Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reflections on DCPNI Retreat: Tierra Evans

This past Saturday, I got the opportunity to attend a community retreat through the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative, or DCPNI, which won one of the $500,000 grants from the federal government to launch the promise neighborhood in the District of Columbia. Residents from the targeted area were given the chance to participate in the planning stages of the process and  discuss the things that they feel deserve attention in the schools, homes, and communities where they live. I can absolutely say that I left with a new sense of hope, commitment, and knowledge about the true purpose and meaning of education. During the discussion sessions, words like "family", "community", "unity", and "responsibility" resonated in the air from students, parents, seniors citizens, and various community leaders. One could sense the urgency, the gratefulness, and the  determination in the air. They taught me that education is not just going to school, getting good grades, and going to college. Yes, it has these kind of manifest functions but it also signifies awareness. Awareness of what is going on around you and the recognition that what you do should benefit yourself as well as others. When I think about the major lesson that I learned, I'm reminded of a quote from Cornel West which says,"You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people." To me, that means taking the "I" out of certain sentences and replacing it with "We" and being the change that you want to see. It only takes one person to speak up, go that extra mile, and inspire others to do the same.  That type of mentality has the power to change neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, and the entire world that we live in. 

Tierra Evans

COL 2014