Bringing #Disruption in Political Communication to USF

One of the many things that draws students to our graduate programs in Public and Urban Affairs is our location in the vibrant and diverse San Francisco community. We pride ourselves on giving our students myriad opportunities to put what they are learning in the classroom to use in their “backyard” here in the Bay Area.   We are often lucky enough to have local political figures, from supervisors to city planners, take part in a class or open up their organizations to give our students an insider’s view of the complex, inner workings of the city.


Professor Ken Goldstein

One such opportunity is the American Political Science Association’s annual conference, where our Master of Public Affairs program is proud to co-sponsor a day-long pre-conference workshop, led by Professor Ken Goldstein, on Wednesday, September 2nd.

Entitled, “#Disruption: Political Communication in a Digital Age,” the program will feature eight (8) panels showcasing the work of more than fifty (50) political communication scholars in addition to an Author-Meets-Critics Roundtable featuring Jennifer Stromer-Galley’s new book, “Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age.”

The year’s conference focuses on the challenges of measuring and understanding politics in today’s rapidly changing media environment. These disruptions challenge our paradigms and encourage new analytical modes, while reinvigorating questions about the politics of persuasion.  The pre-conference is an opportunity to discuss the intersection of information technology and political communication in a city so heavily intertwined with the heart of tech: Silicon Valley.

I’m thrilled that our students have the opportunity to engage with scholars at the forefront of their fields. It’s something that makes our programs unique and helps us educate leaders who will create positive, lasting change in their communities. I hope you’ll join us on September 2 for this exciting event. It’s just one of the many ways we benefit from being in the Best City Ever.

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On the Start of the New Year

David Donahue

David Donahue
Director, Leo T. McCarthy Center

The same week that I started as the new Director of the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, I finished reading Teacher Wars, Dana Goldstein’s history of the teaching profession in the United States.

Teacher Wars

Her chapter on recent, data driven educational reform described a charter school classroom that motivated children with a song about why they were learning: “cause knowledge is power, and power is money, and I want it!” (Goldstein, 2014). The same chapter reported that teachers were discouraged from focusing on unquantifiable goals, like developing students’ sense of citizenship, no matter how worthy those goals might be.

The McCarthy Center’s vision to create a just and humane world by preparing ethical public servants stands in stark contrast to Goldstein’s depressing vignettes. As I learn about USF faculty creating classroom experiences that transform students’ mission in life and about staff developing community engaged programs that make a real difference to individuals and organizations in San Francisco and the world, I couldn’t be more optimistic that the classrooms described by Goldstein do not have to shape our civic destiny.

ACE classroom

I am convinced that the McCarthy Center’s work to prepare students for public service is more crucial at this moment in our nation’s educational history than ever. I couldn’t be more motivated, inspired, or proud to work with the staff, affiliated faculty, community partners, and board members of the McCarthy Center to shape education that prepares students for participating in democratic life and leading lives of purpose. I look forward to a year — and years — of working at USF to support teaching and learning based on the Jesuit tradition of education for the common social good, not merely individual financial benefit. I look forward to meeting all of you who share this vision and welcome your participation.

Reference: Goldstein, Dana.  The Teacher Wars:  A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession.  (New York: Random House, 2014), p. 203.

Reflections from a USF MoPA Alum: Collaborate, Communicate, Have Courage

Alia Al-Sharif headshot
Alia Al-Sharif
Senior Project Manager, Barbary Coast Consulting
Master of Public Affairs ’12

When I reflect back on my experience as a graduate student at the University of San Francisco, I can’t help but think about how fast the last two and a half years since graduation have flown by.  My mind immediately starts thinking about how incredibly fortunate I am to apply everything I learned in graduate school to my job. People usually stop and stare blankly when I say that, but it’s true! From media pitches to developing authentic community engagement strategies, the Masters of Public Affairs (MoPA) program was where I cut my teeth in San Francisco politics. The MoPA program also helped me strengthen vital skill sets that have been crucial to me as a working professional.

As students we were pushed outside of our comfort zone to collaborate and work closely with others in every course and even outside of the classroom. Throughout our coursework we were challenged to compellingly communicate our thoughts, whether it be in our writing or our presentations. We also needed to have the courage to stand up and voice our opinion on controversial topics and to defend our work.

