Yohe Internship Final Blog

One of the biggest aspects of my college career has been change. You can call it evolution, development, growth, expanding, blossoming, etc., but one thing is for sure – I am not the same person that I was when I first started my academic career at Duquesne. For starters, I was in a completely different major than what I will get my degree in. STEM is a totally different world compared to the English Department of the Liberal Arts School, but it is through my development and changing environments and surroundings that I realized that the English department is where I truly needed to be. We are ever evolving as people, whether it be through newfound relationships, new attitudes, or new activities – and that applies to my time interning at ACH Clear Pathways as well. Going into this internship program, I planned to use my experience teaching martial arts in my youth to lay the foundation for my philosophies in helping these students in the art tract at ACH – after all, the underlying idea of extracurriculars being fundamentally essential for the development of growing minds is key to both. However, I quickly learned that I would need to adapt to the new environment based on the context of what was being taught. Teaching martial arts was rigid – it required focus, attention, discipline, and practice, but in my new environment, creativity and guidance were more important. Creativity is essential to inspiring change in oneself – not only does it force problem-solving, but it produces critical thinking as well. This was something I got to witness firsthand while assisting in the art room. The students in art were hard at work all semester to create – from the ground up – their very own Claymation project. In the process of making this movie, the students had to design their own characters and write their own dialogue, then transform those drawings into clay and translate their written dialogue into an auditory format to contribute to the film. Not only did this require change, developing one medium to the other, but this also taught a great lesson about multi-modality and genre-switching, which was something I learned within my time in the Liberal Arts School. Without even knowing it, these students were applying the knowledge that I had learned in my college courses. The concept of multimodality was not just something I had only learnt once too – this was a lesson that was emphasized in several classes with a variety of different professors. The ability to transfer knowledge from one mode to another is as essential for life as it is for creative development. So much of the world around us is reliant on this concept. Without it, there would be no television shows, movies, websites, graphic novels. The list goes on and on. The combining of ideas and aspects of literacy into a new form is a way of change in and of itself. Transforming between one context and the next is another great way to develop critical thinking as well. As with just about anything, there were going to be speed bumps on the way to completing this project. However, it is not about what happens to us in these moments that is important, it is how we adapt and change to our new environment that is. Scenes would often have to be reshot, or lines would have to be rewritten as we learned more about the scope and goals of the Claymation – sometimes things would not work out as the students would have expected. For example, in translating their characters from pictures to clay, some students would not be able to fully realize their vision into the new format. This required the situation to be approached in a new way, and ultimately challenged the students to think outside the box in terms of what would and would not be possible in transferring their knowledge from one context to the next. In one example, a student had envisioned their character to have flowing, rainbow dyed hair, but due to the constraints of using clay, this was nearly impossible to achieve. As a result, the student was able to use their creativity to problem-solve and made their character have thick, braided strands of rainbow hair, made by wrapping tubes of clay around each other. This was a way for them to achieve the original goal that they set out to do within the limitations of the new form. This is what makes what ACH Clear Pathways does so important. By giving growing students the space, time, and opportunity to think creatively, they are also giving them the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills, which is essential to change as well. Even throughout my time at ACH, I have been given the opportunity to develop as well. I mentioned before that my expectations were not what fully occurred in the semester, and while that is true, I also used the opportunity to grow and evolve my philosophies for myself. The key to change is an open mind. Without the ability to understand new needs and what is required based off those needs, adaptation is impossible, and growth becomes stagnant. In my fourth blog post, a little over halfway through the semester, I had mentioned that I had set myself new goals – the main one of which was to meet students where they were at. I wanted to see if I could inspire change in myself with a conscious effort to fully get the most out of me and the students I was helping throughout the rest of the semester. The task I set for myself was to engage the students and challenge them in ways that develop their minds for more artistic intuition and ability, while giving them the space and time to learn and think for themselves, offering limited assistance only when needed. This goal was a response to my own childhood, where I noticed that my most creative and critical moments were not when I was being guided, but when I was given the ability to think freely and conceptualize for myself. In making this a task for myself, I noticed change and evolution in the students as well. As a result, the students tended to include me in their projects and homework, asking for help if they needed the assistance or requesting me to do tasks that they were uncomfortable with, like using a hot glue gun. It truly amazed me that by reflecting on my past, and noticing what worked with my development, that I was able to emulate that behavior and change not only myself, but how the students chose to interact with me as well. ACH Clear Pathway’s commitment to extracurriculars inspires growth, and it all comes down to this: a change for the better is truly only possible with reflection, and open mind, and the willingness to develop and adapt.  


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