Thursday, June 14, 2012

RAPPing up 2012

From: Marjorie Bledsoe, Public Ally for RAPP 2011-2012

Working with RAPP and Public Allies this year has been amazing! I’ve learned so much that it’s hard to sum it all up. I have solidified my love of community, relationships, and Social Justice Education through my ten months of service. I didn’t realize how many groups of amazing influential people I belong to; the interconnectedness of these communities has never been more apparent. I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention, or maybe I’m just now positioned to feel like I’m really part of it all.

My journey to working with Public Allies and RAPP started in 2009, when I joined RAPP XXV. Through RAPP I met someone who introduced me to the Northside Family Dinner community. I quickly became friends with the folks who host and attend Family Dinner, many of whom are Public Allies Alumni. As I went through RAPP, Family Dinner served as my support network; I would go straight from meetings to Dinner and debrief on what I’d learned. Concepts of privilege and oppression were new to me, and although I’d experienced these dynamics throughout my life, I’d never realized how valid my own experiences actually were. My Family Dinner community and RAPP legitimized so much of what I’d been told wasn’t real about my life experience. Major medical issues and divorce are only a couple of examples of what I was faced with during this time, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to support me through such a difficult part of my life.

In 2010-2011 I took on a Peer Leader position with RAPP XXVI, became active in RAPPORT (RAPP’s alumni program), and joined the newly formed Social Justice League. I continued to build upon the foundation of awareness and appreciation for myself and others I gained in my RAPP XXV experience. I finally possessed the confidence to take what I’d learned of myself and my experiences out into the world. I did workshops and trainings with the Social Justice League, had difficult and emotional conversations with my family and friends, and I came out.

During this time I was encouraged to explore the Public Allies program by Rebecca Lehman and my friends who were Public Allies Alumni. These folks supported me through the application process which is daunting, especially for those who are financially limited. If not for their support I don’t know that I would have made it through the process or gotten the job, as I was initially rejected as an applicant. I’m so thankful for all of these people; I feel as though I am on a path that will only lead to bigger and better things as a result of participating in Public Allies.

My experience with Public Allies and RAPP had been so rich and rewarding that I don’t know that I can fully describe all that I’ve gained. I spent this time planning, facilitating, networking, and learning. I have learned and accomplished so much in the last ten months that it will probably take just as long to process it all. I would like to share the video made by Rebecca Lehman about the RAPP Reflections show that is part of the ReRoot exhibit at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center. I think the video highlights some of the key things that happened in my life and in the RAPP XXVII Tuesday and Wednesday groups. Enjoy!

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