Shepherd Internship Consortium Narrative

Samantha Italiano
Elon University
Class ’14 – Human Service Studies

Foundation Communities – Sierra Vista Learning Center

Clink, clack, clunk. My day starts on the Metro Capital City Bus of Austin, Texas with people depositing a dollar into the machine. Swipe! More people step onto the bus to start their day. People riding the bus are from various types of backgrounds. Many judgements can be made but pure physical characteristics, but further the interesting characters and stories come alive through shared songs on a Saturday afternoon, or a short conversation with a complete stranger before the 6th Street stop approaches. After nearly forty minutes pass from getting on near University of Texas, I have watched people come and go, and now it is my turn to hop of the bus ready for my day in South Austin. No day was quite the same as any other at the Sierra Vista Learning Center, but every day included smiles by residents and staff at this wonderful Foundation Communities’ property, providing low-income individuals and families with supportive and affordable housing. Everything from adult ESL classes, to pre-literacy classes for three and four year olds, to financial assistance, and after-school/summer programming for K-12, the Sierra Vista Learning Center is a hub of community. I began to realize that I was surrounded by “happy” poverty, in that I knew these families and individuals were struggling, but those who chose to be involved in these amazing programs wanted to live their lives just like any other person. My primary role as a summer intern was to work with the Teen Summer Program, and while there were many struggles throughout the summer, at the end of the day I knew the teens I was working with saw themselves as an ordinary teenager; not a teenager in poverty.