We learned many new things in our first week of the Summer Institute, but what I found really interesting was when we went on the Richmond Refinery Tour. Denny Larson of Global Community Monitor, our tour guide, really touched my heart with his words. All these hazardous buildings were placed right next to homes and no one was doing anything about it. I remember him talking about a gas cloud that just rushed by people and put many of them in the hospital, killing families, moms, dads, sisters, and brothers and yet the buildings were still not taken down.
Also, these toxic locations were mainly in North Richmond (where most of the low income residents of color reside). When you enter Point Richmond (where all the wealthy residents are located) you will notice there’s no deterioration, no tank carts, no toxic buildings around, no factories, just clean and beautiful neighborhoods. I am living in an impoverished society wheres people are treated less than them and break others down. They think, why care for something that already is broken? We’re all human, we all deserve fair treatment.
Also, I learned how to interact with my peers. Learning new things about one another and cracking jokes, laughing and just being myself. At first it was super awkward, I mean what do you expect? As soon as the first day went by, that wall we all built sort of came down. I actually do miss everyone when I’m at my externship. I’ve grown to love my friends and I’m really glad we all became close. Within that week, I had fun. I’m lucky to have discovered this program and excited to see what’s in store for next week.