I have always had some issues with guilt. Maybe it’s because I was raised Catholic and Sister Joelle would just not leave me alone. Maybe it is because I have been so privileged. Either way, every time I return to Baltimore I am greeted with a huge reminder of my good fortune.
The train ride into Penn Station provides a window into abandoned houses and empty lots. They are painful showcases of the severe inequality in Baltimore (and really nationwide). The minute one steps off of the train and into the train station, they immediately see the picturesque Baltimore, with monuments and universities (University of Baltimore). A cab ride to Hopkins will lead you past pretty town homes and you’ll arrive on a thoroughly gorgeous campus. Here, it seems like there are people from every corner of the earth. From the campus’s beauty to its promise of innovation and education, there really is an energetic feel on campus (except for Sunday mornings).
To drive further along North Charles Street, you’ll see Loyola and Notre Dame College and Goucher. They are all beautiful schools removed from the ugliness of poverty. But for as much time as I feel like I’ve spent exploring Baltimore this past semester, in some respects, I haven’t seen it at all. The swanky shopping in Federal Hill is a huge step from Canton. Tourist friendly Inner Harbor clashes with many parts of East Baltimore.
Barack Obama has called for service. Many Hopkins students (myself included) participated in the President’s Day of Service in September. But is that really enough? Sure, I donate canned goods during the holidays and add a dollar to my bill at CVS. But none of that offers any real insight into the problems our nation is facing. And I can watch the Wire and listen to Baltimore rapper Bossman, but I won’t know anything until I make a real effort.
Many students on campus are ahead of me in their volunteer work. Some are involved in the wonderful Tutorial Project and others are active in the various student groups dedicated to the community. So instead of a New Years resolution to lose the “holiday weight” I gained at home, I am determined to start seeing the real Baltimore by way of volunteering. If my background check is cleared (fingers crossed) I should be volunteering at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center.
Don’t get me wrong,I honestly feel 100% safe at Hopkins and in the surrounding areas. For a more in-depth blog post about security, see this one from Daniel. I’m beginning to understand that Hopkins’s location is a bonus. Instead of the idealized college on a hill in New England, Baltimore provides out of the classroom reality for students.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. I know that y’all love photos of me but since my official photographer is not coming back for intersession, you are out of luck. Try TMZ, though. They usually post photos of me daily.