Friday, November 21, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are joining us as a summer intern for 2013, please see the list of frequently asked questions below:

How should I plan my travel arrangements to Aliquippa?
As the summer approaches, you will be contacted by an Aliquippa Impact staff member to confirm with you that you have arranged for your travel to Aliquippa.  Please remember that you are responsible to arrive in Aliquippa before the welcome dinner on June 2, 2013.  If you are flying into Pittsburgh or taking the train, it will be better for you to arrive on June 1 to ensure you are here on time.  Interns can use any number of types of transportation including:

  • Personal vehicle - If you are driving to Aliquippa, we will be happy to assist you in giving you directions.  There will be a place for you to park your car in the community.
  • Carpooling - As the summer approaches, we will let the interns know who is driving from where.  In the past, interns have been able to carpool together to get to Aliquippa.  However, you will be responsible for coordintating this with another intern if you are looking for a ride.
  • Train - Amtrak train service comes into downtown Pittsburgh.  We will be happy to pick you up from the train station.  Amtrak train tickets can be purchased through thier website or toll free phone number.  If you are arriving by train, you should arrive in Aliquippa on June 4 to ensure that you will be able to picked up by an Aliquippa Impact staff member.
  • Plane - Aliquippa is only 15 minutes from Pittsburgh International Airport.  We will be happy to coordinate a ride to pick you up from the airport.  If you are arriving by plane, you should arrive in Aliquippa on June 4 to ensure that you will be able to be picked up by an Aliquippa Impact staff member or volunteer.
  • Bus - Greyhoud busses arrive in downtown Pittsburgh.  We will be happy to pick you up from the bus station.  Greyhoud bus tickest can be purchased through their website or toll free phone number.  If you are arriving by bus, you should arrive in Aliquippa on June 1 to ensure that you will be able to be picked up by an Aliquippa Impact staff member.

When I arrive in Aliquippa, where should I go to?
Upon your arrival in Aliquippa, you should come to our office at 801 Franklin Avenue on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Spring Street.  We will be able to give you directions to this location.  When you arrive, you will be given your ID, training schedule, room assignments, and other important information.

Where will I be living during my stay?
We have two staff houses in the community - one for males and the other for females.  You will share a room with other interns.  It will be tight, noisy, and lack privacy.  At worst, your housing will be crowded and modest.  Dressers are at a premium and you will probably have to live out of your suitcase.  But, believe it or not, you will probably be sad to leave all of it behind at the end of the summer.

Living with lots of people can be very good, or terrible, depending on YOU.  Jesus Christ calls his followers to be servants, and He didn't just give us a command - he demonstrated this with His whole life and actions.  The Kingdom needs servants more than it needs leaders or task masters.  Part of your growth this summer will come as you learn to do community well in difficult circumstances.

What should I bring?
Please remember to pack keeping in mind that your space will be limited in the summer.  You will be provided with three intern t-shirts that you will wear in your day to day work with Aliquippa Impact.  Our suggestions for packing are the following:

  • mostly causual, modest clothing for a hot and humid summer
  • some dress-up clothes
  • money to do some site seeing (Saturday trips)
  • your own sheets, a pillow; one simple blanket.  All mattresses are twin (single) size.
  • personal devotional material and a Bible
  • a swimsuit and beach towel
  • personal items such as towels, soap, washcloth, toothpaste, deodorant, comb, razor, etc.  Those who can live without electric hair appliances, please do so.
  • youth/children ministry resources you may have - music, books, game ideas, art and craft books, skit books, etc.
  • an alarm clock
  • a small extension cord
  • summer reading, paper and pens, addresses of those you wish to write to
  • laptop and/or camera (but you are responsible for the care of these items)

Where will I do laundry?
The staff houses do not have washers and dryers in them for intern use.  All interns can utilize local laundromats during their stay.  We will be able to provide you with the location of these facilities.

Where will I eat?
Meals are generously provided through individuals from local churches who are committed to supporting your stay while you are in Aliquippa.  This will give you the opportunity to connect with people who live in the local area as well as eat some delicious food.  People are excited to provide meals for you, so please eat up!  We eat all our meals in the upstairs floor of our administrative office.

