the gated college


Remembering powerpoint problems last year at Albany University, I planned to arrive early at Temple U. To get everything set up. Kaki had decided to come and so we were both early, an hour early, and the dean of the social work school wasn’t ready for us, nor was the room where I was to present.

The program was to start at four. The room empted out at four. I hurried in, whipped out the flashdrive John Sharpless gave me after hearing about the almost-stolen laptop with the unbacked up new book on it. And poof: the first slide of the powerpoint writ large on the screen.

Educators are using WALK WITH US to

 Present a fascinating Case Study
 Examine Survival skill, Strengths, & Resiliency
 Encourage Cultural Sensitivity, and Advocacy
 Develop Bias awareness and Mutuality
 Inspire long-term strategies and Creative problem solving
 Enjoy riveting, evocative, hopeful, funny, edifying, poetic prose

That was devised by Kaki, who also set up the Temple event. She started working on it about six months ago. But it was worth it: although the group was small, we’re invited back for a larger event in April.

The professor who invited us feels Temple is too clinical. Students don’t come from or know much about the people and communities they hope to serve. I could tell that from their questions. And how amazed they were that we had done something very common (as the professor pointed out) around the world and in the innercity – everywhere in fact but in middeclass white America: shared our home with neighbors in need.

Temple sits in the innercity but walls itself off from it. Social work students are attracted not by the location, this professor told us, but by the clinical program. Clinical as in hang up a shingle and wait for people to come to you. Don't go down to the streets.

Kaki was busy, before and after, telling undergrads about those streets. Those who had already walked them were most interested in talking: a single father who fought the system in order to keep his children; a young woman from Israel who spent two years tutoring in North Philly schools before starting college. Experience before education.

They had to hurry off to classes — our story and a few of its images (like this one) now part of their education. And, maybe, a critique of it.