The NCR 594 Project participated in the 3rd Annual Community Engagement Symposium held at California State University Dominguez Hills on Monday March 21, 2016. It was interesting to see the other projects that people were working on and to be able to speak to them about the wonderful work they are doing. It was more interesting still to have to answer questions about and explain my own project.
There were several awards handed out with interesting stories to go along with the awards. Brenda Riddick won an Outstanding Community Advocate Award for her work as the Director of the Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political & Economic Institute. Dr. Vivian Price won a Community Hero Award for, apparently, just about everything she does. John Jones III, who is a Field Deputy for City of Los Angeles Council member Joe Buscaino and CEO/President of the East Side Bike Riders Club, won an Outstanding Community Partner Award and told a tale about how he and his club members were able to bridge many community divides while riding their bikes. You can see that story here.
There were also a few speeches. Dr. Kirti Celly spoke about the role of reflection in service learning (that is, learning through acts of community service). Dr. Sam Wiley explained his project that collects shoes for the needy as a way to alleviate poverty. The Keynote speech was given by Dr Vivian Price (see above) and Professor Ellie Zenhari whose project was to take students to explore Watts and document what they found via photography. This led to the introduction of Mr. Tim Watkins, president and CEO of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, and Ms Monika Shankar of Physicians for Social Responsibility. The stories they told about the problems in Watts were absolutely heartbreaking. However, those same stories led me to believe that the NCR 594 Project can be effective in its mission.
It was a very enlightening experience. I want to the Ms. Cheryl McKnight, director of CSUDH’s Center for Service Learning, Internships, and Civic Engagement (SLICE), for putting on this event and allowing the NCR 594 Project to participate. Meeting people and talking about their projects gave me confidence in my own project. Having to explain my own project got me that much closer to being able to make a case as to why it should exist at all. The NCR 594 Project has now announced its presence to the world and is moving forward in earnest. Stay tuned for details.