Spicing things up in Campus Kitchen

My first week of Heston internship flies by so fast. It has been a busy but very exciting week for me. This week, I spent most of my time working at the campus kitchen with Eric to get used to how the kitchen operates. Our first day of work at the CK was on Wednesday, which is the day we have the most work during the entire week. We started at 2pm going around town for our pick up at Servo, Kennie’s and Seven Eleven not with a car but with a red wagon we got from IRC office. I have to be honest that it’s not a pleasure to walk up a steep road with a wagon. After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon making Meals on Wheels for the Senior Center and cooking hot meal for Circle dinner which took place from 6pm to 8pm on every Wednesday night at SCCAP office. Although it was our first hands-on experience at the kitchen, everything turned out just fine. I was so glad to have our 18-year-old volunteer, Kyle Kimple, to help us out that day. He’s going to be volunteering at almost everything shift during summer so I’m excited to get him trained to be as “professional” as us in the kitchen. The three of us had the same very basic background on cooking. However, we pulled it off by contributing a little bit of what each of us knows about cooking. In the end, we presented a dinner with meat ball and spaghetti, salad with lettuce from Everblossom CSA farm and tomatoes from Gettysburg Farmers’ Market that Eric bought that morning. For dessert we had coconut cake, blueberry pie and a lot of fruit from Servo’s donation. I was happy that everyone seemed to enjoy their food and that we made just the right amount of food. My goal is to avoid making spaghetti for Circle dinner from now on.
The highlight of my week must be Circle Meeting that Wednesday evening. I was so surprised at how deep and honest the conversations in Circle could be. At first, I thought Circle is just an organization dealing with systematic problem. However, Circle is more than that. There is a strong sense of community in Circle group. Everyone in Circle has become friends and family to each other. Thus, Circle has been a safe place for everyone to share their stories and exchange thoughts. Circle is all about creating relationship. Indeed, working your way out of poverty is a risky path in which you will keep losing benefits as you make more money. Thus, support from friends is important to keep you moving forwards. Another interesting point about Circle is that everybody attends Circle because they want to be there. Tonya, the director of Circle, kept asking the 5 new members to ask themselves if they really want to be there. Indeed, unless you want to be ahead of poverty, unless you are determined to commit to do whatever it takes, you will never win the battle against poverty.
On Friday morning, Eric and I spent an hour at the Senior Center playing card games and chatting with them. That was my first experience with seniors in America. Well, it was exciting but a little bit scary at the same time. Our card game got so intense that one senior, Helen, accused me of cheating by winning the first time I played. Everything seemed fine after the third game and she got ahead of me. I’ll be visiting the center a lot. Hope my relationship with Helen will be better.
Fun fact: For one moment on Thursday morning, Eric forgot that he’s a vegetarian and ate a chicken nugget haha.

~ Uyen