August 2020

Pomona Hope News

Summer Enrichment Goes Virtual 
As work, daily activities, and home life look radically different for many of us today, so does life at Pomona Hope. Even with this change, the principles at the heart of everything we do at Pomona Hope remain the same: hope, love, and transformation.

This summer, three innovative and motivated interns took on the task of creating a virtual Summer Enrichment with Pomona Hope conducting workshops 4-days a week with 30 students. Students explored the science behind viruses, practiced healthy living (with a focus on mental health), read, and created art. While we deeply missed being together in-person, Zoom-based workshops facilitated learning, exploration, and building lasting relationships. We hope that the reflections of our interns below are a testament to that.

Read on to hear from Summer 2020 interns Hannah, Andy, and Priscilla to learn more about the virtual summer program at Pomona Hope!
Learning how to write "Happy New Year" in Chinese with Hannah
Andy with volunteers, Stan and Sara, and the Earth Tribe (4th-5th graders) showing off their homegrown plants
Priscilla lesson plans over video chat with fellow interns
Summer Reflection
By: Ariadna (Andy) Molina

I started this adventure with Pomona Hope the summer going into my senior year of high school, since then I have had many leadership opportunities come my way. Through Pomona Hope, I have been an Advocate (high school volunteer), an adult volunteer, and a school year intern. I have also been a part of the Young Adult Scholarship and PRYME programs--a math leadership workshop with Cal Poly Pomona and the University of La Verne. Now as a sophomore attending the University of La Verne majoring in Spanish and Sociology with a concentration in Crime, Law, and Society, I have gotten the opportunity to become one of the summer interns for Pomona Hope. 

This internship will help me achieve my goal of becoming a college professor and a lawyer. This summer I am teaching the art workshop, reading workshop for the Water Tribe (3rd graders), Garden Science workshop, and co-leading the Junior High Leadership. For my art workshop, I am teaching about artists who you don’t really see in a regular art class. For the first week, I taught the kids about Black contemporary artists and their importance during the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Lives Matter Movement. In the second week, I taught them about Indigenous artists and their importance before they were colonized by the Spanish. For Garden Science, I have been teaching them about the science behind gardening with activities such as planting, Chapstick making, and herb soap making. 

My family has been personally affected by the pandemic; this time of my life has been the most difficult. I know many of the families in Pomona have been affected by the pandemic, some of them lost their jobs, some have lost their homes, and unfortunately, some have lost their lives. Pomona Hope decided to open its virtual doors to the Pomona community for its annual Summer Enrichment Program (SEPH). As a team, Hannah, Priscilla, and I coordinated Pomona Hope’s first virtual summer program. Navigating the world of Zoom sparked some difficulties, but in the long run, as a team, we all learned and overcame obstacles we faced with technology and in general. 

I have had the honor and privilege of getting to know and build relationships with some of the students in Pomona Hope’s virtual program. I already knew most of the kids in the program, but not at the level I know them now. I have gotten to know their aspirations and goals for their future. Lia--in the Fire Nation (K-1 age group)--wants to be a pediatrician. Linda--in the Fire Nation--wants to be a veterinarian. Isaac--in the Water Tribe (grade 2-3 age group)--wants to be a firefighter. And Leonardo--in the Water Tribe--wants to be a cop. Victor--an Air Nomad (junior high age group)--wants to be a math teacher and model in the future. Erick--an Air Nomad--wants to be a doctor and surgeon. Having been with the program for over three years, I have gotten the privilege to watch some of these kids grow, mature, and learn. I am so proud of each and every single one of the kids in the program, past and present. I am one hundred percent certain that any obstacle that comes their way they will overcome. I am also one hundred percent confident that each and every goal they set for themselves, they will achieve. 

With only one week to go for the summer program, I am saddened by the fact that this year's program will come to an end. But I am so happy for all those teachable moments, all the laughs, the tears, the stress, and memories that I got to experience with this program. The citizens of Pomona are blessed to have such a wonderful and beautiful community, and I know I am lucky to have them.

Different Cultures, Same Dream
By: Hannah Juang

Hi, I’m Hannah Juang. I am the daughter of two immigrants, both from Taiwan. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA. Recently, I graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, CA with a major in molecular biology. My dream is to become a middle school science teacher. I teach two main workshops: STEM and Culture Counts. The focus of the STEM workshop is to learn about the science behind COVID-19. For example, students have researched past epidemics and pandemics, hypothesized on what is more effective: hand washing or using hand sanitizer, and watched videos on how viruses work. In the Culture Counts workshop, students learn about Chinese culture and have space to reflect on their own culture. (pictured right: students practice techniques like meditation and eating balanced meals in the Healthy Living workshop)

Coming into this internship, I was a little apprehensive about how I would be received. Because many of the students in the program come from Latino backgrounds, I wondered if they would treat me differently due to my background. I also wondered if I would be able to connect with them. However, through a recent seminar and a moment in my Culture Counts class, I learned that although differences in culture can seemingly divide, these differences can also unite us. 

