GA Adventures – Reflection: October 2015

This is a reflection I’ve written for the Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement Scholars I work with. Read my introduction to these here, and read the original post here.

Prompt

Part A – Based on the descriptions given during the October training and your work in FSNE thus far, how would you describe your subject area and the work you do to a stranger?

Part B – Please talk about a project you would like to work on during your time at FSNE.

Response

I wasn’t actually able to make it to the October training :-(, but I will still answer the prompt!

Part A

I wear several hats in my role as a Graduate Assistant here at Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement: Health, FSNE Scholars, Development, and Near West/Great Places 2020. I will break down my roles below.

Health

Currently, I am working with my supervisor and a Service Learning Assistant on this project. We are working on two things: combing the Quality of Life Plans for all health-related references and creating a list of campus and community resources. Once those are complete, we will begin to find data to guide our further work. We will then work with the campus and community resources to address health-related goals in the Quality of Life plans.

Here are our goals broken down:

Quality of Life Plans

  • Identify health-related goals, strategies, and action items
  • Create spreadsheet to input health-related data from Quality of Life Plans

Neighborhood Data

  • Review Health data for each neighborhood
  • Note any critical statistics that were not addressed in the Quality of Life Plans
  • Note any critical statistics that align with Quality of Life Plans

Resources

  • Create spreadsheet with community and campus resources
  • Inventory IUPUI resources that align with Quality of Life Plans and data

Partnerships

  • Meet community – confirm priorities for Health
  • Find community partners / work with existing community partners to set goals

Plan of Action

  • Create Plan of Action based on findings
  • Update this Work Plan once Plan of Action is created
FSNE Scholars

The Community Partner Scholar program at IUPUI, which is part of the Sam H. Jones Scholar program has been changed slightly. It is now called the Family, School, and Neighborhood Scholar program, and I am responsible for coordinating it. I plan their monthly training sessions, coordinate their schedules, and help mediate any issues that arise.

Here are my duties broken down:

Supervise FSNE Scholars / Students in FSNE

  • Collect Student Time Logs on Canvas and add them to a monthly spreadsheet
  • Collect and review monthly reflections
  • Be main point of contact for students

Train

  • Lead Orientation
  • Help plan monthly scholar training sessions
  • Lead Values Inventory Training
  • Help them create eportfolios and digital stories
Development

I work with the Development Director at FSNE to help locate potential grants for our many projects. photo 3So far this year, I have helped plan FSNE’s booth at the Immigrant Welcome Center‘s ALL-IN Block Party and located potential grant options for three projects.

Here are my duties broken down:

Research

  • Research grants/funding opportunities that align with FSNE Goals
  • Find out who can fund
  • When are the deadlines?

Track

  • Create and maintain a spreadsheet to track core information – due dates, grant amount, etc.photo 5

Editing & Writing

  • Assist Susan with editing and writing grant applications
  • Support Fundraising

Special Projects

  • Plan and attend events
Near West/Great Places 2020

This is not a formal duty, but I have worked to help the Near West and Great Places 2020 initiatives by updating and archiving their website, attending Near West Steering Committee Meetings, updating the Near West Steering Committee contact list, and attending the Great Places 2020 Public Forums.

Part B

To be honest, I am satisfied with the projects I have been working on at this point. However, I would like to help out with revamping the Near West website. I think that would be a project that caters to my interests.

But other than that, I’m happy with what I’ve been working on so far 🙂

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Grad School: Experiences with MUVEs

This is a post for my LIS S401 class: Computer-Based Information Tools.

My husband Daniel and I at the IUPUI Regatta dressed as Harry Potter characters.

Daniel and I

This post has two parts: a description of an experience using a MUVE and ways libraries could use MUVEs.

For this post, I have interviewed my husband, Daniel, who has lots and lots of experience gaming and playing MUVEs.

A MUVE is a “Multi-Universe Virtual Environment,” where you can interact with a virtual world and other people inside of the virtual world.

Fun Fact: Daniel works for a local theatre which is currently running a show called The Nether, in which characters interact in a virtual reality (think The Matrix) MUVE called The Hideaway.”

Daniel’s first experience with a MUVE was with the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or MMO) Anarchy Online way back between 1999 and 2000, when he was around 9-10 years old. This is long before World of Warcraft came out, which is usually people’s first introduction to MMOs. Anarchy Online came out around when EverQuest was the ultimate MMO.

