This is an opportunity for MANO staff and interns to get to know each other and support one another through the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cafecitos are a direct response to the isolation we are experiencing as a global community. It is our intention to create a space where folks can laugh, have fun, and build a network of Latinx leaders.
Interns from across the country, in different stages of their internships, joined the online space for an hour, getting to meet their fellow MANO peers for the first time. We had participants from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service join us.
This month, we led a drawing activity where volunteers selected one animal, one verb, and one adjective. They were asked to draw the animal that was described. The group had to draw an excited giraffe swimming. Our interns got creative and many are gifted artists! Someone drew a hippy giraffe, another drew a giraffe having a birthday party with a hippo friend, and someone else drew a giraffe surfboarding. This activity generated lots of laughs and appraisals from one another, making the space a fun and light-hearted conversation.
Every Cafecito begins with a fun icebreaker and is followed with an activity to get the conversation going. We asked interns to share a funny family memory that is still brought up to this day. The responses we received were so funny. The activity definitely brought our interns together as some asked where their families were from, and others reconnected over stories about shared experiences. By the end of the Cafecito, our cheeks hurt from laughing and smiling so much. These community moments, even virtually, are important to us.
During this pandemic, we are working closely with each intern to ensure they feel supported in all capacities and share any resources we can find. While Hispanic Access has worked virtually for a long time now, for many of our interns this is a new experience. Each of our interns are going through a unique experience. Some may be far away from their family, or living in a brand new city where they do not have a supportive network. It is our goal to give our interns a quality experience, even through these difficult times.
These Cafecitos are new to the MANO Project and to Hispanic Access Foundation. We have enjoyed getting to know our interns in these creative ways, and giving them a glimpse into our lives. We have enjoyed connecting with our interns virtually, and we hope to continue having Cafecitos beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Using online platforms may not be our preferred method of connection, but it has proven to be a promising tool for community engagement.