Meet Claire, Create Summer Staff
Claire’s parents were talking about college and life after college one day and Bayshore Christian Ministries came up, something she had never heard them mention before. She learned that her dad had been part of the founding group (back in the 1980’s) and her mom had volunteered there a few years later. As a recent high school graduate living in Southern California and preparing for college, Claire was contemplating what to do with her summer, thinking about the achievement gap and racial justice issues affecting the nation. The next thing she knew, she overheard her mom on the phone talking with a BCM staff about the possibility of an internship. Her mom turned to her and said, “Do you want to go to BCM this summer?” “What? When?” Claire replied. “Next week,” was the surprising answer. A whirlwind of days later, Claire was in the family’s van on her way to East Palo Alto with her suitcase and her bike, ready for her first real job and her first experience living away from home.
The beginning was awkward (it always is!): meeting new people, figuring out her role, navigating cultural differences and how to process them, and learning how to operate safely in-person during a pandemic. Claire is courageous and persistent and by the end of the summer much had changed. When BCM needed someone to step up and teach a classroom for the last two weeks of the program, Claire was ready and willing and enjoyed the opportunity to have her own classroom. Claire values a wholistic approach to education, and in addition to the formal STEAM content, she added in spelling and geography. Students who couldn’t identify a single state on a map could name more than a dozen, including capitals, after Claire’s mini lessons.
Another student was struggling
with spelling but was a quick learner. After a few sessions on understanding spelling concepts and rules, Claire spied him spelling almost every word correctly when she looked over his shoulder at a project he was working on. Claire also saw students opening up and gaining confidence; one student notably started out very shy but eventually become comfortable and would laugh, have fun and ask questions.
Claire repeatedly saw God in several of the people he placed around her during her summer at BCM. Waniya, the Create Program Manager and her supervisor, was always available, responsive, kind and gracious. Having such a positive experience for a first job helped Claire feel hopeful about future job opportunities. God also sent another co-worker, Angie, a second year Create veteran, who was welcoming, helpful and a fellow Pokemon Go player.
Just a few days before Claire began her drive to East Palo Alto, BCM was still trusting God for a host family for Claire. God didn’t just provide the basics, he provided abundantly. Rajesh and Yasi were the perfect match and invited Claire into their home and their lives, including Indian food, Bollywood films and their work doing community organizing around racial justice. And their dog, Kendi, who reveled in the extra attention from Claire. "They were a miracle, the absolute best hosts I could ask for," remarked Claire with genuine joy.
As Claire prepares for college, the impact of Covid looms large. She had plans to transfer and study abroad but now faces uncertainty about this possibility in addition to increased costs (and debt). As she prepares to navigate an unknown future, she is grateful for the confidence she gained at BCM, living away from home and working her first job. Who knows what the future holds, but Summer 2021 at BCM? Possibly!