1. What is your definition of community service? Do you expect it to change through this experience? If so, in what ways?
Community service is about using your abilities to do something to help other people, and, in its purest form, without expecting anything in return. A core idea of community service is that everyone has something they can offer. Without this help, many great organizations that are hard-pressed as it is would have to expend extra resources. I don’t think my definition of community service will change much through this experience, but it will be tweaked because service is a little different everywhere depending on where you do it.
2. Why have you chosen to explore this particular community service opportunity?
I’m interested in Change for Kids because I want to teach after college and grad school, and I’m always looking for new opportunities to gain experience in a school or classroom setting. I like Change for Kids because I appreciate and agree with its mission to help under-resourced schools help kids. Over the past two summers, I’ve tutored a class of 3rd graders and a class of 4th graders in Sunset Park, Brooklyn – a neighborhood with a history of under-resourced education. It was a great experience, and has really motivated me to want to make a difference when I become a teacher.
3. How do you think this particular community service experience will influence you as a person and as a scholar?
I think that volunteering for Change for Kids could definitely influence me to seek out more volunteering opportunities at under-resourced schools after this program ends. At the moment, I’m more interested in schools that could be defined as “easy,” even though I know that’s not where the most help is needed. CFK could motivate me to help and one day work at a school where it’ll be more challenging, but more significant.
Hopefully, as a scholar, Change for Kids will influence me to maybe one day go back to school to study administration and become a principal, school administrator, or Department of Education administrator. These positions would allow a person to change not just a few classes of students a year, but the whole education system, all the while remembering experiences likeCFK to stay aware and grounded of what the real problems are.
4. Do you see this community service experience as being connected to larger political, social, cultural, and economic issues?
Education is always connected to larger political, social, cultural, and economic issues. Politically, it is no secret that quality education has been suffering as a result of ongoing battles between the teachers’ unions and the government.
Socially, there exists an easily observable disparity in the education of children, with some neighborhoods doing far better than others, and yet with very slow change to bring the stragglers up to speed. Furthermore, there is the issue ofcontinued segregation practiced almost unchallenged in our schools, which is a huge issue impossible to cover in a short questionnaire.
Culturally, I believe there is not enough attention placed on public schools in America other than College. Parents, teachers, and administrators cannot agree on solutions to the many problems facing public elementary, junior high, and high schools. Rather, the rate at which we instead implement and then discard various short-term fixes only locks our schools in confusion and the same problems.
Economically, Change for Kids operates in under-resourced schools that are short in funding and quality staffing but high in need for help. That’s why volunteering is so important, it provides free and quality help to kids in under-resourced schools.
I think that, without a doubt, Change for Kids is a product of necessity of all of these forces. Like other similar programs, it can only try to lessen the adverse effects of these many forces on students, the innocent guinea pigs of a broken system.
5. Is this community service experience related to topics/issues you have discussed in any of your classes? Explain.
This community service is absolutely related to topics and issues I’ve covered in classes here at Baruch. I minored in Education and took four courses covering the theories of learning, the psychology of children and adolescents in an urban context, an introduction to urban education, and the problems of contemporary education; the lessons I learned in these classes are highlighted in my response to question 4 above. Also, as a History major, I’ve taken classes on the history of America and on the Civil Rights Movement in particular, during which time many of our nation’s terrible errors in education were challenged. All in all, I’m passionate about wanting to make things better because my courses have shown me repeatedly how bad things are. That’s not to say the system has no benefits, because it certainly does, but I think it’s important to maintain that there is still A LOT to do to make it even better.