Eulogy Postponed

And the miracle of today

Due in 9 months

Hard to believe I only have 9 months left in dear old Texas and then I can come home! Home to home. And be home. It’s so exciting I could die!!!

First week has been the longest week ever. It’s common knowledge that the professors assign more reading material than is humanly possible for even the most invested students to ever read word for word, so I have 5 courses with literally more work than I could ever complete to have read, digested, and applied over the next 14 weeks with presentations, projects, and papers to prove it. The first week is such an odd mix of excitement and professor pep-talks filled with amazing examples of the completed projects that other Community Concentration Social Workers have done that we are familiar with in the Waco community juxtaposed with these syllabi that seem utterly impossible. Expecting this, I prolonged my denial that I am chained to impossible tasks these next few months and went to Colorado Bend State Park this weekend past. Here are some photos:

Ok, so there are some beautiful things in Texas. The best part was when it started raining and I was out in the woods with not a car to be heard. And the humidity was tolerable because of the rain. I Loved it! Notice the rocks in the creek? That’s the trail. Not quite forging the river- my shoes did get wet enough that they are a bit stinky. It was beautiful and oh, so peaceful. The dirty water from the rain wasn’t gorgeous, although the rain was feeding those gorgeous waterfalls. Just what I had been seeking. Until I realized I was walking in Texas where rain comes with thunderstorms which come with lightning and maybe being on top of a “waterfall” was not the best location to be when I’d driven two hours to go hiking alone. At least my parent’s phone knew where I was :)

Apparently Colorado Bend is known for some of the rock formations at the falls I did not have time to hike into. And Caves! If these little guys are any example, it would definitely be worth the 2 hour drive to get there and check out some other time. No Silver Creek, but a definitely by Texas standards. Stay in Texas over Christmas break and check them out? Come home and hike Silver Creek Falls? Hmmm….

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In other news, the dogs are still awesome (Judah, the hardest working Doberman you’ve ever met is still hard at work- keeping skunks away last night. I think he must’ve killed it under my window! Can you smell it from there, too? Or is that my sneakers from the hike?), the horses are still gorgeously present, the crepe mertle I planted last fall is still alive but crispy after last week, Waco is still too hot (although this year I missed the week of 100+ degree weather- Thank God!), the School of Social Work is still more amazing than imaginable (think $2000 scholarship), the other students I have in my classes are amazing and it is indescribably wonderful to sit next to people and wonder how they will be changing the world in the days and years to come, my internship is doing some of the most groundbreaking work to fight the problems faced by unaccompanied [homeless] students here in Waco, and my kombucha scabby is super happy in my less than air conditioned kitchen. All is well! Oh, I’m also working for Dr. Yancey, my favorite professor, who asked me to work on a giant project to reinvigorate an old program for the school- yes, please! Although it meant declining a job working at World Hunger Relief Farms this year. I have to keep reminding myself that I can’t do it all.

My internship is the best ever. If you’ve forgotten, I’m at The Cove. A nurturing center for unaccompanied (kids the school district labels as ‘homeless’ but it’s more complicated than that. Check out McKinney Vento if you’re interested) students after school from 4pm-8pm. Targeting students whose safety net is comprised of others living in insecurity. Because if they are well fed, have their homework done, showered, and have their laundry done they will have an easier time finding a friend to take them in. Finding a couch to sleep on is easy if that’s all you need. It is so exciting to be on the startup end of such an amazing agency. http://www.thecovewaco.org.

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An attempt at taking a picture of the room full of couches, aka my office, a HUD grant proposal, and my mug o’ hot tea. Because coffee doesn’t really work.

Mark your calendars! May 2, 2017 is the day we will be introducing the birth of Sarah Lackner’s MSW Research. We will be celebrating the most grueling adventure I have undertaken so far. The stress, the countless sleepless nights, rigorous doctors demanding seemingly impossible tasks, endless days of hard work and plenty of labor will result in one project to be presented to the world on the second of May….

And then I can look forward to being in my happy place again:

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On a Boat

It’s the Fourth Week of Summer Camp. Oh man. These kids! Each day we ride the waves of unpredictable.

Today, the schedule has Tennis first thing in the morning, then Swimming, then back to a normal schedule when we get back. When the tennis coach did not show up in the morning and the Chess Masters showed up after lunch, we accommodated and still had a great time. There is so much going on at camp and the computers are all so bogged down with ad-ons and viruses that I have not been able to do much online- apologies all around! But my roommate is out with her boyfiend, so I will share my today.

Yesterday all the campers went on a field trip to the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a wax museum depicting significant moments in Black history that the creators, Dr. and Mrs. Martin wanted to preserve African-American history, commemorate great leaders and role models, work against concepts of race inferiority, and work with like-minded charitable organizations. They started with four wax figures in the back of their car in 1980 and today there are over 150 figures now. The tour started with ancient Africa, the Queen of Sheeba and such. Then we walked down into a slave ship and learned about slavery, the dehumanizing violence and terrible conditions those who had been kidnapped were subject to. Some of it was rather graphic with brandings, forced feedings, one woman hung from her thumbs and being beaten for attempting to run away and even a lynching exhibit. My kids were not allowed to see that, thankfully. One girl told me today that she dreamed she had been locked in the exhibit and had to sleep in the slave quarters on the ship- try to imagine!