Daniel’s dad (my father-in-law) had bought a one-month subscription for him and his sons to it because he found the idea of MMOs intriguing and there weren’t many things like it. When the game first released, it was massively buggy and basically unplayable. When Daniel’s dad bought it, most of the bugs had been worked out and it was finally starting to gain its virtual land legs.

This was Daniel’s first time where he actually got to make and design a character in a game. Most games in those days just had standard basic characters (basic wizard, basic warrior, standard military dude, etc.), but in Anarchy, Daniel really had control over the character, and he liked that he had more flexibility with it. He could choose to play a male character, or he could choose to make a female character if he wanted to.Anarchy Screenshot

Anarchy Online is a futuristic game, so Daniel also had the option to play an alien race if he wanted to. He spent a long time flipping through the different options he could play until he finally decided on one: Liadon, a female solitus (human). On the next screen, he also had a large choice as to what profession he wanted his character could be. Each profession had a description, so Daniel spent time reading through each one until he settled on the Adventurer profession, which sounded similar to a Ranger. Daniel figured he could get an animal companion based on the image of the sample Adventurer, but he later found out Adventurers could become animals.

With character creation complete, Liadon (Daniel’s character) was dropped into a futuristic junk yard. There was no quest, there were no windows that popped up and told him what to do, he was just dropped in. He just had to figure out what to do.

He noticed some robots that were walking around, and as he walked around, he found a little green oasis that had a little shop with a shopkeeper. Daniel spent a long time playing with the buttons and options to figure out what he could do. It was really, really, really confusing for him. Eventually, he learned how to attack things, and after he would kill things, he would collect loot to sell to the shopkeeper in return for better gear.

Later on, Daniel came in contact with another player named “Romulan2,” another solitus, who had been playing the game for some time before Daniel joined. He just sat down with Daniel for hours talking about the game, how to do different things, and then he showed him how to get to a big city. If it wasn’t for Romulan2, Daniel thinks he probably would have quit the game because he was so lost.

This was the first time Daniel was ever in an open world that was absolutely gigantic where you can go anywhere, do anything, and it was weird for him not to have a purpose or someone telling him what to do. He had to make his own adventure, and it was the sense of exploration that kept him going.

The game became more enjoyable when he started meeting other people, making connections with them, and started exploring things together.

Daniel became “pretty obsessed” with the game, and he played it almost every day for three years. Even to this day, he still logs on to play (and he has even shown me the ropes).

Daniel and his brothers eventually started fighting over who got to play the game, because back then, they didn’t have a computer and account for everyone.

Daniel has formed really good friendships and connections with the people in the game. Looking back on some of the times that he’s played, he says they’re some of his most fond memories of gaming.


MUVEs are great ways for kids and people who have social issues to communicate and work together in a safe environment. It allows people to step into a world where you can be yourself without really showing who you are.

MUVEs can be a new way to learn for a generation who has grown up with video games.

Libraries could use MUVEs in several different ways.

One way would include either being a game designer or employing them. Libraries could build MUVEs that center around books and the exploration of books. Rather than just reading a book, they could really walk around in and explore the world that the book takes place in.

Another idea could be that libraries could use MUVEs as teaching tools. Whether it’s teaching students to work together or about a specific topic, a MUVE could be built so students can explore those topics and work together.

A third idea is to form a group inside an existing MUVE, such as a book group, or just a group that goes around exploring together. People could either come into the library to play together, or they could play from home. Librarians could make themselves available in the MUVEs to be moderators and also leaders.

There are lots of ways libraries could incorporate MUVEs, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’m currently reading book called Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age by Kurt Squire. I would highly recommend it.

GA Adventures – Reflection: September 2015

This is a reflection I’ve written for the Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement Scholars I work with. Read my introduction to these here, and read the original post here.

PromptCenter for Service and Learning. Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholarship Program Jacket

  • Based on the overview from our Community 101 Training, your review of the Quality of Life Plans, and your first few weeks working in FSNE (Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement), what social issues do you feel are most pressing in our community?
  • How do you feel your work this year will contribute to improving the Quality of Life in the Urban Core?

Response

There are a wide variety of social issues that affect the Indianapolis urban core, and each of them affect every single person in Indianapolis regularly. Getting to the root of what causes many of these social issues and tackling that might be better than trying to tackle each one individually.

For the purposes of this reflection, I will talk about two pressing social issues in the Indianapolis urban core.

My main areas of focus in my position have to do with education and health.

