Friday, September 30, 2016

My Story

My Story

I wanted to fit in, I always thought I could.
I tried to change myself physically, no one understood,
What is was like to be me, and to feel like an outcast.
Being me, was being the fattest girl in class.
My mom begged me to stop eating bad,
Tried explaining to me how my weight gain will gives other kids ammunition to make me sad.
But I told my mom how hard it was for me,
I loved food and it filled me with glee.
But she was relentless and put me on every diet,
None of them worked because only in front of her would I try it.
Behind the scenes I would eat beyond your wildest dreams.
Food never judged me, it never made me cry.
Food was there, standing by me, and was literally on my sides.
No one understood my situation,
My mom was the girl in school who was prom queen and wore bikinis on vacation.
I felt like she hated me, and
I was the daughter she never wanted.
Nothing about me could be flaunted.
But she loved me with all of her heart,
She was so proud of her daughter who was oh so smart.
I could write an essay, or pass any test,
But at the end of the day I still felt like a pest.
Because I could never fit in, like everyone wanted me too.
My best friends dropped me because I wasn’t cool.
I didn’t wear Abercrombie, or fit into the tiny jean skirts.
All I could wear is whatever didn’t make me look like I was going to burst.
However these experiences built me into the woman I am today,
I still struggle with my weight, but I finally can look in the mirror and say okay.
With a half smile, and maybe a tear in my eye,
But with these life experiences I will make sure that no other child lives a story like mine.  
Written by: Ilana Tirocchi

This is my life story, its been written by me and many others in my life... whats yours? 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Construction of Adolescence- Nakkula

Ten words/concepts that are confusing or contribute to the major concepts of the text:
1. Maligned: did not know the word.
2. "...frightening for Danielle since it exposes what she feels is the lack of credibility or cultural capital she needs to interact with him in a way that feels comfortable.": I did not understand what the concept of this statement was.  Was she trying to say she doesn't understand him as a person so she cannot communicate comfortably with him? I feel like if that is the case, than this statement is very important to the chapter. 
3. "Unwilling or Unable to simply talk to her about his fears...": This is a powerful piece of the text, because it shows how and why many students act out in the classroom. It is more than just bad behaviors, there are reasons behind it that her or she is unwilling or unable to share.  
4. "...they are constructing implicit theories about their classroom, adults in their lives, their peers, and, by extension, forming theories about themselves.": important to the major concept of this text about how experiences with others shape our own lives. 
5. Tested Knowledge: unsure of its meaning. 
6. Pathologized: I'm sorry, what? confusing word alert!   
7. "As school-based professionals we are active contributors to the co-construction of adolescents in our work": I think this concept is key to the text, and also KEY for all types of educators to know.  
8. "They must imagine who or what they might become, based on who they are or hope to be, and in doing so they must experiment with getting there.": this is important to the concept of the text about adolscents constructing themselves through trial and error. 
9. "...ultimately, however, the meaning they make of their experiences is theirs, regardless of how it may match or conflicts with ours.": Very important to the text and to understanding this co-construction concept. The youth and the adult may have different or similar views of a situation, but how that youth interprets it has nothing to do with how the adult may interpret the situation. 
10. Work Relationally: a word and concept I feel many educators need to understand and use in and outside of the classroom. 

10 People that have Co-Constructed My Life: 
1. Mom: positively & negatively
2. Dad: +, -
3. Brandon: +
4. Lauren: +
5. Bullies in school: +, -
6. Lesley Bogad: + 
7. Cousins:+, -
8. Cindie: +
9. Jared: +, -
10. Mrs. Flynn: +; from a negative situation

I chose to speak about Lesley Bogad and how she has greatly impacted my life and who I am/hope to be.  I feel as though she has had one of the greatest impacts in my life to date.  I may not see Lesley everyday, and I may not speak to her all the time, but she has provided a complete safe space and person for me in my life.  Lesley has really laid out a path for my thinking style to walk on, and has connected with me more than any other educator or person in my life.  I feel like when I watch and listen to Lesley that she is the person I aim to be one day, and she is everything I have wanted to be.  She has shown me that it is okay to be different, think differently, and embrace differences.  I was always shot down my whole life for being different, looking different, and thinking so much more maturely (as many people would phrase it).  The reason I was thinking maturely is because I was thinking about not just myself, as many selfish adolescents do, but I was always thinking about others and their feelings.  No one understood me, and said I was too sensitive, or just a baby.  When learning  and discussing concepts and topics with Lesley I finally had that moment of relief.  Relief that I finally found where my puzzle piece fit.  I finally felt at home inside of her classroom and presence.  Lesley has a way of making youth (that includes myself) feel comfortable and free.  I do not feel one once of judgment when I am around her, and she embodies everything I've dreamt and hoped of being as an adult.  She has taught me more than any other teacher in my entire life, and everyday she keeps shaping my brain in amazing ways with her styles and methods of teaching (along with the content we learn).  I always felt like I was lost and wandering alone, but you made me feel like I was just wandering on my own path to meet you in college.  I hope you can help me more and continue in co-constructing my story with me. Thank you Lesley for being the LARGEST positive impact in my life.  I am ever so grateful for you, and I ALWAYS tell EVERYONE that but you, so here it is; THANK YOU <3  


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Color Brave


The feeling of invisibility is powerful.  It is also painful, harrowing, and isolating.  I remember in middle school and the beginning of high school feeling exactly this way.  I was invisible to my peers.  I did not look like the popular girl in school, and my peers knew it.  They never said anything, but just their body language was enough.  I could read their faces and know what they were thinking.  They isolated me; forced me to create my own bubble and world because I was not allowed to engage in theirs.  This invisibility ended once I realized that I was worthy enough to employ in the world everyone was kicking me out of.  

Now imagine this world extending beyond the high school context. Imagine a world your hesitantly allowed to engage in, being right outside your front door. For Africans in America, and other minorities, this is their everyday life.  There is a "popular girl and boy" in society.  They are the skin color white, tall, fit, thin, blue eyes, beautiful long flowing hair; everything that Africans are not.  African and other minorities feel every single day what I experienced for 5 years in school.  Mellody Hobson in her Ted Talk Color Blind, or Color Brave?, illustrates her experiences of how society has tried to push her into her own bubble.  And how they continually are marginalizing other Africans and minorities in our world.  She explained the popular boys in society (white males) only make up 30% of our population, however they make up 70% of all corporate board seats.  How is this possible? This is possible because we are ignoring, and choosing to ignore, the over qualified people of color that can fill these positions.  Hobson argues this point, because it is a quantifiable fact, and a real statistic in America.  These are not facts she is making up, but reality that she is just shining a bright light on.  This oppression is the foundation for invisibility.  The popular kids are not allowing Africans or other minorities to engage in their fun; forcing them to create their own worlds and means of making money.  Whether that may be selling drugs or joining a gang to achieve some power in their environment, it is ultimately the "cool kids" (whites) who have pressured the "uncool kids" to do this.  I was pushed to create my own kind of power in school by getting good grades.  I was lucky enough to push my anger and deprivation of power into something positive and beneficial, because I felt powerful getting better grades than the cool kids, but in this societal context, even good education is not always granted to people of color.  So their way of breaking out of the invisibility is by creating their own noise, power, and world.  Hobson also explains that color blindness is not real, and I agree.  Color blindness is just a way for us to ignore real issues with race and avoid any conflict, or debate about it.  People see color, bottom line.  If you have eyeballs in the front of your head that work correctly, than you can see the difference in skin tones.  So why not embrace those tones? Embrace the "difference" and talk about it.  Make it aware so that when an African child watches T.V., or even just leaves their home, they see themselves in the world around them.  Allow them to KNOW that they CAN participate in this world, and that they CAN and ARE just as worthy to participate in it than the "cool kids" that are making them feel otherwise. 

I feel as though Youth in Actions mission is to reduce the amount of youth that feel powerless in this world.  They are on a mission to empower, and inspire these oppressed youth to fill in those board chairs, and to be represented in corporate America, and every other institution or context where whites are over represented. YIA also educates their youth on how to empower their peers and communities to feel worthy enough know they are important. YIA is providing future generations with the tools necessary to leave their imprint in this world we so forcefully push them out of. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Youth In Action: Empowering Youth To Lead

Youth In Action is a nonprofit that takes a look at working with, and helping youth under a completely different light than what our society is used to.  There is always a power dynamic when it comes to a youth and their superior.  Whether that superior might be their parents, teachers, mentors, officers, etc. That dynamic is always where the youth holds slim to no power, while that superior holds most of it.  In Youth in Action, this idea of power running vertically is unheard of.  At YIA the power runs horizontally, where "youth and adults are growing together" (YIA, pg. 49).  The Idea for YIA is to not have the youth be lectured at, but to raise discussion to learn.    

Just as of recently I have interviewed with YIA for my upcoming internship. In the text when it explains the environment and feel of this four story house/building it is correct.  It isn't your typical building you would expect.  It has a lounge area for youth and adults to hangout in, it has a full kitchen where meals are made for events, or just cause.  It also has a large space, which would be a living room for most, that has transformed into a place where controversial topics are disputed and discussed in a large circle.  There are many more important rooms that I will learn much more about during my internship there.  But even visiting for the first time for my interview, I felt comfortable in this space as soon as I walked through the front door.  Even the porch outside had a small garden of fresh vegetables that the youth and organization have planted and grown.  There are pictures of the past events and youth leaders all over the walls, in rememberance of all the empowering youth that have made a difference in their lives and communities. (Also pictures of current YIA members) 

At my interview I was told a specific model that YIA use as of today.  They have three stages to their program.  The first stage involves getting to know the youth, where they think hey stand in the world and in our social justice system.  YIA gets to know the youth inside and out, the same way youth get to know every aspect of the adults lives.  I am not sure of exactly what happens in this stage, again hopefully I will learn much more as my internship goes on.  In the second stage, youth are able to go into the communities and schools where they do workshops for other youths.  This is the real empowering part, where the youth are now completely leading certain projects. There is also a third stage for those youth that want more, for the youth that want to change policy and go way farther. And throughout each stage, youth and adults are working side by side to help youth build these great workshops and build the confidence to facilitate them. 