There were many, many important people, many I had heard of, many I had not. All of them were life-sized and almost all of them were extremely realistic so some of the kids were really scared. They look like they could step forward at any instant. Hannibal on his elephant [not life sized], Bessie Coleman, Harriett Tubman, Reginald Lewis, Sojourner Truth, Jessie Owens, and Joko were my favorites of the dozens of people. I never knew about Jocko Graves before. Have you ever seen the little statues in people’s yards of a black man in a red coat? That’s Jocko! The short version of the story is that his job was to watch the horses for George Washington while he launched a surprise attack. He was 12 and told he was too young to fight, so he stood all night holding two horses and froze to death doing just that. Cool story.

Another wave was the flat tire Bus #2 had on the way home and the 2 hours with 44 kids at McDonalds, but that’s not my story to tell.

Aaaanyways. It was a lot of information for my mostly 6 year-olds to take in and I left knowing we would have to discuss it today. Really it was a blessing that Tennis was canceled. First thing we talked about what they had seen and wanted to talk about. They all remembered the violent stuff, of course. We had them all lie down on the floor and talked about being on a slave ship for 3 months after being taken from mom and dad. Stacked row upon row with every possible space filled, never being allowed to get up- not even to use the bathroom! And definitely not to get your wigglies out. They found Jim Crow hard to believe. We have a “Camp Grandma” who volunteers with us and she shared her memories. I was really impacted! Apparently so were they because one girl said she was afraid of white people. 

“Well, except for you, Miss Sarah.”

Then we talked about what “black” means? They told me that’s what they were like I was dumb or something. So we talked about “white” people. We talked about racism and how our country started through the use of slaves and how some of the things that happened 200 years ago to make our country still exist. We started losing them when we started talking about the importance of getting an education which I hope they will remember. In all reality, they only thing they are going to remember was that we did “the wave” at the very end. Because, duh, they were on a booaaaat!

Ok, so my favorite thing that happened today- when I asked who got to decide who was black and who was white and the first answers were “God”

I pray He is looking over these little campers because America can be scary, regardless of what color you were made.

Investing in Chester

Flying into DC with the flu was not the most fun I have ever had. During the wait for the other Scholars to arrive, I was reflecting upon a previous layover in DC when I was on my way to Africa. I was so fortunate and had a friend living there take me out t see a bit of the area. I just remember the cupcakes were awesome! This time, however, most of what I did was sleep. I talked with several interesting people of the 100 or so Shepherd Scholars who were there but did not spend any time with them after the orientations. I was so wiped out! I’m feeling some better now. Still not 100%. Still not ready to party all night. Don’t worry, I am not staying out after dark in Chester.

The best way to describe Chester is in what my flatmate said- “It feels like I’m back in Panama.”

The first two weeks at the Boys and Girl’s Club have been reeeally sllllllooooooow. The club is closed to kids this week because they are rallying before Summer Camp starts next week. That means they have lots of organization and preparation to manage before the kiddos get here on Monday. That means we three interns have taken inventory of every closet except the one with the toilet paper. We joke that it is the intern hazing ritual- organizing the game closets, craft closets, sports closets before he kids here with the knowledge that every moment we are investing will be completely unraveled within mere moments of the kids having access to them. Oh boy!

Needless to say, we are all looking forward to having the kids here next week.

It has been really fun to be living with these other two students. One is a young girl from Lynchburg, VA and the guy is from KY. It’s so interesting to be living in community with such different people. We walk to work together every morning and have been getting to know the area. Seeing lots of people who need love. I am thankful we have a guy to walk with us for sure! After work, we sometimes cook together and have been eating pretty simple meals. Aiming to stay as far under the $14/day budget as possible, ya know?

Last weekend we all ventured out together on Saturday to check out the best affordable entertainment we could find- the state lacrosse tournament. I really enjoyed it, but I was the only one who did not come back with a severe sunburn (nothing worse than 2nd degree, but the VA girl felt terrible the rest of the day and refused to leave the house Sunday). Sunday I headed to Philadelphia to see the Odunde Festival. It had been describe to me as a celebration of traditional African culture. Sounded awesome! It was also Pride weekend, so I got to be present for both. Which also meant the bus routes were NOT at all on course, so the directions I had received at the Information Center were way off and I ended up walking ALL over town. Literally, waked for like 5 hours. It so good after being cooped up all week! I realized while being there and seeing lots of “African” goods made in China that I want to invest all of the $14/day that I have been given into the local area. That’s $14/day that I can support the Chester economy with! I’m excited about that but not as excited about the local food options. Fried chicken with chips on every menu. With little variation. No vegans here!

So, it’s almost Friday, Chester is a little scary, but not really. The Club is going to be amazing starting next week. And I am excited for this weekend and the opportunity to maybe celebrate Juneteenth? Public transportation is not as cheap as one would hope yet it is so much fun to be able to take the train to any of the big cities. Love that!! Can’t wait for Friday! I think we’re planning on heading to West Chester ( They have a gelato shop if that gives you any indication of the fact that it is a very different city…)

My current address is 1523 Upland St Apt 4, Chester, PA 19013. I will be here until the last week of June when we go to the Closing Conference. And y’all know how much I love mail! Send me a stamp if you want me to write back, eh?

Sending you all huge hugs and lots of love from PA!

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