Where can I buy essentials during my stay?
Bring as many essentials as you can with you so you don't have to buy them when you get here.  But there are several drug and convenience stores some miles away from where you will be staying.  These items will be available within walking distance.

What about internet, phone, and mail?
You will not be able to access any of Aliquippa Impact's phone for personal, long distance calls.  If you don't have a cell phone, you'll need a phone card.  You will have internet access at the Aliquippa Impact office (the office is a hotspot for wireless internet access).  If you have a laptop with wireless capability, you will also have access to wireless internet at teh Uncommon Grounds Cafe about a block from the intern house and at the B.F. Jones Memorial Library.  Mail can be sent to the following address and brought to your attention:

Aliquippa Impact
P.O.  Box 227
Aliquippa, PA  15001

What is Aliquippa like?
This small list of questions and answers could never even come close to doing justice to the richness of our community life.  We can say a few things though.  If you have never lived in an urban area or had much interaction with people from a different cultural or economic background than yourself, this may feel very different to you.  Many people do experience some culture shock, but don't let that scare you away.  Aliquippa has a lifetime's worth of powerful lessons to teach you about God, yourself, others, and society.  Dive into our community this summer and try to scratch the surface.

But when people ask what is Aliquippa like, often part of what they are trying to ask is....

Is Aliquippa safe?
Our answer is "yes" and "it depends"  Those of us who have lived in the community for some time have grown comfortable here.  We don't live in fear because the residents of Aliquippa are our neighbors.  We love them and they love us.  We recognize that sometimes the fear of outsiders to our community creates myths about how dangerous our community actually is.  That is unfortunate since it labels a portion of society as "dangerous" when this simply isn't so.  At the same time...

We recognize that very few of our interns will ever be truly streetwise.  In addition to this, drug use and its related crimes, the easy availability of guns in the United States, lack of economic opportunities, and even poor anger management skills all contribute to relatively higher rates of violence in America's inner-cities.  You must be prepared to adjust and take allowances for where you are.

Because of these facts, we have designed safety rules to help prevent you from being a victim by keeping you from unnecessary risks.  These rules are non-negotiable.  In our seven years of summer programs, we have never had a staff member physically harmed or in danger - when they were following our instructions. You can help keep you and your fellow interns safe by using common sense, by hearing and following the advice and rules we give, and by working with us rather than striking out on your own.  If you can't do this, you will be asked to return home.

Will I be able to go away for the weekend?
Since your time here is short, we discourage summer interns from taking a whole weekend as a vacation.  We ask that people observe the work week of Sunday through Friday.  Besides, once you get to know some of the kids and their families, you will not want to be away from them!  If a short time away is unavoidable, please clear it with your supervisor first.  If possible, please contact our office with the information before you arrive.

Are all of the activities on the schedule required of me?
Yes.  For every portion of your invovlement this summer, you must show up on time every time in order for our youth programs and workshops to run safely and smoothly.  Some interns in years past have not liked the idea of being "required" to come to prayer and worship times or workshop times.  We don't like thinking of it in those terms either - like you are being forced to pray with your fellow interns.  Who wants to be forced to pray?  However, if you have been accepted into our summer program, it is assumed that you know what you are getting into.  Prayer, worship, and learning as well as program invovlement are part of the intern experience package for the summer.  This is MUCH more than just a summer job.  So if you feel like you can't show up to these things with a good attitude and be excited to participate, then maybe this experience isn't for you.  And that's OK - you might just want to look for a more conventional summer job elsewhere.  We want people to come because what is on the weekly schedule is exciting to them as part of a total discipleship experience - not because they were forced to come.  If you come with excited anticipation about what God will do in your life and in the life of others, your attitude will remain positive.

What suggestions do you have for living in Aliquippa?
First, approach the summer as a learning opportunity. Your ability to be teachable will directly correspond to you having a positive experience in Aliquippa.

Second, be yourself.  The summer is an opportunity to share experiences with so many different people.  You will be able to learn and grow from them just as they are able to learn and grow from you.

