I interviewed Fellow Corps members, Thuy-Mai Nguyen and Jose “FaCce” Maldonado, about their motivation for service. Mai founded the GED program which started in January and runs throughout the week at the Institute. FaCce is the founder of Project 401, teaches breakdance, and does arts and crafts at the Institute and Locations around RI.
Mai and FaCce at Opening Day
This is why they serve.
“I serve at the Institute because the issues they tackle are complex, dynamic, complicated, and a brain teaser. I had the option of serving in a College Guide Americorps program in Seattle but turned it down to try something more challenging in ways I was not sure of. Our population is considered the most at-risk. Many of our clients have been incarcerated, arrested, or involved either directly or indirectly with violence. When I graduated college, I did not know for certain that this is how I would spend my year, but these past 9- months have been nothing but educational, inspiring, disheartening at times, but also empowering. I am constantly tested at my site, discovering my limitations and abilities. And as much as this is a growing experience for me, I also must go into my work believing I am helping in someway, even though most days I don’t feel that way. The issues are large. The baggage seemingly unpack-able. But that’s part of this challenge of my choosing. I do not know how my year of service will or won’t impact my site and this community, but I have a good idea of how it has and will continue to inform my future work and decision making as I continue my path into social work. In a few years from now I hope to attend grad school for social work and perhaps public health as well. In sum, one could say I serve now so I can better serve in the future.”
-Thuy-Mai Nguyen: GED Program at Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence
Mai with Congressman Cicilline and GED class
“I serve because, not only do I feel like I wanna make a change in myself, but also have an affect on those around me so that they can be motivated and inspired to help others. This is my way of social change. If you can rub off some of that positive energy to those that need it the most it can spread like cancer and like cancer its gonna take time to notice the change.
My favorite moments as a dancer are when I teach certain movements that are very difficult and the clients take it upon themselves to push till they get it and that inspires me to teach more. When learning it is very easy to just say “I can’t do it”, but when I see the extra push and passion it reminds me of life; you always need someone to give you a push to the next level or just to help you feel supported to step to the next level.
What makes it all worth it at the end for me is knowing I supported and helped someone who needed it. That’s a worth in itself, not to mention seeing them in the future making something of themselves or mentoring another. That’s the true meaning of “each one teach one”.
Why serve at the institute? I come from the same backgrounds as most clients we deal with so I know what it is to get doors shut in front of your face or being written off because you don’t look a certain way. So I decided to come to the institute because of the diversity and the unique work that comes out of here. All forms of positivity can come out of the “NONVIOLENCE INSTITUTE”. I’ ve been through some of the worst stuff the “hood” has to offer and with that I decided to try to help clients avoid those same roads or at least offer them a different outlet through programming.”
—–Jose “FaCce” Maldonado – Founder of Project 401