Health

In order to get to a healthier Indianapolis, we have to tackle some major issues: the healthcare system, the cost of and access to healthy food, safe places where people can exercise for free, among many others. If we can fix those issues and have healthy people living in our communities, we might have less people getting into debt caused by medical bills. If we have healthy people, we might have lower mortality rates.

Education

In order to have an educated population, we have to tackle a whole host of other issues: we need to prioritize how we want our students to learn (and pay our teachers!), we have to find a way so students are focused on their education (and not have the admin focused on what they’re wearing), we have to find a way to get every student access to education (and do we want a system where two students in a city can grow up K-12 where one goes to a private school and one goes to an underfunded public school just because one child’s parent has more money?), and I could go on for years about the issues plaguing our education system.

However, if we have a functioning education system that actually supports and encourages its students, we might have less people in what’s called the school to prison pipeline. If we have a better education system, we might have people who are educated on ways to be engaged in society (so maybe we elect people who can really do their jobs). Maybe they’ll make more money. Maybe they’ll be more independent. Maybe there will be less crime. Who knows what might be?

Other Issues

Unfortunately, even if we have healthy and educated people living in Indianapolis, we still have a system that puts some people in a place of privilege while stopping others from advancing in society, no matter how healthy or educated they are.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution; we have to make our society a one based off equity, where everyone gets access to the things they need.

How? I don’t really know. Right now, we have many organizations trying to improve education, health, livability, opportunity, and more. Many of these organizations focus on helping individuals, which I think is a great idea, but is it sustainable? Maybe. We really need our system to change, but that’s harder than moving ourselves to Mars.

My Contribution

I will continue my work as a Graduate Assistant working to build partnerships in the Indianapolis urban core to improve the health and general quality of life of its residents. I will help train the five scholars I work with and help them grow into civic-minded graduates who are able to make change in our society. I will work to help fund my colleagues in their projects that make improvements in workforce development, education, health, and human services in the urban core. I will apply what I’m learning here to my future career in library sciences.

Theatre Q&A

I got this Theatre Q&A from promptsbydee, a blog you all should check out that’s run by a lovely friend and former classmate of mine. 

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1. How old are you?

Twenty-one.

2. When did you start getting into theatre?

I have been acting since I was maybe seven or eight. I honestly can’t remember.

3. How many shows have you been in?

Oh dear… Last time I checked it was well over twenty. That isn’t counting the small bits and scenes from shows I’ve done in classes either.

4. Favorite role ever played?

I’m not sure… Maybe Hermia in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She’s short, feisty, loyal, and fierce, and I think we can relate to each other.

Old school mirror selfies for the win

Old school mirror selfies and braces for the win!

Also, I had a good time playing the Pippitfly in The Curious Quest for the Sandman’s Sand when I was little. Whenever the character would eat cheese, I think, she would sneeze and fly backwards. We had a gigantic ramp that I would have to run, er fly, up backwards.

5. A tip you always give to new theatre kids?

Just keep acting. Don’t worry about what parts you get. Just keep doing it. Also, auditions are intimidating, but they are well worth it.

6. Biggest theatre pet peeves?

When people forget they’re part of a team, and when people forget why we do theatre.

7. Who is your biggest inspiration in theatre?

Oh goodness. Probably just the “big stars” in my local theatre community. It has been amazing to watch them perform in show after show after show and how they never lose their love for bringing stories to new audiences.

8. What’s your dream role?

I don’t know if I have one, to be honest. I think my dream would be to play as many diverse characters as possible. Like, do a lot from different genres and play different types of characters. Villains, heroes, college girls, old ladies, moms, daughters, sisters, mentors, etc. Just to branch out and play characters that are outside of my comfort zone.

9. Plays or musicals? 

Both, but if I had to choose one… musicals?222840_2009359876308_164776_n

10. Favorite drama game?

The “This is a what?” game. It’s to get you to focus on two tasks at once, without faltering.

It’s hard to explain by typing, but it has a group of people in a circle. They get an item and have to show it to the next person by saying, “This is a ___.” Person B responds with saying, “A what?”

It goes like this:

“This is a ___.” “A what?” “A ____.” “A what?” “A ____.” “Oh! A ____.”

Then Person B turns to the next person (Person C) and tells them what it is. Person B has to not only hear what the next item is, but they have to relay the first item to the next person.

Does that make sense?

11. What’s your favorite show?

I recently got to see River City produced by the Phoenix Theatre, and it has definitely become one of my favorites. In terms of musicals, one of my favorites is Miss Saigon. More favorites would include, The Importance of Being Earnest, Avenue Q, The Producers, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and there’s probably so many more…

12. Most awkward onstage moment?

Probably when an actor forgot all of his lines and started making things up, which turned out to be hilarious jumbles of words (“It’s Shakespeare, no one knows it anyway”). It was really hard for everyone onstage (and backstage) not to break character and laugh.

