sing rap songs about not doing drugs and different ways, to not end up in jail. He would talk to us and just try to get the youth to understand the troubles of gangs and violence and the bad stuff of the world. I feel like D.A.R.E and what he did is youth work and is a part of the welfare practice part of it. And although different problems such as drugs and violence may arise in youth, at the end of the day, youth work is working with the youth because they are the youth, they are young, and they are the next generation of people that will be leaders of this world.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Who Am I

This picture is adorable; I love turtles!

I am Danai Porter. I want to be a writer; I'm aspiring to be a coach.  My interests include but
are not limited to: writing, playing sports; listening to music, etc; this summer I worked for the majority of it at my main job Wendy's and at Slater Park Camp. It was such an enjoyable experience working at the camp and it confirmed my reasoning to have Youth Development as my major. My concentration is Health and Media because as mentioned with my degree I hope to be involved in coaching in someway and nowadays media is a huge thing so why not have a concentration in that? Oh yeah and just a little side note type thing, I am a pascatarian; no meat; seafood&veggies.
My first tattoo 

"Protect Me', the book I wrote.
Basketball over the years.