As interns, we attend seminars led by people who have diverse work and life experiences. Our most recent seminar was a conversation with a parent whose child has been extensively involved with Pomona Hope for several years. As she shared about her immigration journey from Mexico, I compared my parents’ immigration story to hers. It was vastly different. Yet, what was most striking to me was her love for her son. I looked back on all the times I have interacted with her son in my workshops. Her dream is wrapped up in her child, who has his mother’s smile. Her story resonated with how my mother’s dream was manifested in me. Both mothers, although presently living in a country vastly different from their own, simply wish for their children to have a good life. The resounding anthem of love and deep devotion to family rings true across both cultures.

Her story made me recognize that I am part of something larger than simply PowerPoints and homework. I have the privilege of cultivating parents’ dreams—their children—the very reason why some of them decided to immigrate to the United States.

In my Culture Counts workshop, I taught students how to speak and write the numbers 1-10 in Mandarin Chinese. I noticed that one of the students who was relatively quieter than the others continued to ask me how to pronounce the words correctly. He was adamant about getting it right, even asking me to repeat myself after I pronounced the word once. After teaching them how to speak and write double digits, I said, “With these numbers, you should be able to speak and write the numbers 1-99.” “How do you write 100?” this student immediately asked. His question caught me off guard, but I managed to write the word for 100 (bai, 百) on the screen for all to copy. This student represented many others I’ve gotten to know whose natural curiosity drives them to learn beyond what is required. Hopefully, they will go beyond 100, beyond 百 (bai), surpassing even their parents’ expectations and fly.

At the end-of-summer Talent Show, students share their talents such as singing, puppet shows, gymnastics, and art. 

“I saw things I imagined” - Solange  

By: Priscilla Merlo

My name is Priscilla Merlo and I was born in Pomona Valley Hospital in the quiet hours of a Friday daybreak. I was born to a pair of folks who crossed deserts and highways, coming from Honduras, and arriving in Pomona, California, USA. 

I will graduate from Pepperdine University this fall, with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, a concentration in Latin American studies and a minor in nonprofit management. My experience at Pepperdine has been a privilege. I have grown, uprooted, unlearned, and reconciled. I learned how to carry honor, tenderly, at the forefront of everything that I do. This honor is for myself, my parents, the natural world, and those in the world around me. 

This summer, I felt particularly called to holistically apply my privilege in the city that welcomed my parents into this country. Pomona is a unique gem of multiculturalism shrouded in corruption and affected by the generational consequences of injustices. Many of these things are hard to navigate, and even name. Only because of my privilege to receive an undergraduate education, have I been equipped with the language to begin dissecting this history and identify its present-day manifestations. 

As I drive through the city of Pomona today, I imagine a Pomona unlearned of its trials. I imagine fruit groves and community farms, youth programs and uncharted parks. I think about local businesses whose infrastructure and ideas need investment. I think about the housing and health crises. I think about the plots of land that sit empty next to homes that are falling apart. I think about my family and other families. I think about the empowerment woven into my lineage by my ancestors. And I also wonder, what next?  

I keep all of these things in mind when I log onto Zoom Monday through Thursday to teach 1st through 8th graders with the Summer Enrichment program at Pomona Hope. On these days, I teach a reading lesson to a group of four 1st graders and a Healthy Living section to 1st-8th graders. Though it has only been two weeks, I have been transformed by the love and acceptance of the Pomona youth. I have given them my ears, my heart and my eyes and there is nothing comparable to the enlightenment they have bestowed upon me. In a season where I feel constantly at odds with the injustice that materializes every single day, I am learning what it means to feel hope again. 

My personal goal is to extend representation and to shed light on our capacity, as our intersecting groups continue to be portrayed by untruths from tongues of highest authority. I hope to listen, and to embolden every student to fully understand the importance of showing up just as they are. I hope to extend my hand with an open palm and have this vulnerability respected. 

Priscilla's prayer for Pomona: 
“The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of the Lord's bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.” - Deuteronomy 28:12


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Thank you to Inland SoCal United Way for their many years of partnership with Pomona Hope. A recent United Way COVID-19 Relief Grant will support After School with Pomona Hope as we continue to engage students and their families this school year. 
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