These three skills came up time and time again in the program, and come up time and time again in my role as Senior Project Manager at Barbary Coast Consulting. As a political consultant, collaborating with colleagues is instrumental to our work. It’s not about who comes up with the best idea, but how can we work together to develop a concept and strategy that will successfully achieve our goals. I’m challenged to think outside of the box to creatively communicate complex topics and translate these messages across audiences. Even when having an unpopular opinion; when you know it’s the right one you must have the courage to share it and believe in everything you do and say 100 percent of the time.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to have worked closely with a student currently enrolled in the MoPA program, Jasmine Conrad.

Alia Al-Sharif blog 2Jasmine has been working at Barbary Coast Consulting this summer for her graduate internship.The thread that ties us together is one of passion, purpose and pride of doing things differently and wanting to make a positive impact in a city we care so deeply about. It has been such a joy to work with her! I’m grateful to the MoPA program, its staff, its faculty, and its students, for being a community where we can all rely on each other. We’ll continue to collaborate, communicate, and have the courage to leave this world better then we found it through the professional fields we all enter. When you know someone is a graduate of the MoPA program or another program at  the Leo T. McCarthy Center, you know you’re working with someone who has as much of a commitment to serve the common good as you do — and that’s truly incredible!

Watch Alia along with two other recent MoPA graduates here.

Alia Al-Sharif

Summer 2015 Immersion in Nicaragua

Hana Bottger
Hana Mori Böttger
Assistant Professor of Architecture & Community Design
University of San Francisco

For two weeks immediately following the Spring 2015 semester, I led an immersion course to Nicaragua with 7 University of San Francisco students. We stayed with homestay families in the city of León, near the Pacific coast, and traveled daily to the village community of Goyena. The course, ARCD 348: Nicaragua Outreach Summer Immersion, was interdisciplinary, consisting of students from Architecture & Community Design, Environmental Studies, Nursing, Physics and Psychology.

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We were hosted by a local Non-Governmental Organization called ViviendasLeón, with whom the Architecture & Community Design program has had many years of fruitful collaboration both during the regular semesters and during summer immersions.

Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti, and is located in the very center of Central America. For being a relatively small, poor country, Nicaragua has had an enormous presence in world politics especially in the latter half of the 20th century due to a revolution and subsequent power struggles. For the last couple of decades there have been a great number of Non-Profit and Non-Governmental Organizations who have visited and provided aid to impoverished and displaced people, with varying degrees of success.

ViviendasLeón differs from other NGOs due to its focus on human capacity development. Many organizations, including the Nicaraguan government, have come through villages such as Goyena with direct donations of building materials, clothing and shoes, and water well construction, but have not provided people with any methods of empowerment. ViviendasLeón works toward fulfilling this very important need with community-building programs such as skills training and small business seeding.

On a typical day during our immersion, after a hearty breakfast with our homestay families, we met first at the ViviendasLeón office for a Spanish lesson and debriefing on the goals for that day.

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Then, we would hop into our air-conditioned van (the only air-conditioned place we would experience!) for the 20-minute ride out to Goyena, the rural community where we would be working. It was very warm (95-98 °F) and humid so it was not easy to contribute a lot of manual labor for many hours at a time. Still, we managed to make ourselves useful as best we could, drinking enormous amounts of water and taking breaks in the shade. The climate was only one of the constant reminders of our status as fish-out-of-water visitors.

Prior to our arrival, ViviendasLeón had scheduled a number of small projects that they knew we could help with right away. On the first day we set to work at both – rebuilding a toilet facility at the elementary school, and preparing gardens with post-and-string structures for planting. These gardens are part of a successful vegetable cooperative program which has engaged many women in the community to learn farming and business skills in order to sell their vegetables at local markets and earn some income for their families. Most men find employment in neighboring sugar cane fields, some local construction, and even abroad in Costa Rica, Mexico, or the United States. Some of the women who are left behind have become highly engaged in small businesses such as a honey bee-keeping cooperative and sewing, empowering them to not only make changes in their personal economics but also in their family structures.

In both of these initial projects, USF students worked directly alongside local community members, receiving instruction and learning resourceful tips about how to accomplish these jobs, as well as entertaining each other with limited Spanish or English skills.

