Week 2

Week 2 by Acting Teaching Artist Assistant Grace Madeya

Week 2 of City Spotlights was busy as the teen leaders worked on their advocacy presentation for the State House and they started learning their flash mob. I was amazed by their hard work as I saw the teens push themselves outside their comfort zones and explore different art forms. 

The most powerful moment of the week was seeing the teen leaders practice their group song for their State House presentation. The teen leaders showcased their talents during the song. Some teens who have been shy and introverted throughout the program stepped forward and sang beautiful solos. I wanted to jump out of my chair because their voices together were stunning and left me speechless. The song almost left me in tears because it showed me how City Spotlights gives teens a platform to not only advocate, but do so in a creative, unified way. We need more art like their group song in the world because it challenges the listener to really hear the message and go make change in their community. I saw their passion and their drive to make the world a better place. 

The flash mob was so exciting to watch not only because of the teens' amazing dance skills, but because they started to work as one, united team. Many teen leaders came into rehearsal feeling excited, while others seemed more nervous. As a former teen leader, I understood all of the mixed feelings as I have once felt those. Now having a staffer's perspective, I wanted to go in all positive, hoping my energy transfers on to the teens and to be their support. However, I did not need to bring in that energy because the teens were already doing that for each other. The teen leaders who were nailing the dance would help the teens who were struggling. Teens who did not interact before cheered one another on and shared sweet moments of high-fiving and smiles as they started to feel more confident in the dance. It was really beautiful seeing these connections form and witnessing a loving environment of teens who did not know each other two weeks ago. 

The best part of my job is seeing the connections and bonds made through the arts and knowing that our community is full of teens who want to see each other succeed and make a change. I am so grateful that the teen leaders are pushing themselves with their art and creating a loving environment where everyone is welcome. 

CSLP So Far by Music Junior Assistant Samantha Angulo

I have had a great experience in this program. I am always excited and looking forward to the blocks of community buildings and specialties because they are my two favorite parts of the day. Those where I connect with the teens and again feeling nostalgic because I remember when I was “the teen” (which I tend to forget sometimes). I play and create instead of observing from the side lines and stepping up just when I feel needed. But even if I am on the side lines, I've been working on taking up and giving space to people. We have really smart, down to earth, goofy, and committed teens. I notice how teens have fun but also feel free to be themselves. Teens feel that they belong, have people to relate to, and also create art for their own futures. Hearing people having experiences like me before finding this program, about how schools were hard for them and having friends and socializing was an everyday challenge but in the program they could feel welcome, finding people that have so much in common as differences, having a community that could call home and being happy in. 

I have so many highlights of the week. Hearing people creating music in the specialty I'm in. They are bold and open minded with what they believe in, so determined. I remembe hearing one of the students commenting to another “you should create an album” to which i agreed. The teens amazed me every single day and I couldn’t be more pleased with the group I have. Having an amazing teacher artist and teacher artist assistant makes my days more fun and makes it easier for me to adjust and teach. Everyone including teens and staff have a healthy environment and put “self care” above all else. Checking in with each other to see if we need something or need a time out. Something that always should be reinforced not just at work but in life. Everyday is a learning experience but a great day, too. Bringing back such great memories reminds me again and again why decide to come back to City Spotlights.