Today we welcome Global Kids to Goodworks! Global Kids works to ensure that urban youth have the knowledge, skills, experiences and values they need to succeed in school, participate effectively in the democratic process, and achieve leadership in their communities and on the global stage. A nationally known educational nonprofit, Global Kids combines global learning, youth development, and experiential learning strategies to work closely with underserved, at-risk youth, to improve their academics, prepare them for college and careers, and to cultivate the next generation of leaders.
Tshala Pajibo is a senior at McKinley Technology High School who plans to study literature next year in college. She joined Global Kids this summer for the Global Gateways Summer Institute and was selected to be one of the eight students who travelled to Costa Rica for a week-long service-learning trip. Tshala is a long-time resident of Columbia Heights who is active in her community and at church.
Complexities of Development: An Account by Tshala Pajibo
Here in Costa Rica we have been learning about development and some of the complexities that come with it. It really resonated with me and my experience in DC.
You see, the house that I live in- my grandma’s house – is really, really old. They have been in Columbia Heights since the Great Migration. The house, which used to be painted pink to keep it cool in the DC heat, is the family center- from family meetings to cookouts to graduation parties. Everything is held there.
It used to be in a shady neighborhood where you couldn’t go out after dark. Then it started getting better, when neighbors started looking after one another. Then the local stores started to leave. The carry-out that my brothers frequented moved because they weren’t getting business. Now there’s a strip of chain stores like Sprint, 7/11, and Target. Meanwhile, the empty houses on the block started getting fixed up, so they didn’t look weird.
That’s when my family got a letter from the DC government saying that we would have to paint our house. My grandma has always had the house painted pink to keep it cool. Now the letter said that the house was too different and was impacting the property values of other houses. It’s already hard to meet the changing prices of things, so we painted the house brown and burgundy to avoid fines.
With the increases in property tax and the cost of living, poor people are forced to move from their homes. My neighbors have changed from being families who have been here forever to people that stay for just a few years.
It’s these changes that make gentrification hard. It may not seem significant that my family had to paint over the pink paint that my grandmother loved so much, but it’s an example of how sometimes I feel like I am being made invisible in my own neighborhood. It makes me understand how some of the people in Puerto Viejo feel now that they are being move from their land for development.
To learn more about Global Kids, please visit: http://globalkids.org/#/our-programs/washington-dc