Rachel Hockenberry, horn player and member of the 4th class of the Sistema Fellows, is immersing herself in YOURS this week and is guest blogging, sharing her experiences below:
Today was a full day of business here in the Oppenheimer mobile office (an apartment, other people's offices, a restaurant and a car). I began and ended the day with research on crime and violence in Chicago, focusing on district 17, where Hibbard is located. I came across some interesting information via the Chicago Police Department website including juvenile arrest trends and the 2011 murder report. These stats are pretty daunting, making it clear that Chicago can be a dangerous place to live.
This leads to one of my favorite things about sistema work and sistema people. Most sane individuals would look at the neighborhoods with the highest violence rates and say, "I need to stay away from there". This makes perfect sense as it seems silly to knowingly place oneself in danger. However, el sistema enthusiasts work on a different plane of sanity. When Albert and I were looking over these stats, we were saying "that's where YOURS needs to be". We're going to reduce violence through music education. It's going to work. The YOURS and People's Music School team are going to make it happen.
Maybe doing this work requires a little bit of insanity. I'm okay with that.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned today is the necessity for resilience. Most of the meetings today centered around YOURS' second location in Logan Square. Due to many different circumstances, this program is now in a state of flux and changing locations. Because of this, there hasn't been any programming all week while YOURS has been relocating (thought it's important to note that there will be a three-hour session for the kids on Saturday). Logan Square program director Tom Madeja, Albert, and I met with the administrators at two potential new homes for this program. Both meetings were incredibly promising. For me, the best part of this was seeing the affect these meetings had on Tom. This whole week, Tom has been chomping at the bit to get his program started again. This has been an incredibly frustrating time for him. Seeing him communicate with these potential partners made his dedication to the program and to the kids palpable. He was willing to take on whatever responsibilities necessary to get the program back to its desired intensity level, therefore creating the greatest impact on the kids' lives. Sure enough, a temporary (if not permanent) solution was found, and the program will be back to its old self very, very soon. Witnessing Tom's commitment to the kids of Logan Square shows what an amazing program director he is. The Logan Square program will continue to thrive because Tom is awesome. It’s really as simple as that.
I can’t believe tomorrow is my last day here! My trip has unexpectedly been cut a little short, so I will miss out on Friday’s adventures, but I have learned so much in my short time here and am so grateful for this opportunity!