Tag Archives: goals

A New Dimension of Service: Public Allies & Queens Museum of Art

30 May

Check out the following blog post I wrote for the Queens Muse Blog as an explanation of the partnership between my PO and Public Allies…Trust me, it’s worth it to scroll down.

 is the School Programs Assistant at the Queens Museum of Art. For more from Pema follow her on Twitter @pemadb or check out her blog posts for Public Allies.

Public Allies at the Queens Museum of Art discussing their art inspired by a walk through Corona

Q: What do a charter school, a tenant’s right association, an LGBT center and the US Fund for UNICEF all have in common with the Queens Museum of Art?

A: They are all partner organizations for Public Allies New York.

Public Allies New York (PANY) is a leadership development program that places young people at non-profits with socially driven missions throughout the city. For those Queens Muse blog readers familiar with the organizations mentioned or AmeriCorps (of which Public Allies New York is a branch), it may come as a surprise that a museum qualifies as a partner. But when you think about the way that QMA is a unique public space that offers community based programming and exhibitions for those who might not have access otherwise, then it begins to make perfect sense.

QMA Family and After School Programs Assistant Harley Jones and I are both 2nd year Allies placed here for our 10 month fellowship in the Education Department.  By design, Public Allies has all of the Fellows juggling two different hats at all times: dealing with the full time placement aspect of working in the Education Department supporting school, family, and after-school programs, as well the other components of the “PANY-verse” that we are required to complete. That means training sessions, retreats, a specialization track, Three Ways, 360s, PMs, PISDs, TSPs and other acronyms and lingo that we Allies speak fluently. For example, a project that came to fruition from partnering with Public Allies is our Team Service ProjectObjects with a Story, a Teen art exhibit we are having in partnership with the Queens Library. Check out our work in action at the opening of Objects with a Story at the Queens Library at Flushing on May 5th from 4 —6 pm.

Another point of intersection was last week’s visit by 15 Public Allies in the Program Design specialization track, who came as a part of their weekly training to learn more about Curriculum Design from our Manager of School Programs, Lindsay Smilow. QMA Executive Director Tom Finkelpearl also spoke with the Allies, looking to them as the next wave of community leadershe mentioned the way arts organizations can benefit from learning about the way service organizations help communities. Successful examples of such learning at QMA exist in both Shaun El C. Leonardo’s Heart of Corona Initiative site-specific artwork, and artist Tania Burguera’s  Immigrant Movement International.

Public Allies encompasses a national umbrella of organizations that upon first glance may seem far removed from the art world. By becoming an 2011-2012 partner, the Queens Museum of Art established a new dimension of service for a new class of Allies.

Harley and I on Psychedelic Thursday – inspired by Queens International 2012: Three Points Make a Triangle

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Who Said ‘Glee’ Moments Don’t Happen in Real Life?

11 Apr

One of my favorite aspects of Public Allies is the fact that you meet so many incredible people through the program that you might not get the chance to meet otherwise.  Fellow Allies in the Twin Cities program incredibly musical!

At training a few weeks ago, our afternoon session consisted of taking a “community walk.”  Groups of Allies walked around North Minneapolis to really take the time to pay attention to what we could see, hear, taste, feel, and smell around the neighborhood where we all come for training.  The result?  A very “Glee” moment.  Take a look!

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

Mid-Year Retreat

27 Feb

Public Allies Connecticut spent February 16th and 17th at the Wisdom House in Litchfield, Connecticut for our Mid-Year Retreat! The theme of our retreat was Relaxation, Reconnection, and Reflection.

Public Allies Connecticut is divided into three teams centered in the cities of Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford. First-year Allies work most closely with other first-year Allies in their city’s team. All first-year Allies attend Continuous Learning Fridays 3 or 4 times a month, but second-year Allies participate in separate Continuous Learning days once a month. So, while we are one big happy Ally family, there are members of our program that we see much less frequently than others. The retreat brought us all together again and allowed time for reconnection between our first-year Allies, second-year Allies, Program Managers, and Program Director!

Part way through the first day, some low clouds rolled in and gave us some light snow. Our Scavenger Hunt team posed for this photo around a Peace Pole at the Wisdom House… so peaceful and relaxed (and a tad cold)!

Our Hartford Team decided to do a skit that reenacted some of the funnier moments of our term thus far. Reflecting on those moments produced the laughs seen below.

Thanks to the Public Allies Connecticut Staff for a great retreat!

Philip Drew – Hartford, CT

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?

Balance: The glue of life (part 1)

4 Jan

“Well time makes you bolder
even children get older
and I’m getting older too.”
~“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

The more I go through life, I come to a deeper understanding of my desire to find balance in the everyday: that perfect mix of work, family, personal time, fun, and creativity/spontaneity. I have decided to really contemplate this over the course of my Public Allies experience. What exactly is my ideal balance in life? How do I make it a reality in my daily life?

HeavenlyFinding the light.

The Nitty/Gritty AKA Breakdown

I have done some personal calculations and realized that out of the 168 hours available weekly, I spend anywhere from 45-57.5 hours in the world of Public Allies, 35-40 hours a week sleeping, and 70.5-88 hours for my personal life. The Public Allies experience can be both rewarding and challenging. I really enjoy everything that I put myself into in the Public Allies world but there are some days that run from 8 in the morning until 10 at night when I have to go from placement to an evening meeting for my Team Service Project. It is really like having both a full- (time spent at placement) and part-time job (time spent with training and the TSP).

For a while, I was working at the Shedd Aquarium on Sundays. I recently chose to stop working a second job because I knew my commitments for Public Allies were going to increase with the January 16 kickoff for the Chicago Team Service Projects. It was really great working there. The staff was a lot of fun, guests were very diverse, and it was great getting to see live animals every shift. I may end up working there after I graduate from Public Allies. Here are some pictures I took during my time working there:

seahorse tree from a wider angle“A Seahorse Tree”

sting rays

“Sting Rays”

startled fish
“Surprised Fish”

upside down jelly
“Upside Down Jellyfish”

Another reason why my experience as an Ally can be challenging is because I have this strong desire to want to give equal focus to Public Allies and my personal commitments. I happen to be an Ally who is married. During some weeks when I get really busy, it can be difficult to give equal time/attention to my husband. Not only that, I also have family who live in the area that I want to spend time with. Though my husband and family are mostly understanding about what my Public Allies experience entails, there are some times when I am unable to provide the full support I would like to. This is something I am actively working on throughout my Ally experience.

(To be Continued in Part 2. Advice and Insights)

Food for Thought: What type of balance do you prefer in your life and how do you find it?

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.