We are Public Allies (Part 2)

Read: We are Public Allies (Part 1)

For many of the Allies this year, we came from out of state with no connection to Miami other than the PA program. Collaboration and asset-based thinking quickly became necessary to navigate the city. We worked together to find things to do, places to live, things to see. We built on our assets, relying on our Miami natives to give us the ins and outs and working together to ensure that work didn’t take over our lives.

Collaboration isn’t just for capacity building at our placements or building team service projects, it’s for when things get rough and you need someone to balance you.

It’s for when you need a smile and they have an extra joke. Collaboration is motivation. It means saying this is where I am headed, this is where you are headed, and this is how we can strengthen and support each other to get where we want to be.

As Allies, we have learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses, leadership styles, hidden talents, biggest fears, and wildest dreams. Being asset-based in our daily lives benefits us individually. I know who to call on if I need a photographer, a therapy session, to discuss the rights of women, or figure out what type of butterfly I caught.

Now what about being a continuous learner?

Allies learn from each other every day. From a sense of fashion to the causes being fought for in various countries, the Public Allies of Miami are well informed.

We share knowledge, we debate, we learn random facts, we present new perspectives on common issues. This is how we learn.

Our program managers work hard to provide us with a variety of information during our training sessions but more than that, they create a free and safe space were we can discuss any issue. They understand that it’s not just the presenters that we learn from; in fact, I am pretty sure they only bring in the presenters as a catalyst to fuel our discussions. It’s the difference between theory and applied knowledge.

We are growing as people, personally and professionally. We are a family and family pushes you forward. We learn from each other, we see the impact these lessons have in our lives and the lives of our peers so when we do go into the community the connection is there, we get it!

The less you learn, the less you grow; and the less you grow the less you can empower yourself or others.

Location is everything, and what better place to be than the sunny beaches of Miami. But, if you ask one of the Allies the benefit of being here, it’s not only the sun and the sand that are great assets to Miami. It’s the fact that we don’t have to leave our own neighborhoods to experience new cultures.

I don’t have to wait to get my passport stamped to eat authentic Cuban or fly across the ocean to take photos of exotic plants and animals. I can call my fellow Allies and take a trip to Little Havana or step outside and visit one of the many botanical gardens. I can experience the beauty of Haitian art or take a trip to the past in one of the many historical neighborhoods Miami offers.

I realized that in my first year down hear what made the city unbearable was I wasn’t engaged, I had no new experiences in a city so rich in culture and history.

Public Allies has changed that for me. I asked fellow Allies to give me there input on what they’ve gotten from the program so far. The title of this blog series was taken from one response.

Many of the ideas I expressed are based on the thoughts and conversations we have shared. One of the Allies said:

I get to view Miami in a perspective not many get to see as well as work with brilliant minded people who are out to make a difference.

Public Allies forces you to look deeper, to accept not only the differences of others but to accept your own differences. Those differences make us unique, they make us human.

What does all of this mean to the communities we serve? It means they get a group of people who are dedicated and determined to making a change. A group of young people that embrace diversity and revel in the wealth of knowledge housed in the communities we serve, just waiting to be tapped into.

As Allies we are future leaders; leaders who will be capable of compassion and understanding and who won’t hesitate to acknowledge where and when we need help and reach out to fill that gap. Public Allies Miami is a family. Once a P.A.M. always a P.A.M.

Post Written By:
De’Azia Baldwin
Public Ally
Butler Center for Service and Leadership
Office of Civic and Community Engagement


We are Public Allies (Part 1)

Who are you?

Where are you going?

How do you get there?

These life questions become more and more difficult to answer in the midst of an ever changing global community.

Finding your niche, knowing what road to travel and, most importantly, having faith in yourself to follow your dreams are imperative components of any good leader.

But there is the hanging question: Can I really lead? I, like many of my fellow Public Allies, had a strong sense of urgency to figure out life and become this awesome person everyone else said they saw in me. But how do I get there?

I moved to Miami for graduate school and after my first year I was miserable. I hated the city, realized the graduate program wasn’t for me, and longed to return home. As I began to contemplate leaving the city, a friend of mine handed me a flier for Public Allies (PA) Miami. DING! A light turned on in me. As I read about the program, my interest and respect for the organization grew. I applied and was accepted into the 2012-2013 PA Miami class.

Despite the challenges, this is one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far.

Public Allies Miami

Often times my fellow Allies and I get together and talk about life, our placements, our next steps, and our passions. I stopped to ponder over my work as a Public Ally in Miami and discovered how instrumental this program has been in helping me shape and define my ambitions.

