Tag Archives: future

Objects With A Story: PANY 2nd Years Team Service Project

9 Apr

Fellow Public Ally Harley Jones at the Queens Museum of Art wrote a fabulous blog post on our TSP project, and I really could not have said it better myself. Check out the below to read her words on the exciting art exhibit we have brewing in May. And stay tuned to see the final products.

Queens Teens Create Objects with a Story

Harley Jones is a Public Allies 2012 fellow at the Queens Museum of Art, working as a School Program Educator as well as a Family & After School Programs Assistant.

Every Wednesday that school is in session, our Queens Teens travel from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria to the Queens Museum of Art. Around 4 pm they materialize, with backpacks, cups of ramen and massive donuts from a bakery in Forest Hills I’ve never heard of. An incredibly reflective and (too) smart (for their own good) paid corps of high school students, they work alongside Tim Miller, Manager of Family and After School Programs, and me, Family and After School Programs Assistant, engaging families with QMA’s permanent and rotating exhibitions in the museum’s galleries and art studios.

But for the next two months, their focus is primarily their own art. Each Teen will create a series of two and three dimensional mixed media works for a month-long May display at the Flushing Library. The inspiration for their pieces: a Queens community member whose story intrigues, influences, and inspires them. School Programs Assistant Pema Domingo-Barker joins us for the project, entitled Objects with a Story, as photographer and my team co-captain.

Below you’ll find an interview excerpt by Queens Teen Yocelyn Zare of community member Errol Quest. This Wednesday, we asked the Teens to identify the interview answers they found most compelling. From there, each Teen created a big, bold, preliminary project sketch; they mapped out their first concept, a literal and metaphorical rendering of one interview characteristic on either side.

Yocelyn’s first concept sketch. She literally illustrates Mr. Quest’s unrealized life experience on the left, and figuratively interprets his actual personality on the right.

YZ: Why did you want to become a teacher?

EQ: My mom. I was inspired by my mom, who was a teacher, and my grandmother was a teacher, and my aunt was a teacher, and a couple cousins. I think I was destined to be a teacher because I grew up among teachers, and I loved what they did, and I loved working with kids.

YZ: How did you want to influence kids with science, your subject?

EQ: Science is everywhere. Science is a part of our lives. And in other countries, they stress science more than in this country. I’m trying to encourage students to study. I’m trying to be a role model from the African American community, to show kids from my community that they can strive to become anything. If you look at the stereotypical scientist, it’s not me. It’s the old guy with the white beard and the white lab coat. I’m just trying to influence students to achieve.

Quinn Hu

Peter Keehn

Selena Matos

Miriam Jovanovic

Megan Basaldua

Aubrey Miller

Ian Tousius


Part I: Camp Lake Placid, we hold you in our hearts…

29 Feb

“I see your true colors shining through…so don’t be afraid to let them show”
Cyndi Lauper, “True Colors”

PA mid-year retreat

This year for the mid-year retreat, P.A. Chicago met up with P.A. Cincinnati and P.A. Indianapolis at Camp Lake Placid in Indiana. From February 1st-3rd we focused on journey to self (whole, creative, and physical) and journey of self to community. Here is a snippet of what Wednesday and the first half of Thursday looked like:


One of the most enjoyable activities on Wednesday was the Cultural Share aka open mic. PA Chicago second year Posey did a great job as MC. Acts also varied widely from singing to spoken word to piano playing to written poetry. I decided to get up and sing “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees. It was a real crowd pleaser as everyone in the room sang with me. Unfortunately, I do not have a video of this experience but you can see video of one performance here. I have also included some audio recordings of myself below you can listen to.


The second day of retreat consisted of four workshop sessions you could go to with 16 workshop choices. I decided to have a theme of relaxation and creativity for the workshops I went to.

Workshop I: Vision Boards

In this workshop, we looked at who we wanted to become and where we wanted to go in life. Example question: What does your ideal self look like? It was a great time with paint, scissors, and lots of magazines. Here is my finished board:

Vision Board

Workshop II: Exquisite Corpse

For those who have never played, Exquisite Corpse can either be done using writing and/or drawing. We did the writing only version. It starts with you writing two sentences and then folding the paper over so only the last word can be seen then the next person writes two sentences based on that word. Here are how our stories came out:

Story 1

Story 2

Story 3

Story 4

Food for thought: What do you do to rejuvenate yourself? and/or What is your (not-so) hidden talent?

Retreat from the City

10 Feb

Allies at Camp Greenkil

L to R: 2nd years Harley Jones, me, and Juliann DiNicola, 1st years Chui-Hung Wong and Kate Shaffer at Camp Greenkill. Photo Credit: 2nd year Ally Cea Weaver.

A chance to escape the bustle of New York City is always welcome and that’s exactly what we got to do when 54 Allies journeyed up to Lake Hugenot, New York for our Mid Year retreat this past weekend. Connecting with nature is always my favorite part of these trips since this was my third (yes third!) retreat with PANY. As a second year I thought it might be repetitive, but getting to walk around the frozen lake on a partner walk with everyone in that photo was actually a great time to relax and enjoy the company of fellow Allies.

The trip was also a big reminder that I’m a second year Ally and the experience is completely different. The second years were able to facilitate an Ally-Led Station – workshops where we get to share our interests – examples being Salsa classes, portrait photography tips (which I helped Kate above in blue to do), art making, and yoga.

Teaching photography

Teaching Photo 2

Teaching photography tricks with Kate. Photo Credit: Max Chang, PANY Program Manager.

We as 2nd years decided to create a workshop in self care and de-stressing, which turned into a big sister session for the first year Allies in answering their questions on how we were able to juggle our work at Partner Organizations, our work with Public Allies including trainings and Team Service Projects, and oh yes let’s not forget our personal lives.The main thread that I took away from that session was that if you want something to change at work, or if you are overwhelmed, be proactive about it! Yes your Program Managers are there to aide you on your journey but you have to help them help you in your anxieties and try and help find solutions. It makes sense but we forget this sometimes. And if all else fails, just host an awesome spelling bee like all of us in Cabin #4 did (below)!

Photo Credit: Janine Mascari, Public Allies 2011-2012.

I would love to know for anybody juggling many things at once: How do you manage to de-stress and take care of yourself?

From Global Nomad to Public Ally

23 Nov

I have always thought of my brain as 1/3 art, 1/3 travel, and 1/3 everything else. I grew up as a “Global Nomad” as I followed my parents wherever they were stationed for their United Nations jobs. I was born in Nepal to a Filipina mother and an English father, and went on to spend most of my youth in Zambia and Thailand.

The constant change of environment and exposure to so many different faces, landscapes, airports, foods, customs, skies, architecture, oceans, streets, gave me an incredibly strong will to express myself through visual art. I painted. I sculpted. I doodled. I designed. I did whatever I could to help myself understand what I saw.

The other effect of my international exposure was the yearning to solve what I saw as the same types of social and environmental problems I experienced in different countries. I wondered how I could use art as a way to foster solutions to the infinite injustices we face daily. It brought me to decide to study interdisciplinary visual arts and international studies at the University of Washington in Seattle (a place where I experienced huge culture shock and was also an inspiration to bring me where I am today).

Always on a journey somewhere!

Always on a journey somewhere!

After university in Seattle, then London for grad school, I went back to Asia for a year where I spent my time volunteering. After globetrotting for so long I decided I wanted to settle down in a place that would have everything I love about the places close to my heart, but where I could pursue my love for art as well: New York. I decided to go solely into art and after working for a while in the for-profit world, I became more and more jaded and thought that New Yorkers could only treat creativity as a commodity. I was settled in a comfortable job that let me expand my design skills but wasn’t fulfilling my need to be a contributing member of society. I was actively pursuing ways to switch my professional trajectory but really didn’t know how, and it was at that point where I found Public Allies.

It was an opportunity for me to get a support network to find the bearings I needed when I thought I was lost: Combining creativity and common good. I spent my first year at the Parent-Child Home Program, doing communications and outreach work, and now find myself pursuing a second year at the Queens Museum of Art in the education department. I feel lucky to have found an ideal situation where I provide support to an incredible museum that is very close to their community, and wouldn’t have found it without Public Allies.

The road after Public Allies

22 Nov

“You hold the key to love and fear all in your trembling hand.”
Youngbloods “Get Together”

Public Allies Chicago recently had a life coach named Carina Vallejo from Lululemon discuss goal planning with first-year Allies. During Carina’s presentation, she had us evaluate our values as well as our goals for the next five years. I couldn’t help but think about my lack of vision for my post-Allies life. My upcoming journey seemed clouded with uncertainty and excitement for the unknown.

Lululemon Poster <-Lululemon Poster

Before starting Public Allies, I found myself at a crossroads. For the last ten years, a huge goal of mine has been to become a counselor. In 2009, I completed my masters degree in counseling. It was a huge accomplishment for me which was quickly overshadowed by other factors. Sadly, much like the arts within education, the first programs cut by states are social service programs. When you add a poor economy and a competitive job market into the mix, it can dishearten even the most passionate of individuals.

At the urging of my program manager, I began to re-consider future options. If not counseling, then what? This was a tough question for me to answer. After some deep reflection and a few great Friday trainings around goals, values and beliefs, and emotional awareness, I have come to a realization.

I do not have to give up my passion for helping others. Instead, I have begun thinking about becoming a Life Coach. There is much for me to understand about what being a Life Coach means and what it takes to become one. My first step is to reach out to Carina Vallejo to hear about her journey. Over the next seven months, I also plan to reach out to other Life Coaches for their feedback and advice as well as to find online resources, books, and workshops which are relevant to the field.

Roots of CompassionSo far, the Public Allies Chicago staff has been incredibly supportive of my ideas and interests. I know in my heart that they will provide positive support and honest feedback as I continue to fine tune my future plans. Even though the program is only three months in, I have already felt inner growth and had some interesting realizations about myself. This is not just due to the staff but also due to the other participants in the program. The best way to describe this year’s class of Public Allies Chicago is two handfuls of love/support, a sprinkling of determination/commitment, a helping of integrity/honesty, a wealth of insight, and a dash of humor. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with.