Monday, November 15, 2010

Over the last few weeks I have become more acclimated to the routine at the Higher Achievement Program in Baltimore. This understanding has helped me better serve the scholars that are enrolled there. Each week Maura and I arrive at the school which hosts the program, meet with our group members, and then head off to a private classroom to continue our seminar on public speaking. Lately the scholars have been working on speeches about their interests and lifestyles, allowing us to better understand where they come from and so become closer to them in the process. While not all of them were welcoming to the idea of talking about themselves at first, with time they have become more relaxed and friendly. We are making progress in teaching them the material and in doing so are becoming closer to our group members. The program is meeting my expectations so far this semester and is something I have come to look forward to during the week.

Shane by Jack Schaefer is related to my service experience by what it says about individuals coming together. In the beginning of the novella, Shane and the Starrett family were on polite yet slightly removed terms. There seemed to be a hint of the unknown about Shane as displayed by his name and description, leaving some room for apprehension and suspicion. However, after working on taking out the tree stump the family and Shane seemed to become one entity. The idea of Shane helping Joe remove the eyesore, even though he was not obligated to do so, created a bond between the two that allowed each to understand the other man. In a similar manner, the act of serving at Higher Achievement has been able to connect Maura and me to the scholars. While it is not a matter of physical strength like the struggle with the old stump, the act of working towards a goal has brought us into contact with others in a way that nothing else could. The process of volunteering has allowed us to gain an understanding of others, and particularly a side of Baltimore that we would probably not see without volunteering for the program. By working with the scholars we have been able to gain insights into others that would be difficult to acquire under different circumstances.

My service experience at Loyola has been beneficial for me as it has kept me tied to my previous experiences and allows me to keep a perspective on my college life. By volunteering each week I have been able to help children in a positive environment. In addition I have been able to branch out from Loyola’s campus and come into contact with other Baltimore residents. Similarly to Shane, I was not obligated to serve with Higher Achievement but felt that I should anyway. The act of doing this has allowed me to see a different style of life, just like how Shane was able to change from his previous lifestyle to one that involves farming. My expectations regarding the program have been met and I look forward to next week’s session with excitement as I continue the progress that has been made in the last few weeks.

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