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  • Katherine Guo

Day 0/1: Getting to DC and our First Learning Festival!

Updated: Jun 7

Sunday, Monday, June 4 & 5, 2023

Boston, MA --> Washington D.C.

Hey y’all, Andrew here and I got some pretty exciting updates about MIT Spokes and the beginning of our long adventure this summer!

This past Sunday, we embarked on our journey to DC starting from campus. However, because our support van can only hold a maximum of 3 bikes, we decided to rent another vehicle to transport the remaining bikes down to DC. Fortunately for us, it was a brand, BRAND new Toyota Tacoma truck (300 miles on the odometer!!). Needless to say, it made the ride super smooth and chill.

In the van, Lucy and Vin tag teamed the drive together, traversing through 6 states: Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland in (only) 10 hours. In the truck, Katherine and I took a similar route but we constantly had to take detours as multiple road closures occurred. Also, since I first started in Los Angeles before flying to Boston and driving through New York City until ending up in DC, I was in 4 major cities in the span of 24 hours (cool fun fact now).

The following day, we hosted our first Learning Festival! For those unfamiliar with the term, Learning Festivals are what we call the STEM workshops we host in towns along our route this summer. Each year, Spokes stops at ~10 schools, libraries, or summer camps across the country and we host exciting, hands-on workshops on topics related to science, technology, engineering, and math.

This year we continued the previous year’s legacy and incorporated a juvenile justice program to host workshops at. This was especially important to us as this demographic often gets overlooked and ignored. By maintaining this tradition, we were able to provide experiences that the kids would have not gotten otherwise due to limited funding and restrictions. At the Youth Services Center, we had a blast engaging with the kids, especially when they were trying to balance their entire body weight on paper cups in Vin’s activity, “Under Pressure.”

Just before reaching the Youth Services Center, quite literally a 2 minute walk at best, we unfortunately had gotten a flat tire. However, this was expected, as the Spokes team seemed to always get a flat tire at least once per summer. Last year, it was in the middle of Utah with the nearest repair shop hours away. In our case, we got the flat in a major city, where the closest shop was only 15 minutes away. Fortunately for us, they had the exact tire we needed and quickly installed it the same day, allowing us to get back on the open road.

While we were fixing the car, Joy and Vin went to the DC Jail with Judge Zia Faruqui, (who helped put this learning festival together with Spokes for the first time last year!) and one of his interns, Sara, to host a workshop with the adult high school students there. Afterwards, everyone met up to continue teaching at the Youth Services Center (YSC).

At the YSC, the Spokes team along with a few more law students, taught 4 learning activities, ranging from Leaf Chromatography to being “Under Pressure.” Huge shoutout again to Judge Faruqui (Far right) and Reentry Fellow Mariam Sayeed (Far left) for sharing with us their life-changing work in the criminal justice system and diversity in the legal industry.

After the learning festival, some members of the team seized the moment and explored the DC metropolitan area and saw historical landmarks that are filled with history. Vin (center) was able to see some pretty cool sights such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol building to name a few!

After returning back to our host, Heather, who by the way, is super awesome for allowing us to stay at her home for two days and providing many accommodations, Joy (left) and I (right) began putting the bikes back together and fine tuning. Both of us had our front disc rotor rubbing into the brake pads every time it spun. However, after a quick youtube video, we were able to figure out how to adjust the alignment and fix the problem! We both felt so accomplished.



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