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Guest Blog: Lessons Learned from Virtual Programming

Submitted by Rachel Harb on Tue, 08/30/2022 - 09:34

By Konah Brownell, RFC Intern

My experiences over the last two years have been defined by three words: pivot, learn, and adapt. This summer was no exception, as I interned with the RFC and undertook virtual programming. Since the emergence of Covid-19, the RFC has been unable to host in-person gatherings and has been exploring virtual programming to foster community among beneficiaries. The RFC commenced its virtual programming initiatives by hosting two virtual art classes for kids and teens who worked on self-portraits inspired by the work of Kehinde Wiley and created fun art using the Zentangle method under the direction of an excellent art instructor. The RFC also partnered with the Civil Liberties Defense Center, which led a highly instructive and pertinent virtual "Know Your Rights" training for activist parents in the RFC community.

Despite what the RFC accomplished in terms of virtual programming, I still had my share of disappointments and anxiety, which is truly par for the course in these unprecedented times. I began my internship with high aspirations and ideals for what I would accomplish, but I've since realized that despite my best efforts and intentions, certain things are simply beyond my control.

For example, I explored a virtual campfire experience for beneficiaries (ages 18 and older) through Tiny Campfire, a third-party facilitator. Tiny Campfire provides an engaging virtual camping experience with skilled facilitators, team-based activities, and entertaining trivia. Our objective with this event was to foster community among CIF beneficiaries in a vibrant and engaging setting. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that summer is a really hard time to convene young adults to spend more time in front of a screen, even if s’mores and a smoke scented candle are involved!

Despite not hosting the campfire event for CIF beneficiaries, I learned a great deal about the work that goes into organizing a virtual event from scratch. I discovered what kinds of virtual events work, what events do not work in terms of timing and interests, and that we need to continue exploring how to foster community among beneficiaries in the virtual arena. Throughout my internship, I developed several concepts for future virtual programming efforts. I hope that the RFC can leverage our experiences and lessons learned this summer as a basis for implementing future virtual programming initiatives.

Even when things don't go as planned, I've found that there is always something to learn from an experience. As I learned two years ago during the Covid-19 outbreak and six years ago, when my family was forced to flee from Liberia to the United States for safety, I pivoted and adapted to the changes and challenges around me. I've had a great experience interning with the RFC, and I look forward to what the future brings.


Congratulations and best wishes as you enter new sharpers of your life and career. Thanks for the inspiring work- please keep it up.

Submitted by Patricia (not verified) on Wed, 08/31/2022 - 10:45

Congratulations on your successful internship. Good luck to you in the future!

Submitted by Gabe Sucher (not verified) on Wed, 08/31/2022 - 11:30

How refreshing to read a candid evaluation of your internship experience!
Of course, not everything goes 100% as planned or hoped. Best wishes for your senior year and your adventures beyond.

Submitted by Margaret P Levy (not verified) on Wed, 08/31/2022 - 11:42

Your writing is also very good, which I find rare these days. You could go into journalism if you wanted.

Thank you for all your good work these past two years.

Submitted by Marian (not verified) on Wed, 08/31/2022 - 11:55

In the name of full disclosure. Konah is my daughter, the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world!

If challenges and constraints on the job are important education and learning moments, pivoting and adapting are essential complimentary assets.
Konah, your mastery of the pen could not have come out any better. Congratulations

Submitted by Alfred Brownell (not verified) on Wed, 08/31/2022 - 16:45

Thanks, Konah for this report on your internship. I never would have thought of creating virtual experiences as a way to bring about a group's sense of community! You've opened my eyes to a new kind of group activity that clearly can be very useful in organizing. Best wishes for your future, and thank you for sharing your lesson, too. Do keep writing, ok?

Submitted by Pat Murphy (not verified) on Wed, 08/31/2022 - 17:08

Konah, thank you for a delightful reflection, and for your efforts to help make the list ves of RFC grantees even better. Not only did you learn a lot, but you have helped RFC grow and from your wisdom. Shalom, Patrick

Submitted by Patrick O'Neill (not verified) on Wed, 08/31/2022 - 19:42

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