Talk First, Eat Later

By Antoinette Hayford

The environment that I choose to immerse myself in for the semester was the E.K. Powe Elementary School cafeteria. Often overlooked as just a place where students eat, the cafeteria is a rich space full of dialogue, connections, and learning opportunities. No matter the age, students experience what it's like to independently make decisions, socialize with their peers, resolve conflicts, and fulfill their assigned responsibilities. There were some days where students faced hardships such as exhaustion or loneliness, but for the most part the kids that I encountered all had stories to share and were always willing to listen to what their friends had to say. Another thing that I noticed while spending my afternoons in the cafeteria was the abundance of smiles and laughter from students. The joy that the students expressed in the cafeteria is irreplaceable and I am so grateful that I got to relive my childhood experiences in the cafeteria.