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A typical morning was concluded by an invitation to lunch – hand-cooked over a wood stove by a local family. Delicious!

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After lunch came another set of activities, which saw the group occasionally splitting up into smaller teams. We were asked to assist with the afternoon arts & crafts enrichment program for children, which took place at the community center in the middle of the village, a building designed with the community and partially built by USF students! Working with the children was very rewarding as communication (often via humor) was quite easy and immediately satisfying.

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After two afternoons with the children, and some conversations with the art instructor, we decided to write up more lesson plans for activities that would use simple and inexpensive materials. Tapping into our collective experiences of art, craft and science activities as children, we brainstormed and then wrote up step-by-step illustrated instructions for the teacher. One element we were careful to incorporate was embedding a lesson of care into the activity. For example, the creation of small paper star ornaments required careful folding of thin strips of paper and getting the angles even enough into a five-sided shape to become a well-proportioned star in the end.

One of the main motivations for the “lesson of care” emphasis was the fact that these children were all from a small neighborhood within Goyena, called Nueva Vida. This area is unique in that the resident families have been displaced from their original lands a great deal, and now live in close proximity because they no longer own any land that could be cultivated with crops or husbandry. More than other surrounding communities, the people of Nueva Vida have been victims of non-sustainable charity efforts by a variety of organizations prior to the arrival of ViviendasLeón. Over time the community has learned to depend on these direct donations and have stayed in very poor conditions without learning how to improve their situation or gain employable skills. They have also become known as the community least likely to attend capacity training or informational workshops, and seemed to be the most fractured. Their main “oppressor” is a huge sugar cane company called Ingenio San Antonio, which own all of the land surrounding Goyena. They fumigate by airplane right over their fields which are directly next to the village, and every time they do, residents are sickened to the point of throwing up. They also know that their well water is being contaminated by the chemicals but they have no choice but to pump it daily and drink it. It may be too difficult or even impossible to directly influence the sugar cane company, but one thing we can slowly do with daily results is to help the people of Goyena develop a stronger sense of community so they can feel more empowered and eventually become more organized.

So, after our first half-week of observations and discussions with ViviendasLeón leaders, we decided to work on two things – developing a culture of care, and helping young people to attain habits of community engagement early (which are linked, and both lead to empowerment which, at its best, will allow them to stand up against their oppressors). To this end we created two things – one was the set of care-oriented lesson plans for the kids’ art/craft activities. The other was an environmental health survey, which was carefully worded to link their environmental health concerns with a need to engage with their fellow community members. We talked to about 40 young people between ages 15 and 25, and almost all of them identified the fumigation and chemicals used by the sugar cane company as bad for their health, and almost all of them also identified that they themselves would like to participate more in community activities such as cleaning public areas and learning about environmental hazards. The next step is to design and implement these programs, as well as to secure more investment from the 3 or 4 people we talked to who were clearly energized and had strong leadership qualities. It was very exciting work, highly rewarding to talk to these individuals at length!

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The trip was certainly not without its share of pure fun, as well. In our weekend between the two work weeks, we managed to fit in several significant outings including a day trip to the beautiful colonial town of Granada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, a highly energized baseball game between the top rival teams of León and Managua, and a hot dusty hike up the side of Cerro Negro Volcano, rewarded by an even dustier descent by “volcano boarding”.

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By all accounts, the trip was highly memorable and even life-changing for our students. According to their final reflection essays, their greatest concern was whether they had done enough, had they made any difference in the lives of the people we visited. As some time passes and the lessons of this immersion trip sink in, I trust they will realize that the greater point of this experience was its effect on their future endeavors – everything they tackle from now on will benefit from their having a little more perspective to contribute.

Live. Learn. Serve.

Traveling the world with the University of San Francisco

Isabella headshot

Isabella Gonzalez Potter
2015 Privett Global Scholars Participant
Cochabamba, Bolivia

Outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia at the Parque Ecoturistico Pairumani outside of Cochabamba the mountains bore a tremendous resemblance to the Catalinas and reminded me of the landscape of Tucson, Arizona where I was born and raised. It is ironic to travel thousands of miles to find yourself in a place that feels remarkably like home, yet foreign at the same time.

