For the week of April 24-28th, I wrote post each day in celebration of The National Afterschool Assoication's Afterschool Professional Appreciation Week. Here are three of the folks I featured, all in one place!
Stumbling into Youth Work
Meet Nick Ospa!
He currently works at Youth United for Change and we met again recently when I had the chance to interview him for a project I am working on about Career Ladders and workforce issues in OST. He's been doing this work for a decade! Read on about what called Nick to this work:
"I kind of stumbled into it. I got my undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies and I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it but I wanted to stay engaged in work related to the humanities, culture, history, or politics. I ended up at a museum Education Department teaching students about social movements and social change. I realized there are ways to impact the development of people and youth beyond becoming a classroom teacher. I really enjoyed building my own niche to engage students on subjects that I was very passionate about and also felt are extremely valuable but often overlooked in traditional education spaces. It was there I developed the passion for and saw the value in youth development." Something fun to learn about Nick is that he is a big fan of 90's hip-hop and R&B!
What's it like to meet Ms. Maya Angelou?
Well, our next after school professional can tell you all about it!
Meet Chiwishi Joy Abney, of Five Loaves & Two Fish Unlimited-HERO Inc. Aka HERO. She's veteran in the field having worked in youth development for 15 year. When I asked her about what called her to this work, she said in this order: 1. God. It is my life's work. I was born for it. 2. The extremely horrendous condition of poverty, education , spiritual center and family structure in Philadelphia and the nation. 3. The young people I am assigned to. 4. The constant reminders that WE have the power to BE the change as change agents in the world! One fun fact about you may not know about her is that she met Maya Angelou as a student at Pitt in 1993. The Africana Studies Department, invited her to speak and a few extremely blessed students got a chance to meet her at the VIP reception. She waited in line, on pins and needles; as Ms. Angelou was her Icon, favorite poet and "Auntie" in her head since she fell in love with books at 12. Ms. Angelou looked at my features and then into my eyes and told me, "your people are from Kenya." She and her friends took pictures with Ms. Angelou afterward. That moment with Maya Angelou, expressing her region of origin, changed her trajectory. She was never the same after that.
Meet the Best of the Best!
Today, I'm delighted to celebrate Youth Development Professional, Mike O'Bryan of The Village of Arts & Humanities. I had the opportunity to meet Mike about a year ago when we both served on a panel discussion. I had heard a lot about him and was excited for the opportunity to finally meet him. Everything you hear about Mike is true. He is smart beyond measure, caring, compassionate, thoughtful, strategic, and curious. He's got a great sense of humor and able to laugh easily. Mike's at The Village of Arts & Humanities as their Program Manager of Youth Arts Education. You'll also find him all over the City schooling people about Trauma Informed Practices. Mike said this about his call to youth work: "My call to youth work stems from my desire to share the joyful, healing, and growth centered experience of the arts with as many young people on the planet as possible. I also found that it was an effective way to bring disparate communities and ages together as well, equipping them with new methods and modes of connection, reflection and inquiry." One fun fact about you someone you work with (participant, peer, etc.?) may not know about Mike: His favorite movie as a kid was "Drop Dead Fred".