When I was younger I never had an older role model to help me feel like I was an important person in this world. I was so smart, and I never spoke in class because I felt that what I had to say was always wrong, or not important.  The teachers would not embrace discussion, but yearn for the exact correct answer they needed and the move on.  So I was always worried that my "exact correct" answer was never correct enough.  YIA takes that fear away from youth and replaces it with confidence.  I wish programs such as YIA were available for me, but I will make sure that one day it will be available for all youth that need this partnership and strength to feel like their answer or responses to questions and ideas are always their own version of "exact and correct", and that they have the confidence to say it. 

I love everything that YIA does every single day for youth in Providence, and I cannot wait to become a part of this team.

One day, cohort 4, this thank you will be to all of us! #believeinyouth

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Youth Work Introduction Response

Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with this idea of equality.  As a child I couldn't put it into words, I didn't know how to say or write down this internal feeling of equality and social justice. My mom was a teacher in Providence, and I would compare her classrooms to those of my own in Hope Highland Elementary School in Western Cranston.  I did not come from a place where everyone had millions of dollars in their bank accounts, but I came from an area where DCYF and school social workers were never even heard/spoke of.  I couldn't understand this difference, why is was there, what it meant, and why there were differences when I was a kid just like the ones in my mothers classroom.  

That was a brief history insight as to why I am so passionate about youth work and empowering youth to be the best they can be.  Its been an internal drive for me since the age of four.  In this reading of Youth Work by Jason Wood, Sue Westwood, and Gill Thompson (2015) they played out the idea and meaning of a youth worker in many different aspects.  This reading allows people to truly understand what a youth worker is/does and how powerful a youth worker can be in a youths life. Wood, Westwood, and Thompson (2015) discuss characteristics of youth workers, and what a youth worker must be to be effective and successful for youth.

1. Teaching an informal curriculum

  • This idea of teaching youth as a youth worker, is teaching more life skills through activities and conversations.  Teaching them alternative ways to handling problems, responding and not reacting to situations, and helping them form a better path of life to lead. 
2. Youth work as a social practice

  • Having effective conversations and activities with youth in a group setting I believe is key to working with youth.  It is in my opinion more effective because the youth have people to relate to, especially when they might be already having feelings of loneliness or isolation.  With "at-risk" youth, working in a group setting might be beneficial to breaking barriers that are formed from gang association or other issues.  
3. Challenging Inequality

  • Inequality is everywhere in society, in everything we do in everyday life.  Schools even have a lot of inequality within their curriculum.  As a youth worker, social justice should be a key in guiding and aiding youth.  Many of the youth I will be working with will feel some sort of injustice, and it is my duty as a youth worker to help them battle this injustice, and get the equality they deserve.   
4. Young people should CHOOSE to be involved

  • Many programs youth feel compelled to go to, but choosing to be involved in something that is foreign to youth.  Some may not want to be at the program they are standing at all, but as a youth worker I must make that space be a place where the youth want to go to instead of have to.  
5. Strengthen Youths Voice

  • Giving youth a voice is one of the most powerful impacts a youth worker can have on a child.  For me, I think it is the most important thing a youth worker can do.  Giving youth a voice and empowering them is my goal in the future.  
6. Youth work is a welfare practice

  • Doing youth work can be a welfare type of practice, but keep in mind to always show youth that we are not fixing their problems, but empowering them to be even better.
7. Holistically working with Youth
  • Youth may have issues that seem to be "fixed" by fixing the immediate problem you see, but as I've learned in the past, it is much more than just that immediate problem.  There are deeper problems rooted int he lives of the youth that we help, and it is our job as a youth worker to find out those imbedded issues and work them out with youth so that they can overcome the real issue. 
All of these characteristics were always values of mine.  To stay open minded, open hearted and guide youth in ways that mainstream education cannot.  I have not been able to effectively use my tools and work directly as a youth worker like I want to be doing so far, but from the small amount of exposure and experience I have had, I believe I've been being a true youth worker.  In the classrooms I have worked in I have done more of the mainstream education, and not informal education.  Even when I was working in the classrooms in Providence, when a child was upset I was more interested in  the child that was crying than the important math equation I was trying to teach.  I am excited to use the tools I have been taught in youth development, and truly become all of these characteristics of a Youth Worker. 


Mi Vita

Mi Vita 
Ilana Tirocchi
20ish years old
Almost graduating!! :)
YDEV Major (Forever)
High School Sweethearts 6 years later

My brother and I in California this past summer. no other siblings we only have each other, but he is the best brother on this planet 
Food is life, right? 
Cutest Puppy in this whole world and his name is BIGGIE :)
My Twin and I= Daddy! 
Mommy and I :)
again :)
My second Family (Brandon's Family)
My Beautiful Besties Brianna (middle), Lauren (right)
Halloween makeup I did on Brandon on I! One of my favorite holidays !!

This is just a peek into some parts of my life