As someone who is a double major in Environmental Science and Latin American Studies I have a strong sense of belonging here, because I am blessed to have the opportunity to study my two passions in the field. As the child of two immigrants the chance to study in Latin America is a homecoming. My father immigrated to the United States at the age of 16 from Altotonilco El Alto, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico to work for Ford. My mother is an American who was born in Lima, Peru and was raised throughout South America because my grandfather was an accountant for the United Fruit Company. Thus the creation of my last names, Gonzalez Potter, and myself always an interesting experience to explain.

Through my participation at USF this past year I have been able to travel near and far. I have been on countless adventures throughout the Bay Area, I have seen the Galapagos Islands where Darwin came up with the theory of Evolution and Guayaquil, Ecuador (through the Biology Department), I have experienced snow in Chicago (I attended the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, USHLI, with Latinas Unidas), I have been to Washington, D.C. and stood at the steps of the white house (during DIAS an annual conference for my sorority, Lambda Theta Nu), and now I am in Cochabamba, Bolivia. But what this past year meant most of all, is that I rediscovered happiness through myself.

The first night with my new host family I was treated like the daughter they had always had. After waking up from a short nap after a week of not sleeping, the mom, Leny asked if I was ready to go to the youngest son Ivan’s kinder performance. After a quick rubbing of my eyes I smiled and agreed. We hopped into a trufi, Bolivia’s version of a taxi, and rode a few miles until we arrived at the school.

I was overwhelmed by the quantity of people – hundreds of children accompanied by mothers and fathers who were dressed in everything from traditional aymara and quechua clothes of the Andes, to young parents adorned in the latest Hollister and Aeropostale that was de moda. The show eventually began and the first group of kindergarteners descended upon the audience fully dressed in indigenous Bolivian clothing. They were paired boy to girl and they began to dance in sync with the music. Sparklers were joined by young girls who came out in outfits that remained me of carnival and danced behind a group of kids who couldn’t have been older than four.

As the night continued on I found myself looking into the sky. I couldn’t help but think of how we all look at the same moon, no matter where we are on the planet, there is only one. I thought about all of my loved ones back home and wondered if any of them were looking at it too. The mountains in the distance reminded me of Arizona and the Catalinas I would stare at every day when I drove to high school, or rode my bike, or went for a walk, or took a weekend trip with my family. All of those rides when I would just look out into some place that was both so close, yet seemed so far. For whatever reason I feel that I am in the right place at the right time, it is all meant to be.

Isabella blog post photo

During our first week here, at the Parque Ecoturistico Pairumani I learned that I should have brought more than one bottle of water, and wearing Vans was a terrible idea.

Throwing up my sorority’s “L” in a foreign country where I am continuing to learn about myself and the world around me, exemplifies where I am currently at. My only hope for the future is that I allow myself to be fully open to whatever comes my way.

Live. Learn. Serve.

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Reflection from the Martín-Baró Scholars Program Director

David Holler

David Holler
Associate Professor, Rhetoric and Language
Director, Martín-Baró Scholars Program

Only now in mid-summer am I able to truly take stock of the impressive collaboration that took place over an entire academic year between the Martín-Baró Scholars and the Faithful Fools. First, let me say that the entire process (described above) could never have worked as well without the compassionate and generous cooperation of the Faithful Fools—and Sam Dennison in particular. Not only are the Faithful Fools sui generis, they are sui generous!

What made it work was ostensibly simple—total commitment to patient, compassionate, experiential learning on the part of the Fools—and absolute faith that first-year students could rise to the challenge of our project—both in conducting poet interviews and in book preparation. However, as anyone can tell you who has ever worked in “community-engaged learning” (that’s the term I far prefer to “service learning”), genuine collaboration is anything but simple.

It began with summer meetings more than a year ago to chart out the arc of our year together. Both Kara Knafelc, co-instructor of MBS, are so grateful that Sam and Carmen Barsody of the Fools allotted so much time long before the students ever stepped foot on campus to plan the logistics to ensure a meaningful learning experience. It is little wonder, then, that the Fools were awarded the McCarthy Center’s Community Partner of the Year Award, which they richly deserve.

