Service-Learning Reflection Paper
The project that I was involved in was giving the homeless people financial education. My group and I— I being the leader, prepared and presented financial literacy education to them. First of all, so as to encourage the attendance of a big audience, we announced that we would offer free meals. When they attended and each person got their share of the meals, I as the group-appointed speaker, addressed them. I gave them life skills that would be important in their lives. The skills that I offered them were searching for jobs and budgeting.
I had a bad impression on the situation. Before I had my own experience on community service, I always thought that such services were coerced voluntarism, they had no any real meaning, aim and that they were had no firm foundation. I had this perception because there was no one who ever divulged to me the significance of voluntary or community service. Even though the university program emphasized on students volunteering for the community service, the school had written nowhere on what to expect, to give unto the community or in what way we could go about it. I used a trial-and-error approach for my voluntary service in the community.
I obviously saw the need for my service. Then audience that attended confessed of not practicing what I was there to teach them. They confessed that they were lax in searching for jobs. Several of them claimed that rather than go and look for jobs, they depended on someone or hoped that someone would come out of the blues and offer them a job or connect them with someone who would employ them. Also, almost everyone admitted that they never they never budgeted and that they spent their income recklessly. I know my financial literacy education made a difference because the audience vowed that they would actively seek job opportunities, and even if they got lowly paying jobs, they would tread water before a better job came along; also, they vowed that they would budget their little income wisely.
The IU and the Kelley School play a vital role in working with community clients. The institution has a program called Alternative Break. The Alternative Break program enables the students to tour both regional and international places to address social problems. Examples of the regional trips include and not limited to Teaching for Tomorrow, Raising the Roof off Homelessness, Back to the Blackboard, and Housing with Habitat. The abroad travels are Teach with Outreach, and Making Education Numero Uno. The tours puts the students in a new situation which enhances them to understand those problems in real life issues (Templeton Foundation, 1999). When the students go back to the institution after the travels, the have possess the necessary skills and experience to offer direct service efforts to their societies. It also sets these upcoming leaders ready to integrate civic values into the business setting.
The service-learning project relates to the mission and vision of the institution in the following way— giving back to the community. The IU and the Kelly School has two programs whereby the institution emphasis on working together with the community and an initiative called High School Days which makes education presentations for regional high schools on various topics like corporate communication, managing time, and sales leadership (Rahima, 1997). It is also related to the class materials and topics in that it conforms with the institutions mission of working together with parties running not-for-profit operations. Moreover, it aligns with the Indiana University’s market division mission of showing the society’s identity and image to its corporate sponsors, the Indiana University in general, and more specifically, the Kelly School of Business.
Lastly, is the institution’s vision of its client services department; whereby, it has the responsibility of offering services to its corporate sponsors and the community aiming to create and develop a good relationship between the community members and the corporate sales personnel (Dara et al, 2009). On top of fostering a relationship with the community’s sponsors and the alumni; the community service is an efficient way of ensuring a close connection with the society and asserting its presence in the community activities.
I did well in tutoring the part of the community that we had targeted. I did this well because one day I had envisioned myself educating an audience, even though no idea crossed my mind that it had to be a voluntary task. Therefore, I had prepared myself psychologically by keeping a small notebook. I carried the notebook with me wherever I went and wrote notes that I felt would be handy one day and I often consulted the notebook and other relevant materials.
There is something that I did somehow poorly. Whenever I am addressing a big audience, whether familiar to me or not, I tend to be nervous and shy. When addressing an audience, I have a feeling that there are lots of eyes running on my form. I try to concentrate on what I am doing but if I momentarily let my mind wander off and contemplate what the audience is perhaps doing, assessing me, I start describing using irrelevant words. At the community service that I was attending, I was distracted by a homeless child who kept on telling me to hold him shoulder-high and calling me “uncle”. I must admit that the child was dirty and I could not envision my pressed hard to a knife-edge precision three-piece suit getting dirt, yet, the child nagged. No one came to my rescue, not even my colleagues and even the society members watched anticipating the move that I would take. By then, my speech was filled with redundancies and terms such as “I mean”, “rather,” and “sorry”. Before the child could swallow its pride and move away from the unresponsive “uncle”, save for my colleagues and very few of the society members, the others were having a good time as they laughed themselves off.
Another thing that I did poorly was taking too long to respond to the questions that the society members were asking. I wasn’t prepared for any questions that would be asked. Before I could finally answer their questions, it took a considerable duration of time. The experience gave me a little more courage as it alleviated my shyness. Also, it enlightened on the need for anticipating unforeseeable factors such as questions or unavoidable obstacles. My perspective on voluntary community service changed from seeing it as a coercion and aimless to a hospitality service. Next time, I would appoint one of my colleagues to be in charge of avoidable but unforeseeable distractions such as noise or like the child’s case.
In conclusion, my experience on the community service changed my perception very much. I always had the notion that the community services were irrelevant. However, my participation in them proved me wrong. If I never got the answer first-hand, perhaps no one would convince ever convince me otherwise. I would recommend those who have perceptions like those were mine to try and investigate for themselves— obviously, through participation. Another recommendation; the institutions should give a crystal-clear explanation on what is community service, significance of volunteering, and describe how there’s a mutual relationship between the volunteer and the community.
Templeton Foundation. (1999). Colleges That Encourage Character Development: A Resource for Parents, Students, and Educators. Radnor, Pennsylvania: Templeton Foundation Press.
Wade, R. S. (1997). Community Service-Learning: A Guide to Including Service in the Public School Curriculum. Albany: SUNY Press.
Zafran, D., JMU Graduate Psychology-Combined Integrated Clinical and School Psychology. (2009). Community Service-learning: Evaluation of Student Development with a Focus on Self-reflection. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest.