March 23rd 2009
Serving a community often considered the most poverty-stricken city within the United States opened my eyes not only to the daily struggles faced by residents of Camden but also to the social injustice created as a byproduct of politics. Breathing the putrid air at a playground near the sewage facility, which was considered "acceptable" on that particular day, was only a tiny glimpse into the environment forged upon people living in the vicinity.
The definition of poverty for me has been redefined to include socioeconomic disadvantages that prevent a particular group from having a voice in the placement and development of undesirable facilities, such as wastewater systems and prisons. The fact that many kids did not show up on that day of the Olympics was a testament to the repulsive stench there.
In addition, interacting with kids K-8, StreetLeaders, and interns at an UrbanPromise after-school program was perhaps the most rewarding and valuable experience from the trip. I had the opportunity to see what Camden was like through their eyes,and, from these exchanges, learn more about community dynamics as well as myself as an individual. The week we helped out in Camden was well-spent and inspires me to pursue engaging in activities with UrbanPromise in the future.
-Tracy, Bowdoin College