And while we had to adapt our plans on several occasions, as is necessary with any complex project, the lines of communication between MBS and the Fools remained more than open when scheduling changes became imperative. Students also adapted admirably to technical and software challenges when they arose. (Producing 11 edited interviews and 190 pages of poetry is, as you might guess, anything but easy to manage, even with a group of committed students who work for an entire year.) I am so proud of the immense efforts of the MBS students who were clearly driven by more than simply a deadline during the last 6 weeks of class. They understood that they were honoring people’s voices and lives through their work, and they wanted to get every detail and nuance correct.

Another aspect that helped immensely: Sam and Carmen came frequently to class to discuss details in-depth—and all the while they listened to and prioritized student voices and input, allowing students an amazing amount of creative and artistic freedom. These sessions took many hours—they were not just perfunctory visits. Sam, for example, spent quite a lot of time with us going over video recording options and techniques, as well as time in our CIT lab on manuscript preparation using InDesign (which every student had a hand in learning).

As a class we spent numerous sessions on site with the Fools (at least 10 sessions) and I echo Sam’s sentiment expressed above—and the students’ sentiment—that even more time there would have been ideal in terms of experiential learning.

Also crucial to our entire year was the incommensurable experience of the Street Retreats, which the Fools have now organized on a monthly basis for more than a decade. And while 5,000 or more people have walked alone for hours without wallet or phone through the Tenderloin’s streets, no two walks, no two experiences, have ever been the same. Our students were invited to participate in a Street Retreat in September 2014 as a kind of orientation, as a way of understanding that the Fools’ home on Hyde St. is indeed an extension of the streets. (Of course Kara and I also walked, and also took away valuable lessons from the neighborhood as well.) We finished our year with another Street Retreat in late April, at the semester’s crescendo, and it was clear in our final reflection that our MBS students had matured immensely. (The Street Retreats, I hope, will become the subject of a much more in-depth blog entry in the future.)

If there’s any advice I’d like to impart to others working in community-engaged learning, it is simply that there are no shortcuts to creating the conditions for a meaningful experience for students. Planning, I believe, shouldn’t be done primarily from campus. Get in as many meetings as you can off-campus, preferably on-site with the community partner long before class begins. Enjoy each other’s company and take your time. It really doesn’t feel like work when we get to share our enthusiasm and compassion and love of learning alongside the Fools.

As Sam (and Carol Burnett long before her) said, “I’m so glad we’ve had this time together.”

Faithful Fools and David Holler

This blog is a companion piece to the Faithful Fools article posted earlier in the week. Read it here.

A Year’s Work Together with Faithful Fools and Martín-Baró Scholars

Sam_Faithful_FoolsSam Dennison
Community Advocate, Educator / Faithful Fools Street Ministry

For the past year, Faithful Fools Street Ministry and the Martín-Baró Scholars, a year-long live/learn community of freshmen students at USF, have worked, learned, and served together. During the year, the students shared two classes and one large service-learning project with Faithful Fools. At the end of the school year, we talked about what worked and what didn’t. The one thing that the students, faculty, and the Fools all said was “Our best days of learning were the days we worked together on-site at the Fools [headquarters].”

Our service-learning project was bringing together 5 volumes of our poetry & arts anthology, Living in the Land of the Dead into one comprehensive anthology of anthologies. This project served the Fools and it served the learning outcomes for the students’ literature and rhetoric/communications requirements. We Fools, were a bit overwhelmed when we realized that the poetry of Tenderloin Poets, curated by Tenderloin editors, and published on the Fools’ office printer had achieved the status of college literature textbook. We write and produce these journals for the sake of passion, as a human vocalization of the panoply of emotions that ebb and flow through the streets, but we never thought that someone at a University would one day include our poetry in a syllabus or that students would read it with the same respect they give Carl Sandburg or Alice Walker.

But the Martín-Baró students did read our poetry and then they went to work. They talked with the Tenderloin poets and journal editors, and they imagined what this anthology of anthologies would look like. One student said, “I read the poetry, I talked with the poets, and then I felt like I was living the poem from the inside out.” Another student saw the poetry as a map of the Tenderloin and in that moment began the design process for the new volume. The students saw the poems as intersections between human experiences of hope, fear, and tolerance and this place called the Tenderloin. And so it is that the sections of the new volume holds poems that belong at the crossroads of “Lust and Ellis,” and “Tolerance and Larkin.” This new anthology is a work of art worthy of these Tenderloin poets.

So, yes, a very successful year, but what made it so successful was the fact that we spent a lot of time together and much of that time was here at Faithful Fools. The implications of this has taken a while to become clear. We worked with other service-learning classes this year and with varying degrees of success. What we have discovered is that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time students spend at the Fools and the success of the service-learning.

We also learned that even when we ask students to come to us, if it is not facilitated either by the syllabus or by the instructor, it sometimes doesn’t happen until too late. Students, as we all know, have many motivations for prioritizing what they do (just like faculty, just like Fools, just like anyone else in our culture), but one way to ensure that students have the time to form relationships necessary for success is allocate class time to meet with community partners, and better yet for the syllabus to identify times to go to the community partner site.

Oh, I know this is a lot to ask. But it is the working together, the time spent on site, and the relationships that students build with the community and the people that best serves both academic and service-learning outcomes. As experiential learning develops as a strong partner to academic modes of learning, we will find that institutional policies will need to change to facilitate student learning outside of the classroom. We will also find our roles as community partners requiring that we set aside time to get to know students and facilitate learning — for them and for us.

Faithful Fools

Faithful Fools is USF’s Leo T. McCarthy Center’s Community Partner 2015 award winner

Being the “underdog” of the McCarthy Fellows

Jaileez Campos

Jaileez Campos
2015 McCarthy Fellow
Department of Housing and Community Development

I have recently graduated from the University of San Francisco in May 2015. I received my degree in B.S. Biology with Minors in Chemistry & Neuroscience. With a scientific focus all throughout my undergraduate career, how did I end up becoming one of the McCarthy Fellows in Sacramento? During my last semester at USF, I began to contemplate various career choices. I always thought I could “change the world from here” by being a physician and healing the lives of people. Throughout the semester during my sociology class, it dawned on me that there might be another career out there for me that would allow me to heal the lives of people on a regional scale. Healing the lives of a large regional group of people through public health policy would help improve the physical, mental, and socioeconomic health. Prior to my sociology class, I was exposed to public health policy through my internship at UCSF. Thus, when I heard about the McCarthy Fellowship in Sacramento, I applied because it was an opportunity for me to explore a career in health career. Through my interactions with the female participants from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, I felt angry about the socioeconomic gap that exists in American society. The socioeconomic gap was the cause of health repercussions, such as elevated stress levels, increased risk of obesity, shorter life span, suppression of immune system, and malnutrition. At the start of college, I used to strive to make myself better. Now, I realize that I can improve myself by striving to make my surrounding environment better. Thus, I was drawn to the McCarthy Fellows program because I found it to be an opportunity for me to grow by incorporating public service, public health, and public outreach.

One of the biggest challenges that I may face during this program is being the “underdog”. Given my science-based background, I need to familiarize myself with California politics more so than others in my cohort. Previously, I have abstained from politics because I thought it was “too complex”. But, politics does not differ too much from the biological sciences. Nothing is really complex—it can easily be broken down into simple components. It is through the understanding of the simple components and their relationships to one another that we understand its complexity. My scientific method of analytical thinking may not be applicable in the political realm. Thus, I will have to find a way to either alter my old ways of critical and analytical thinking, or find a new method. I need to familiarize myself with the new jargon, acronyms, and writing styles. Thus, it may take awhile for me to fully understand a topic or document. As of right now, the biggest challenge is overcoming the overwhelming feeling of being a “beginner”…

I am currently working at the Department of Housing & Community Development (HCD) at the Division of Financial Assistance (DFA) branch. I have been analyzing fiscal data from several different affordable low-income housing projects throughout California and determining strategies to preserve affordability. Another project that I am doing this summer is I am working on a geographic information system (GIS) platform for HCD. GIS will map the housing project, then other data can be laid on top of this map to help provide information about the correlation about housing, demographics of residents, environment, and public health. I am currently gathering public health data about the residents and the housing projects, such as the distance away from health clinics, hospitals, and a grocery store that is a participating in food stamp programs. GIS will allow HCD to plan, develop, and improve new and existing housing projects. Through my projects this summer, I have the opportunity to exemplify how housing is a social determinant of health.

