After three weeks of relaxation and anticipation, the Gettysburg Heston group returned to campus and began orientation on Monday morning. It was great seeing everyone again, exploring our new living space, and talking about our expectations for the weeks ahead of us.

On Monday morning, the group met at the CPS office and focused our discussion on Globalization and Migration. Not only were we able to look deeper into migration issues around the world, we also had the opportunity to share our own family stories about how we arrived in America and why. It was a nice way to learn more about my housemates, but more importantly I think we all recognized the similarities and trends that arise out of centuries of migration.

In the afternoon, we had the chance to meet with several experts in the Gettysburg area pertaining to the fields and populations we will be working in and with. We began our talks with Betsey Wargo, the Community Nutritionist and Diabetes Educator at Wellspan Adams Health Center. As the summer intern with the Food Policy Council and Campus Kitchen, I had the opportunity to meet with Betsey Wargo weeks prior about her work with food demonstrations at the Gettysburg Farmer’s Market. She’s very passionate about her work and extremely welcoming to Gettysburg College students. Our question and answer session with Betsey focused on rising diabetes rates, nutritional benefits of fresh foods, educating children on healthy cooking and eating habits, as well as portion sizes and consumer power.
We then moved on to Emily Rice-Townsend, the Circles Initiative Coordinator. The Circles Initiative is an absolutely amazing program supported by the South Central Community Action Program (SCCAP) that engages the community in a fight to end poverty. Circle Leaders, who consist of low income participants, go through a curriculum called Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World and are matched up with three or more allies, supporters from the community. Emily spoke to us about the major challenges people in poverty face including the $15,000 wage gap between the point at which people lose their benefits ($30,000) and the point at which they are self-sufficient ($45,000). She compared trying to get out of poverty to walking off a cliff. For those who attempt it, things get much worse before they get better. She also focused on the need to make poverty a community problem rather than an individual problem. I think speaking with Emily opened many eyes and brought our group closer together in a common struggle that we are now so vividly aware of as active parts of the community. Though I am lucky enough to cook for Circles every week through Campus Kitchen and then attend the meetings, I think many of the other Heston interns will attend as well just for the positive experience and community bonding.

Our next stop was at the Adams County Office for the Aging (ACOFA) to meet with Linda Thompson. We learned about the many programs offered to people sixty years and older in the community, as well as the positives and negatives of the incoming Boomers generation. While the number of aging community members will increase the involvement at ACOFA, much of it will be focused on civic engagement activities. As many people retire and move to Pennsylvania from the DC metropolitan area, Linda expects a rise in elderly that want to help others rather than those who need assistance. Gia Galatro is this summer’s Heston intern with ACOFA. I look forward to learning more about her experiences this summer and further understanding the role of ACOFA in our community.

Finally, we met with Jim Remcheck, the Educator for Ag Economic Development at the Adams County Extension Office. We learned about farming advancements, the Young Grower’s Association, and the growing local foods movement. Meeting with Jim increased our understand of how sustainability in the social, economic, and environmental areas of life drive our work this summer and permeate through the philosophy of CPS.

Discussing sustainable communities and setting expectations for ourselves was the focus of Tuesday, our second day of orientation. While we began the day by working at Campus Kitchen and delivering meals to the always friendly group at the Senior Center, we later engaged in conversation and debriefing of all we learned the day before. It is clear that many of us have opposing views on some issues, but the respect we hold for each other creates a great atmosphere for honestly. I foresee many late night conversations surrounding the complex problems we are all facing this summer – be it food justice, migrant education, or life-skills.

I dare say no amount of orientation could completely prepare us for our first days tomorrow and coming weeks at our agencies, but I think that will be the fun part. We all set expectations for ourselves. Mine were to gain confidence in handling unexpected “bumps in the road” and, more importantly, to use this summer as a chance to live outside of myself – to really focus on those around me rather than my own small world. This is just the beginning of what we will gain from our Heston summer. From Gettysburg to Nicaragua to Uganda…we will no doubt receive more than we give.

Devan Grote
Gettysburg Heston Intern for the Campus Kitchen and the Food Policy Council