13. What would you do if theatre didn’t exist?

If it had never existed: I probably would have struggled with trying to find a creative outlet for my energy and would be very bored as an adult.

If it were to suddenly be outlawed or something: I would probably start or join an underground movement to bring it back.

I’m going to tag chommpers and anyone else who wants to share!

Are you involved in theatre, or do you prefer to just watch it? 

On Teamwork and Libraries

Last week, the library system I work for held their annual Staff Day, which worked like a mini conference for all of our employees. I had a great time, and I left feeling validated and excited for my future in libraries. Below are some of the main concepts and ideas I took away from the meeting:

The Main Library on Staff Day.

The Main Library on Staff Day.

Teamwork and Outreach

One of the sessions I attended focused on outreach and collaboration between our library branches and the surrounding communities. However, I found a hidden message in the speech: teamwork is essential to the success of a library. One of the speakers, a manager from a branch in a neighborhood similar to mine, spoke about how she encourages her staff to work together to help their branch reach their potential.

Rather than taking on the job, as the branch manager, of reaching out to and forming partnerships with community organizations alone, she allows her employees to go to community meetings, form partnerships, maintain those partnerships, and so on. She shares the task of keeping the branch involved to her employees, and she trusts them to understand how partnerships work, how to keep them going, to know when to end partnerships, and how to enrich them.

Together, they have combined their knowledge and resources to bring in organizations that can help their patrons and they have made their branch a focal point and gathering place for the community. That is what I hope for every single library I will ever work for.

Libraries and Communities

Me working on a Valentine's Day craft program.

Me working on a Valentine’s Day craft program.

Libraries are no longer a place to find books, they are community centers in disguise. They work with and for their patrons. They are information hubs, and they don’t just know books anymore. They know community resources. They know where to find help for struggling patrons. They either know it, or they know where they can find it.

However, a library can’t just open up and say, “We’re here; let’s get started.” They need to listen to and know their community. What her patrons need may not be what my patrons need; what my patrons need isn’t what a branch in a wealthy neighborhood needs. We, as libraries, can’t go into a community and assume we have all the answers. We need to know our patrons; we need to know the needs of our community; and we need to know what our community needs from us. Our job isn’t to tell them what we do; our job is to listen to our community and then work with them to figure out what we can do to best help our community grow stronger.

Whether we serve as a gathering place for community leaders, or whether we offer and instruct classes and programs that help our patrons succeed, we need to listen to our communities first.

Teamwork and Your Library

Family Craft Night in November 2014.

Family Craft Night in November 2014. I’m honored to have the opportunity to step away from my normal duties to have fun with our young patrons.

In this post, I have done my best to try and explain the importance of libraries and communities using teamwork to make the community stronger, and I have done my best to outline that it’s not the job of the library to determine what the community needs; the library has to listen to the community to best figure out what they can do to be a part of the community and make it grow.

I want to return to a point I made earlier about the branch manager and her staff. They did everything together and as a team. They demonstrated what makes libraries work best, and that is delegating tasks and trusting each other.

No one person can hold a library together. The community uses the library, the library needs the community, and the library staff makes sure nothing falls apart. A library works best when the tasks are delegated to all of the staff members. Being given responsibilities outside of their “regular” duties allows staff members to feel connected to their branch, and it gives them a sense of purpose.

Our events calendar and some of our displays for Halloween 2014. I have the responsibility to create our events calendar and to help with displays, which gives me more motivation and happiness when I come into work.

Our events calendar and some of our displays for Halloween 2014. I have the responsibility to create our events calendar and to help with displays, which gives me more motivation and happiness when I come into work.

When staff members feel like they matter to their business more than just their job outline, I think they are likely to perform better. This all is just my opinion of course, but I’ve seen it happen.

As always, there are people who are just there for the paycheck to survive, and that is absolutely fine. But for employees lower on the “totem pole” and who are passionate about the work they do, being given responsibilities encourages them to perform better, and it boosts their morale.


I’m thankful to have been given the chance to attend Staff Day and to have listened to such an inspiring and thought-provoking session. A lot of what I’ve said here is just my opinion, but I think there’s some merit to it.

To be a successful library, we have to work together with our fellow staff members, and most importantly, we have to work with our community.