My DREAMy Summer!

Herinah Asaah, COL ’26, Honolulu, Hawai’i

I spent my summer right here in West Philadelphia working with kids from low-income housing with a nonprofit organization called the DREAM program! DREAM gets grant money from the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) to serve the kids in PHA housing. DREAM has operations in Boston, Vermont, and Philadelphia, and there are four sites across Philly– 3 in North Philadelphia and one in West Philadelphia, where I worked. Before I met the kids that I would spend the summer with, I and the rest of the Summer Enrichment Coordinators at DREAM underwent a two-week orientation. During orientation, they taught us about everything from positive behavior management to what we would do if there was an active shooter. They even told us that when we were done with orientation, we would not feel prepared.

The first day with the kids was awkward at first. However, as the day went on, they got more comfortable. Not only did we have fun, but we learned! Every week we had a theme, and we did activities and gave presentations related to the theme. We tried to make the learning as kid-friendly and accessible as possible, so they were receptive to our educational efforts, and the education went both ways.

From shadow boxing to “Avenger tag,” they taught me a lot of things about what the kids of today are up to. They also taught me a few things inadvertently about patience, emotional regulation, and empathy. In many schools, kids are not given the tools to regulate themselves in a healthy manner, and when they exhibit “bad behavior” due to this lack of tools, they are sent away or reprimanded. We had a week of wellness presentations for the kids, teaching them conflict resolution, emotional regulation, and wellness to try to give them the tools. Through working with them through different behavioral issues and situations, they taught me that patience is something that can be constantly worked on.

The summer flew by quicker than I thought it would! The kids will go back to school in a few weeks, and I hope that they tell their friends about camp and all that we did and all that they learned. More importantly, I hope that they take the skills and lessons that they learned with them. I hope that when they reflect on this summer for years to come, they can remember the care and dedication I tried to exude in every interaction, even when I was telling them not to do something or upset with a displayed behavior. I know that I will remember this summer as not only an intensive cooking pot for my soft skills, but as a fun one filled with interesting, funny, compassionate children that I hope to check back in on one day not too far in the future.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services