Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 54: I count in Mondays.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at my favorite Starbucks this morning reading Sonnet 54, daily news, and a Scientific American article. (The last even prompted me to whip up a quick blog post on the metro.) Done with my daily reading, I received a text from my girl Jessie Conradi mentioning that she would be going to court this morn. I asked her if I could tag along, and succeeded in switching lines (egad!) from orange to red to meet her at Judiciary Square. While in the waiting room, I wrote a ~200-word blurb about Gyaan Ghar for a piece about Flint Hill alumni on which Marian Cavanagh is working.

In today's court case, justice was served! The 13-year-old being tried ("R") had been caught with a flammable concoction of household cleaning agents at school, and the state was pushing that he be put on probation. As both Jessie and the boy's mother explained, cases like this usually end up going against the client, and tainting his permanent record. Today's case was an exception. R had an incredible support system: his mother, father, aunt, and grandfather were present to advocate for him, and his two older sisters, who are in college, had written letters to the judge. After the prosecutor presented the case, the boy's family members and numerous counselors and tutors told the judge about R's lifestyle. He is a fantastic artist involved in a theatrical group, his church's youth group, and a tutoring program. He teaches young children poetry. He is "polite and mild-mannered," as one of his monitors said. While R is having some trouble in school, this is because he is a special needs child enrolled in "regular" classes. Having heard all this, the judge told R how lucky he is to have all these folks who believe in him. Very earnestly, he made sure the boy had learned his lesson and would never do anything to potentially hurt himself or his loved ones again ("I never, ever want to see you here again") -- and the case was dismissed.

R's family was euphoric. Jessie said this was the first time one of her clients' cases had been dismissed, and we were both very happy that this innocent child had received the treatment he actually deserved. Yay D.C. Superior Court!

Back at Sasha Bruce, I grabbed lunch at Subway, accompanied by Miss Jessie. We had an awesome talk (as always with Jess) about what it really, actually means to be true to oneself.

After doing some office work for Vicki van Heuven (Jessie's Program Director), I headed to Bruce House with Jill to set up for an event to take place this afternoon. Rita Williams-Garcia, the award-winning novelist of Jumped, was to present a book talk for Sasha Bruce youth about the novel. I helped Jill set up (she's a cookie artist) and got to talk to Erin, a resident of Bruce House. Erin had read the novel and really enjoyed it, saying that "it kept [her] attention, which is rare," and she could really relate to it. (I started the book on the way home, and you can now find it on my Gap Year Reading List in the sidebar on the right.) Unfortunately, I had to leave for home before Williams-Garcia arrived -- I had so wanted an autograph!

My metro ride home consisted of alternation between 2 songs -- Rachel Platten's buoyantly bouncy 1,000 Ships and Beyoncé's superbly soulful Best Thing I Never Had -- both are really worth a listen!

The taxi ride home from Vienna graced me with an amazing new acquaintance -- my driver, Uday Uncle, was from Nepal, and fluent in . . . you guessed it, Hindi. It was great to discuss everything from linguistics to community service with him. Uday Uncle even donated $10 to Gyaan Ghar! (Honestly, you all would be astounded to know how far a dollar goes in India. As a reference, today's donation was enough to purchase school supplies for all 56 students for half a year!!)

Once home, I went for a walk with Nani before settling down to write about this extremely enriching day.


  1. Ratna, how do we make a contribution to Gyaan Ghar?

  2. Jen! You are too sweet. Thank you for thinking of Gyaan Ghar and me.

    To make a contribution, you can send a check payable to "Gyaan" to the following address:

    Gyaan Ghar Learning Centre
    60 New Lajpat Nagar
    Pakhowal Road

    Thank you so, so much for your generosity.