Third, do not classify people.  All African-Americans do not play basketball or rap or have rhythm.  All urban youth do not come from single-parent homes.  All young men out on the streets are not selling drugs.  All the boys in our community do not play football.  Remember that each individual and family unit is unique, and stereotypes can hurt people.

Fourth, give yourself opportunities to share experiences with your neighbors.  Don't drive a car if you can use public transportation.  Try to do your laundry in the laundromat.  Don't drive to Wal-Mart in Monaca if you can shop at our local grocery and convenience stores, even if it costs more money.  Hang out on the front porch.  Use these as opportunities to discover how similar you are to your neighbors and learn what you really need to live.

Finally, be a good neighbor.  Your presence in the neighborhood does not go unnoticed.  If fact, you are being watched and listened to constantly.  You are an ambassador for Aliquippa Impact, for the local church, and for Christ.  Dress modestly.  If your house is close to other homes, think about who is on the other side of that wall as you play music or have fun.  Keep your house and sidewalk clean.  Get to know parents of youth.  Treat everyone with respect.  Listen.

Can I bring my car?
Yes.  First, you must have insurance and provide proof of your insurance to us.  Keep in mind, Aliquippa Impact insurance will not cover your liability, collision, or other insurance needs when you use your car.  If you plan to bring a car, you must sign an Agreement for Personal Vehicle Use upon your arrival.  Plan on only having access to on-the-street parking.  We will not, because of insurance and safety issues, be able to permit you to use your vehicle to transport children or youth in our programs.

What should I know about bringing valuable personal items?
Many of our staff members in years past have chosen to bring valuable personal items such as cameras or laptop computers.  Cameras and computers can be helpful to you for the summer, since they will enable you to document your work here and also plan your lessons with the youth.  However, you do not need to bring these things. We have cameras you can use if you like.  The library has computers you can use.

If you bring these times, you alone are responsible for them. We can take no responsibility for your items being damaged or stolen.  If you are careless with your items (using them outside in plain view, leaving them in an unlocked space, leaving them unsupervised) they will get stolen.

You should not be wearing valuable jewlery during your stay with us.  Leave it at home where it will be secure.  You should not keep large amounts of cash on you or in the intern house.  Use a bank!

Please DO NOT BRING televisions, desktop computers, stereo systems, printers, or other electronic equipment - you won't need them or have room for them.

Will we have television for the summer?
One word - detox.  Be free of your need for TV!  There may be space for you to watch movies with your fellow interns, but cable will not be part of your summer.  Besides, if you stay glued to the TV for the whole summer, you will miss valuable opportunities for prayer, reading, learning, and relationship building.  Part of your summer experience is living simply - learning what you need and don't need to survive.  If you fully engage in service for the summer, you'll find that TV isn't such an important part of life after all.

Do you have any suggested readings?
Why, yes - we certainly do.  You don't have to read these before your arrival, but any of these selections would be helpful:

Theirs is the Kingdom by Bob Lupton - short narratives of various urban issues and Christian responses

Race Matters by Cornell West - a leading African-American scholar examines issues of race, culture, and politics

Unexpected News by Robert McAfee Brown - an American theologian reflects on reading the Bible with the eyes of the poor

Code of the Streets by Elijah Anderson - an African-American sociologist examines violence and morality in the inner-city of Philadelphia

Promises I Can Keep by by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas - two sociologists discuss why poor women sometimes put motherhood before marriage

Follow Me to Freedom by Shaine Claiborne and John Perkins - two activists discuss leading and following in the radical pattern of Christ

Seperate No More by Norman Peart - a sociologist/pastor discusses racial reconciliation in the church

Sidewalks in the Kingdom by Eric Jacobsen - a Christian discusses how the church should practically serve the city

A Heart for the Community ed. by John Fuder and Noel Castellanos - various urban ministry leaders discuss different urban ministry issues

The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson - a pastor discusses the power of the Spirit at work among gang members in New York City

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala - an urban pastor discusses the importance of the Holy Spirit in ministry

School(s) of Conversion ed. by Rutba House - various authors discuss the twelve marks of the New Monasticism

Oh, ok, so you don't have half a lifetime to read all of them before you come!  Maybe just read a few that look the most interesting to you.  Don't worry, you can read the rest of them when you get home in August.

 

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