Many people join AmeriCorps programs during transitional periods in life. Rather than sitting stagnant or wandering aimlessly through life, we seek to fulfill our sense of commitment to the greater good or take advantage of the opportunity to travel to other countries and become enriched by new cultures.

But what about all of the diverse cultures here? What about the commitment to myself?

After talking to my fellow Allies, I realized that one of the things that resonated with all of us about the program is the opportunity for and emphasis on self-growth.

Public Allies is not just about how you can help others, it’s about how you can help others by helping yourself.

Our five core values are: collaboration, continuous learning, diversity and inclusion, asset-based thinking, and integrity. Each of the Allies has their own story, area of interest, and innate talents. We are a diverse group. But what bonds us together is the sense of home we have found with each other.

I have found that the Miami Allies are some of the most inclusive people I have ever met and we enjoy the diversity we share.

Allies are accountable to each other. We respect each other and value each other’s insight. Aristotle said, “it is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” You cannot win a debate with a PA Miami member because we are too strong minded and quick witted but, you should debate us because we will hold you to your beliefs.

The Miami Ally experience is helping all of us to define our personal values. The activities, the training, the coaching sessions, the companionship strengthens who we are as people. When Paul Schmitz, the CEO of Public Allies, came to visit us, we discussed what it was that made a bad leader, the answer is lack of integrity.

What you do, how you think and feel, and your opinions are all a part of your leadership style.

One of the most valuable aspects of the program is the opportunity for the Ally to step back and say, “this is how I want to be perceived, this is my self-image, and this is what I need to work on to make sure I’m projecting that to other.”

Look for Part 2 next week!

Post Written By:
De’Azia Baldwin
Public Ally
Butler Center for Service and Leadership
Office of Civic and Community Engagement

STRIVE Community Opens Doors

My time as a STRIVE member and Community Assistant changed my belief in a common misconception many people have about community service: those that receive the service benefit more than those who serve. I now know both parties have equal benefits.

The Serving Together Reaching Integrity, Values & Engagement Community (STRIVE)  is a living and learning community coordinated by the Butler Center for Service and Leadership and Pearson Residential College. Participants in the STRIVE program are committed to civic engagement, volunteer service and leadership endeavors. Residents participating in this highly selective community commit to a lifestyle of a number of service and leadership hours each week, a mentoring relationship, for-credit academic classes and a number of shared experiences and campus programs.

My perception of community service first shifted during a STRIVE day of service hosted by Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) at a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) clinic. STRIVE members consulted undocumented immigrants about the paperwork they needed to include in their differed action application.

Through conversations with applicants and SWER volunteers, I gained a basic understanding of the complexity of the current immigration climate in the United States.

In just one morning, I explored a social issue I previously never imagined pursuing.

Since that morning, my curiosity for immigration issues has been impossible to contain. This semester, I enrolled in an immigration policy class and am the associate producer of “Not Even a Number” – a documentary about the impact of DACA in South Florida.

Volunteering these few hours with SWER has changed my life. The SWER volunteers I have become friends with have served as invaluable resources for my immigration class and “Not Even a Number” project.

Had it not been for STRIVE, I wouldn’t have recognized that community service has just as many benefits to those serving as it does to those who receive the benefits of the direct service. And I would have never found my passion for immigration issues in America.

To sign up for STRIVE, complete the application on UM’s Special Interest Housing page. Applications for the 2013-2014 school year are due Friday, March 8, 2013.

Post Written By:
Nick Swyter
STRIVE Community Assistant

LeaderShape Institute of South Florida

LeaderShape was the turning point of my college career.

Last August, I attended LeaderShape with 11 other UM students who were total strangers to me. Now, they are my friends.

LeaderShape is a 6-day conference and retreat that is both challenging and fun. Getting out of my comfort zone for a week was a real eye-opener and emotional experience. Knowing that things that seem impossible can become possible as long as you try and try again was a tough concept for me to grasp.

LeaderShape 2012

The most influential part of the whole conference was the day we talked about our personal values. I still have the LeaderShape book with the page about defining your values marked.

“Never forget your core values, and always stick to them.”

This lesson made the whole journey come together and be worthwhile. Happiness, reputation, and autonomy are my core values. I look for those qualities in others and conduct my life according to those measures.

Limitless Team

Besides all the continual learning throughout the week, the friends I made, the fun I had, and the person I found within myself is what my LeaderShape experience was all about.

The Butler Center for Service and Leadership is currently accepting applications to the 2013 LeaderShape Institute. Applicats are due by Friday, March 8.

Post Written By:
Connor Adams
Butler Center Student Assistant