My name is Tori and I am a sophomore at Vassar College majoring in Urban Studies. For my major it is required to do a semester of fieldwork. Being a local student, I knew that I wanted to do something that helped my local community. I met with the fieldwork director, told him my goals for the internship and then was later assigned to intern with Middle Main.
The first project I worked on coming to Middle Main was a the POKeep It Clean Survey. I went around to businesses up and down Main St and asked the owners, managers and employees to fill out the survey, tell me about their feelings on the cleanliness of the area and if they thought that it was impactful to their business.
I’ve also done lots of graphic making. This includes making a map, updating flyers, and presenting survey information. I’ve done all these on Microsoft Publisher, something I did not have any experience with prior. Designing a graphic is a skill I gained during this that I am now fairly confident in.
However, I think the most important thing I’ve done with Middle Main is community outreach. Community outreach to me is going out to people in the area and talking with them. This can take the form of surveying, letting them know of upcoming opportunities or just having a conversation. This is the my favorite part of my internship; I love trying to forge a relationship with new person. It’s pretty cool to form a bond, understanding or friendship with another human being that you had never seen before. This is probably the most challenging part of the internship too. You putting yourself out there in an unfamiliar situation surrounded by strangers. It can be very intimidating, but ultimately it is rewarding.
I am an Urban Studies student because I am interested in how a positive change can be made in our communities. A lot of what I study tries to explain why some urban areas fail to meet the needs of its residents. This theoretical academic study now contrasts with my practical experience in an organization trying to find solutions to these problems.
In downtown Poughkeepsie there is a positive trend of less vacant buildings, more new businesses and lower crime. I think these trends continue will continue. I like to see the current businesses staying in Middle Main and more residents moving into the area; bringing greater prosperity to all. My biggest hope though is that this will not bring gentrification. That revitalization in Poughkeepsie will be beneficial to the residents of it.