My All-Star experience has been a little different than I thought it would be which I think (overall) has been for the betterment of myself. See, I live alone, prefer to do homework alone, and even go to the movies alone. My spontaneous Friday night enjoyment consists of working on new opportunities for work or professional development on the weekend instead of my usual Netflix and chill on my lazy boy while eating Panda Express. Needless to say, living with over ten people in one household has caused me to highly change my habits, as well as force me into hanging out with people on a regular basis like my friend, mentor, and colleague, "M", and my sister, "B", tell me on a regular basis to do.
I think the requirement to constantly be around people who were also in similar situations has allowed me to be brought back down to Earth at a much faster rate than normal, bestowed the opportunity to learn that apparently I'm like the only person in the world who likes to use disinfectant after changing out the trash, and that I'm not the only person who has a fairly lax personality, but also very strict on how things have their places in the home.
I've learned that living with people is actually not too bad, being understanding, rather than being "right" is needed much more for roommates, and there are systems for any household situation to alleviate tension and still maintain respect for space and privacy.
I will say that I did believe that Fosterclub was best described as, "a 'Hollywood' for foster youth advocates", but feel as though there is a bit of misconception in relation to what we actually do for advocacy as former youth in care. Currently, most of what we have done consists of training, peer-mentorship, and learning to present things a certain way, with a base of public speaking development that is focused on teacher-centered learning, rather than student-/youth-centered learning.
Unfortunately, I only feel like I am being used to my fullest potential when I work under my embed staff member which is only for a few hours a week, and the hardest part has been needing to stay up til 11:00 p.m. at night to find out what time I'm supposed to just wake up the next day.
I think this organization has many opportunities to do great work, and I appreciate my being chosen out of over 200 people, but currently I have felt like my purpose is more about being a marketing tool and not becoming a more professionally- and personally-developed youth advocate with which to do more. I ask myself every time I clock out if I have learned anything that will change "the system", rather than a kids life.
To be frank, I do not feel like I have learned anything that can help me better society's standards on sticking a band-aid on issues, and my experience thus far has not yet enabled me to prevent another kid from having to go into the system, whether that be how to speak to various sponsors, employers, teachers, or even senators, let alone learn how policy of agencies and stakeholders can affect a system more than the funding these very stakeholders receive which is much more important than learning how to teach a youth about boundaries.
This is not to say that this is not the phenomenal program that I feel it is. However, what I am saying is that I and others would be better suited to do more than workshops for seven weeks. My current bosses, and even friends, were once All-Stars, but I am currently wondering how this internship did anything more for them than provide networking and better speaking skills.
I await to see what other opportunities this internship does hold, and will remain optimistic. I have created friendships, and learned more than I have thought I would in such a short amount of time, and will continue to look to the future. These All-Stars are a set of people who have a heart and passion for change, and I cannot wait to see where they go and what they do. Although I admit to being disappointed, I also am envious of those before me who were here for three months in the earlier parts of this programs culmination being that I have already had the opportunity to literally sit down and talk with a youth, not about chasing her dreams, but how to make the opportunities for her dreams to become a reality for literally hours which is a memory I will always hold dear.
I feel as though my favorite part of this entire internship is that even though we all know we are here because of our unfortunate background, we were not selected because of a "good story" which is a commonality among my and others' states. The best part about this concept is that we are seen as kids who were in foster care, and not foster kids which is a mindset that I was told by a youth at Oklahoma's past teen conference, and have been able to see the fruition of such a thinking to come to pass. It is a surreal feeling, and a beautiful thing to see for any former or current foster who has felt the same.