This third co-op was a combination of website work, preparation for my 4th Spanish co-op, and a lot of reflection on my part. For starters, I had two separate jobs.
One was as an intern with the Black Mental Health Alliance (BMHA) in Baltimore. The BMHA, headed by Jan Desper-Peters, is an organization in pursuit of a more complete understanding of the factors causing detriment to the mental health our African American Communities. Luckily this Co-op I was placed in a class that focused on reflection focused around the concept of place called Sound, Sight, and Phenomenology of Place. Doing work both on and off site for the BMHA, I was able to travel a lot through the city, but the absolute disparity between the wealthiest districts and the poorest are crystal clear. Just a block or two in one direction and you feel as though you have entered an entirely different region. Unfortunately, it is pretty easy to tell these disparities lie across racial lines as well. It reminded me a bit of New York City, but the community in Baltimore understands the position of oppression they have been put into. Fortunately, the work I have done has made it easier for people to find the mental/emotional support that is often stigmatized within black communities.
My second job in DC was more of the same as far as work load, but ZaneNetworks was a bit more corporate. A small business that bridges the gap between healthcare providers and their recipients, ZaneNet is a telemedicine consulting company. The advancements in technology that let us diagnose and be diagnosed by way of internet connection and audio visual technology is nothing short of incredible. With this being my first time in the public health arena and the office world, I had to adjust to it a bit more than I have had to do for my previous jobs. I did research for different states telemedicine plans, created the Winter Employee Newsletter, and got to work alongside a wonderful host of people in an office shared by the DC Chamber of Commerce.
I would describe place as yourself and your perceived reality. There is an importance to the inner world and its impact on your outer environment. Some of my time this quarter has been reflecting on the world around me, and I could only really perceive the world once the mental block of stress and deadlines and family problems and everything else that 2017 has thrown at me faded a bit. The internal environment mirrors the external in ways that we still do not fully comprehend. A book called “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” gave me some understanding of the impact our presence has on place, as well as everything else in our lives.
Balancing everything was a bit difficult, but I was able to work off-site for BMHA so I did not have to make the trek out to Baltimore every single week. Part of what got me through a bit of a difficult quarter in my personal life was to work on myself through introspection, meditation, and keeping in contact with a lot of old friends of mine. Luckily enough I was home for Co-op so I got to see plenty of family members through the quarter and on the Holidays.
Photo Credit: Black Mental Health Alliance – http://www.mha.swdesignclient.com/