I hope to learn more about the how housing and community development is linked to public health in California. My personal goal is to feel more optimistic about society by contributing to projects that can help influence public policy and politics in California. The focus on fair and affordable housing is a huge focus and all-eyes are on HCD, especially after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling about “disparate impact” in housing. By improving California, it can serve as a model state of positive change for the rest of the United States of America.

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San Francisco Pride 2015

Andrea Wise headshot

Andrea Wise
Assistant Director of Community-Engaged Learning
Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good
Co-chair, USFCA LGBTQ Caucus for Faculty/Staff

For the past three years, I have had the pleasure of co-chairing the USF LGBTQ Caucus for Faculty/Staff, which grew USF’s presence in the SF Pride Parade from 75 people in 2013 to 200 participants this year. Our spirited marchers are green and gold-clad USF faculty, staff, students, alums, and their families who are committed to the Jesuit calling of respecting the dignity of every person. The group shows what a richly diverse and loving community we have at USF. Given the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling, the Pride parade was even more fun than usual, with people holding “Love Wins” signs, dressing up as the Supreme Court Justices, and glittering up every corner!

In 2013, Ammon Corl (Assistant Professor, Biology) and I voluntarily stepped into the LGBTQ Caucus co-chairs positions to direct a loose network of 200+ faculty/staff aimed at promoting LGBTQ scholarship, community, and social justice on campus. I was excited, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I saw it as a great opportunity to apply what I learn and teach in the Leo T. McCarthy Center – How do you make change? Who do you work with to do so? What do “equity” and “social justice” really mean and look like?

As co-chair, I have had the opportunity to work with faculty, staff, students, and administrators to bring the campus community together to address LGBTQ equity issues. These issues include: successfully advocating for gender inclusive restrooms and gender inclusive housing, creating a way for students to easily change names on university documents, adding gender to the university nondiscrimination policy, and more. It has been an amazing leadership experience, teaching me about the importance of dialogue, trust, allyship, patience, and collaboration.

While I’m hopeful that now we can just say “marriage” instead of “gay marriage,” there’s more to be done, (read more here: Give me a shout if you want to use what you’ve learned from the Leo T. McCarthy Center to help me in the movement… We’ll be at it long after the rainbow Facebook profile pictures go out of style.


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To view the rest of our Pride photos by photographer Julio Cesar Martinez, visit our Flickr album and share with your friends! If you were at the Pride parade tag us in your photo to be featured in our Flickr album!

First Adventures in India

Kristian Balgobin 2015 Privett Global ScholarsKristian Balgobin
2015 Privett Global Scholar
Udaipur, India

My initial reaction getting off of the plane in India was complete shock. It was very reminiscent of documentaries and Bollywood movies. The cars/bikes beeped their horns every four seconds, eight lanes in the wake of a two lane distinction, and more. I was being stared at constantly, overcharged for most services, and the food was not sitting well in my stomach. Then I transitioned into the village. If I thought I was in shock before, this was my wake-up call. All the facilities were outside, and I took showers with at least four spiders, a plethora of bugs, and mold. The toilets welcomed flies and insects from the sewers, the electricity never worked, and I used the facility with the flashlight from my cellphone. I said many times “I cannot do this.”

Luckily, my experience began to change by day three. I was known in the village as “curly boy” because of my hair, and most people thought I was from Africa, because “you can’t be from America, they are all white.” But in the village, although I was different, I was welcomed with open arms, and open-ended questions. The people took a genuine curiosity in getting to know me and forced me to unlock a level on Hindi I did not know I was capable of.

From an American standard, it would be impossible to thrive in the village, but I feel like I am privileged, as the amount of food they eat is enough for 20 people per person, and the love and affection for each other is overwhelming, something unseen in the cities of U.S and even elsewhere in India. Most of all their genuine ability to just “be” – be who they are and comfortable in their skin. I am finding it difficult to understand why these amazing, resilient people are the “untouchables,” when they work 12 hours a day and manage to take care of their families and be hospitable hosts without much help from the Global market. They should be the framework for development, not the other way around.

Live. Learn. Serve.