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Interns Abbollah Hamdan, left, 16, and David MacDannald, 17, teach blacksmithing skills to other interns at The Crucible's Fired Up Youth Camp on July 24, 2013, in Oakland.

OAKLAND -- David MacDannald and Abdollah Hamdan hit metal bars with a hammer, teaching the youth gathered around about blacksmithing. Except, the two are not professional blacksmiths; they are both high school students.

The two teens are involved with the FUEGO Internship Program, run through The Crucible, a nonprofit industrial arts and education warehouse space located in West Oakland. There are 11 interns, ranging in age from 15 to 18, who work with instructors in planning and running classes in their chosen areas of artistic study.

Abdollah, 16, lives in Oakland and has been involved with The Crucible for about four years now, where he hopes to continue working once he graduates. This is his first summer working as a youth leader in the program.

"I feel like I've accomplished a lot," said Abdollah, who hopes for an industrial career. "This has given me experience. I can go do whatever I want now, because I know what to do."

The internship program, which is in its fifth year, comes to a close at the end of the week. It starts as a five-week long camp for 600 to 700 youths and includes a two-week stint where interns help assist in teaching.

The interns teach classes in welding, jewelry making, glass blowing and flame working and blacksmithing. The purpose of the program, which is fully funded by the West Oakland Custom Alloy Scrap Sales, or CASS, is to educate young people in industrial arts.


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"It's an opportunity to really support them in expanding on their industrial and technical skills," said Carla Hall, youth program director, "but also support them as youth leaders and young teachers within the organization. This is something that really creates community and connection through the arts."

Interns start their day at 8 a.m., helping instructors set up. In the glass blowing class, where Gemma Baumer, 18, works, six students make paper weights and learn to handle glass before moving into more advanced techniques.

Baumer, a recent graduate of Bay School in San Francisco, took her first class in glass blowing at The Crucible two years ago. She said she gains "creative confidence" when she helps others learn through the internship program.

"It feels good to feel useful," Baumer added. "It's definitely youth empowerment. The Crucible is just such a community and it's just exciting to be a part of this."

Throughout the two-week program, each intern makes an art piece, puts together a portfolio and writes a biography to share with friends and family. On Thursday, the interns will have a dinner reception and exhibition to close the program.

Some students say their involvement with The Crucible has motivated them to become more involved in the future and help others learn.

"I like that I can do a lot of stuff here that I can't do at home," said Nathan Esterkyn, 13, who has been involved with The Crucible for about three years. "I'd like to be an intern too, because I like metalworking, and I like to help the people learning that."