Starting With an Open Heart

For most of the time this week, I have been working on GIV Day in the CPS office. With the help of Gretchen and Kim, I started my work rather smoothly. Throughout this week, I realized that preparing for GIV Day is really about communication. Communicate with different groups of people from their perspectives, and also understand their roles in the big picture. As beautiful and neat as everything will hopefully be on that day, behind the stage are the efforts and cooperation of these individuals, even though they are different in so many ways, even though they may have never met one another before. We should really believe in the strength of people. And as a leader, I should be the person who sees a vision and has a strong faith. That means even at the worst situation when nobody believes, I should still believe, and help excavate the potential and strength that lies in people when they work with one another for a goal.

However, the faith for belief for other parts of my work did not come as strong as GIV Day at first.

On Wednesday afternoon I went to the farmer’s market to learn about SNAP, the supplemental nutrition assistance program. Seeing only a few tents of food venders and some awkward strange tokens, listening to a lady explaining the simple procedures of money transaction and closing up, I did not really understand what this was all about. All of this did not make any sense with my assumptions about what a farmer’s market is and should be. I grew more hesistation and resistance silently and started to question the meaning of my work. When I do things, I want to put all my heart to it. And when I don’t see how what I am doing is contributing to something bigger that I value, I can not go all the way to devote to it.

I thought maybe I was suppoed to do something “more important”. I thought maybe I needed more time to get to know the situation better before making any serious conlusions.

And later on, I realized that my random emotions and thoughts, like so many times before, came largely from a lack of knowledge.

When our Heston group and our mentors got together this morning for breakfast together, we watched a Wage Gap Video about the paradox that once low-income families earn more, they lose important benefits like food stamps, leading themselves to a even worse situation, which has been the very reality of  experiencing poverty in Gettysburg and around the country. My previous doubts, such as they may not be working hard enough, gradually evaporated as I realized it was more of an external barrier from politics. With largely reduced money to spend, food choices become even more crucial, and that is why there are so many programs addressing food insecurity like the Gettysburg College Campus Kitchen. And SNAP is a no less important than local food policy from the Adams County Council to help both the farmers and low income families, in a context where at a national level, no significant progressive programs are established.

Well…..

I am not dealing with one after another awkward token, that is the symbol of trust and effort.

As small and simple as everything seems in the market, I see the strength in people that I believe in, that I ask myself to believe in.

Education, again, lightens my world. And I avoided having only a single story of poverty and low income familes, which previouly only existed under the framework from my childhood experiences with my grandparents and parents’ siblings in a very poor village town in China. At a different time and space, the reality is a different set of stories. It reminded me again that I must have have an open heart, from the very beginning, so that the world is not just flat, balck and white but has multiple and colorful dimensions to me; and that, I think, is the meanig of the Heston Internship for me: education through experience, and thus hopefully I will find life and the world richer than I used to see.

Bowen Yang ’16
Gettysburg, PA

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