Service Learning Interview: Why I Aspire to Join the Service Learning Class

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How Do You Envision the Population in the Community That We Will Be Serving?

Please elaborate on your fears, concerns, prior experiences, expectations, and perceived challenges.

I will be working with kids in grades 2nd-6th who are dealing with various hardships, whether that be living in low-income areas, family dilemmas, foster care, moving to a new country, etc. Since these kids are so young I am not sure if they fully comprehend exactly what they are going through or what privileges they don’t have. This being said I expect most of them to still be positive and happy and talk openly about their experiences. I have worked with kids before and I think that when they are young the smaller things in life such as getting punished, not behaving properly, or getting something taken away greatly affects them to the point of sometimes pouting or crying to get their way. Although I do believe their experiences are shaping them as they grow up I don’t expect the kids to be sad or depressed as I work with them because of how young they are, even though to an older person they are dealing with serious things. My director explained to me that I should monitor what I say around them because you never know if growing up or even currently you have something that they don’t or can’t have. For example, once he asked a kid what his parents got him for a present and the child explained that his parents had passed away. I think not let something like that slip when talking to one of the kids will be one of the biggest challenges for me.

How Do You Think Working With People From Diverse Populations Will Affect Your Experience?

I think it will greatly affect how I view and think about the community I live in. I have a firm belief that everyone at some point in their life should volunteer because it allows people to recognize the reality of what’s going on in their community. I feel like many people hear about poverty, homelessness, immigration, woman’s rights, and various other issues but it doesn’t fully resonate with them because they may have never experienced it or seen it first-hand. Unfortunately, I think this makes people naïve or rash when deciding how they feel about these issues which, in turn, can spread dislike or a lack of compassion for these groups. This being said I am grateful I have had the opportunity to work with various minorities and that I will be working with kids that also need recognition this semester. I think working with this population will encourage me to reevaluate the people around me and understand that not everyone grew up the same way and with the same privileges. I also believe that working with these kids will inspire me to stay positive and persistent because even when they fall off their skateboard they pick themselves up and try again.

What Do You Currently Know about Community Issues Facing the Population That You Would Like to Work with this Semester?

Include how you know this information.

When I spoke with my director he explained to me that the kids we would be working with come from all over the world and from various living situations. He informed me that some of the kids grew up in foster care, some are refugees, and many come from under-served areas. All the schools that I will be working with have allowed Skate After School to become part of their after-school activity program in order to help better serve the kids and encourage them to take part in something new and engaging. After researching about the program and watching a short video on Skate After Schools website, I learned that with the program the schools tend to see a spike in attendance, better attitudes in the classroom, and better grades. I feel like it’s hard to keep younger kids engaged in school in the first place and that working with ones who are struggling with personal issues outside of school could be more difficult. However, having programs like this and seeing the community get involved and take a stand to, in some way, better these kids’ lives in and out of the classroom is inspiring.

What are You Currently Doing to be Civically Engaged in Your Community?

List and describe your activities. Then, discuss how your actions affect you as an individual and the community as a whole.

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I signed up for this class because I used to volunteer in high school with a small group called Key Club. We volunteered at multiple places including Andres House, St. Mary’s Food Bank, Maggie’s Place, St. Vincent de Paul, etc. and it was always an enlightening experience. I have recently been wanting to work within the community again and when I saw this class I thought it would be a great opportunity to get back out there and find some new places to volunteer with. Now I am working with underprivileged kids in the Skate After School program teaching them valuable learning lessons and encouraging them to keep trying and learning new things. At first, I was interested in doing something to help the environment but then I realized I’m already doing a small part by picking up trash at local parks and that I’d rather be working directly with the community. I’m glad I chose to work with Skate After School and I plan to possibly keep working with them even after the semester ends.

Do You Think that All People in the United States Have the same Rights and Opportunities? Why or why not?

I do believe that everyone in the U.S. should have the same opportunities. I think everyone should have the same resources and chances no matter their skin color, religion, gender, etc. and I believe this because we are all human regardless of what makes us up as an individual. I don’t think it’s even moral to say that one person deserves more than another just because of one of those factors, in fact, it’s not even logical in my opinion to judge a person based on their attributes. I think anybody of any gender or race could achieve their goals and accomplish great things if everyone was actually given equal opportunity. I do believe one should have to work hard to achieve such things, but I disagree that biases should ever impede on an individual’s rights and opportunity to get there. I think one of the saddest things is the children that grow up in poverty because from the start they are not given the same resources as others. This leads to an expanding cycle of homelessness, poverty, and inequality. I believe that those who are better off should research and realize that a majority of those who do not have equal opportunities do not live in those conditions because they are lazy or incompetent, but rather need support and recognition for the way society has let them sink to the bottom.

Describe and Discuss Your Goals for this cClass in Each of the Following Areas

(Reminder: Your response in each section must meet the word count range described above.):

Personal Goals

My personal goals in this class consist of me expanding my knowledge of the younger generation in need and helping them as much as possible. I hope to improve their lives whether that be by me helping them up after they fall, encouraging them throughout the semester, or teaching them something new. I personally would like to see improvement in the kids I work with whether that be via skateboarding or hearing about their actions in the classroom or at home. I hope to become more understanding and open-minded working with these kids and I also hope to make some new friends and find new connections within the program. I would like to maybe help fundraise a project in the future to help raise some money for the kids and the program. I would also like to inform some of my friends who also board to consider volunteering and hopefully help expand the amount of assistant they receive.

Career Goals

Career wise I would like to own my own coffee shop in the future which doesn’t have much to do with this specific service however there are a few connections that this will provide me with. My director Tim is an entrepreneur himself seeing as he built this whole service project from just an idea. I also spoke with another one of the directors whom is also an entrepreneur and owns his own valet car service. During our short talk he gave me a little bit of his background and how he came to own his business. He encouraged me to pick his brain about the topic and if I ever had any questions he would be willing to answer them for me. In choosing this internship I have already made a few connections in the field that I wish to pursue in the future and I will also have some experience working in a small business/volunteer company that started from the ground and has quickly built up.

Academic Goals

(Include how your service experience will relate to your program of study)

I think volunteering within the community not only benefits the community in which you are helping but also you as a person. Companies love to see students being active within their community and volunteering is a great way to show them the wide variety of skill sets you bring to the table. Personally, I would like to run my own business so in WPC this volunteering opportunity will be a great thing to write down on my resume. I think this service experience could also lead to greater opportunities to better myself and the community whether that be learning about other volunteering options or helping Skate After School with projects. Academically I would like to do some more in-depth research about the community I am serving because although I know the basics of why we are reaching out to these specific kids, I would like to learn more about their families and how/why they got in these situations.

What Do You Hope to Learn/Gain by Participating?

I hope to learn as much as I can about the kids that I am working with and to gain better knowledge on the community they are living in. I also would like to spread my knowledge that I gain from this experience and pass it on to others who don’t know as much about the subject. I also hope to gain some insight on how to better these low-income areas and improve the daily lives of the younger generation that has no other choice but to grow up within it. I am excited for this opportunity and I hope that it widens my views on all sorts of topics including refuges, foster care, and poverty. I hope to gain more compassion, understanding, and patience as I talk to these kids and teach to the best of my abilities. I also hope to be more optimistic as I get to work with others just as dedicated to improving the lives of others. Sometimes it’s hard to get past the negativity and naivete especially with everything currently happening in the world today but being able to help others and impact someone’s life that needs it can be eye opening.

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