Good Morning!! Today is the start of our journey to Phoenix! As a component of our semester long course on genocide and refugees, our class will be in Phoenix for a week partaking in service-learning!
When I think of service learning I think of gaining firsthand knowledge of a social issue from those affected by the issue. Service learning is being receptive to understanding the needs of a community. “Good” service learning to me is like “good” social work (Can you guess my major?!) It involves being aware of our prejudices and biases so that we do not let them interfere with our interactions. Being aware of such prejudices and biases allows us to understand why we react the way we do. Good service learning involves knowing your values and applying those throughout the experience. For me, those values include respecting the dignity and worth of each individual, having integrity and being competent. Throughout my ASB trip in 2012, I did not feel as though I was competent to hold engaging conversation. Of course I had been briefed on the definition of a refugee and the area we were going to be serving in (Louisville). But I found that when I talked with refugees, who told me where they are from, I did know the history of the country(s) mentioned and therefore did not entirely understand their background. Since we are taking a course inclusive of readings on conflicts in other countries, I feel I have some competence. I know there is so much for me still to learn and am open to asking questions as they arise.
Additionally, I feel good service learning involves reflection and application. Reflection is asking the questions of what does this mean and what’s next? Reflection in a group allows everyone to form their thoughts and talk through difficult questions. Reflection is what brings someone from a volunteer mentality to that of an advocate.
So that my group and me are engaged in good service- learning, I will work to step outside my comfort zone. While on my ASB trip last spring, I saw a sign hanging in a boutique that read, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I felt the quote was so fitting for service-learning. It may make us uncomfortable to try something new, but there is so much to be gained when we do. I will strive to contribute my strengths to our group’s service learning. One of my strengths is cross cultural communication, if needed I will rephrase statements so they are better understood. I will also work to be mentally prepared for each day. I am still in the mentality of midterms week and it is difficult for me to not think about all that is due after spring break. However, I will work to focus on the present moment and not get caught up in things outside of our service-learning.