Although I have been trying to begin my service work as required for the course since the beginning of the year, my first actual service day was October twenty-fifth. Higher Achievement attracted me as it both fit my schedule and offered an opportunity to branch out from the typical Loyola community. The program involves mentoring seventh grade students who have committed to studying three nights a week. I enjoyed teaching during past service experiences and felt as if dedicating one night a week would be an easy way to maintain my previous values on volunteering. Although I was unsure of what awaited me I looked forward to serving with the program and assisting in its goal of academic achievement.
My first service experience at Loyola was a positive one. On arriving at the school which hosts one of the Higher Achievement centers I was immediately integrated into the environment and tasked with helping scholars finish their essays for a course in public speaking. The scholars were surprisingly excited and motivated to finish their work despite it being 7:30p.m. on a Monday. Although I first feared that the studious atmosphere might eliminate any chance for lighter conversation, the public speaking seminar I was assisting with left the door wide open for understanding the lives of the scholars. I enjoyed my first night at service and am looking forward to next week's meeting.
My service learning experience is connected to Richard Hague's "Directions for Resisting the SAT" because both place a strong emphasis on independence. While service learning presented many difficulties and is unrelated to my major, I selected it because I felt that it would be beneficial for me to pursue. My parents and peers questioned me as to my motive and showed disapproval towards the service I volunteered for but I stuck with it because I felt it was something I should do. Similarly, Hague's poem disregards the traditional values and expectations of caregivers and society and instead focuses on being independent. The idea that students about to take the SAT should disregard the test and instead "Desire to live whole" (line 12) and "Make your mark on everything" (line 16) demonstrates that the individual can find success without conforming to the expectations of others. Hague even advises that individuals live "Like an oyster or snail" (line 13), a reference that signifies creating barriers to protect the individual from the dangers of society. Rather than conform to the expected, I chose to pursue an experience that I may not have the opportunity to select in the future. In the process I found success after protecting my thoughts from the opinions of others. Similarly, Hague directs individuals to disregard the expectations of society and instead stay true to who they are. My service learning at Higher Achievement and Hague's poem are both connected by the theme of disregarding society's expectations.