The summer has been progressing and I have been learning a lot through my time at Conflict Kitchen. I’m finding it very useful to journal in order to track what I learn and be able to reference my thoughts later in discussions.
I have been busy doing research for Conflict Kitchen, which switched to its Cuba iteration in June. My various tasks have included finding articles for the kitchen staff to read so that they are informed about Cuba and revising the food wrapper that features interviews with Cubans both in Cuba and the United States. I have also helped with preparations for future iterations by finding contacts who can help with research and developing questions to interview the contacts. I have also been working at the kitchen and interacting with customers, engaging them in dialogue about Cuban culture and US- Cuba relations.
Keeping to my learning goals, I have learned that successful facilitation of cross-cultural education should provide a means for the education to continue. I’ve realized through this internship that there tends to be a backup of knowledge between the information we gather on the country and what we can share while interacting with customers. The interactions with customers can be so short that there is hardly any time to truly engage in dialogue or share an interesting piece of information. I felt like the kitchen should offer some way for people to continue educating themselves, and therefore dispelling stereotypes, after they leave the restaurant. I suggested that I could develop a recommended reading list of books about Cuba and novels by Cuban authors. My supervisor liked the idea and it became my project. I partnered with the local branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh down the block from the Conflict Kitchen to learn how to make an effective booklist. The library was excited about the project and agreed to display the featured books and to work with the Conflict Kitchen in the future. This project is the part of my internship of which I am most proud. It has truly been my own project to develop and implement. It has not only allowed me to work towards my learning goals but also taught me new skills. Being able to put together a list of recommended reading will be useful in future jobs that deal with cultural education. Furthermore, developing a partnership with another community organization is important for any non-profit position.
With only a few weeks left of my internship, I know that I have learned many things and look forward to the remainder of it while finishing research and putting everything in place so the partnership with the library continues after I leave.
-G. Killian, ’14