Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Semester of Service

Well, it's December now. Which means my first semester as a college student and also as a volunteer tutor is coming to an end. I can't even believe how quickly it went. I don't know what I can really say about service. I don't think I really "fell in love" with it like everyone else. I mean, I've learned so much and I'm so proud of my learner that has improved so much. But I don't think I'm really interested in tutoring. At least not math and reading anyway. My learner and I are both pretty reserved but we really managed connect. At the last session, she really opened up to me about something personal. And I felt like we really bonded. She really is an extraordinary person. And I'm really hoping she sticks with CFL. I may not enjoy tutoring but I'll gladly be her tutor for the rest of the year.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Object

When asked to think of a meaningful object within the CFL, I immediately felt nervous. I honestly couldn't think of a single thing. Not that it's a bad thing, but the CFL doesn't have very much to it. It's a small classroom connected to offices, that I've only seen one side of, and the walls are mostly blank. I couldn't exactly attribute significance to any of it. Did the chairs and chalkboard really symbolize anything to me? But when I got there on Monday, I made sure to keep my eye out for little things I'd been missing. I tried to be more observant of the place around me.
I was the first one to get out of the service van, and within a few small steps I already found my object. How have I never noticed that the door was blue? I'd been to the CFL a few times, but I guess I just followed everyone else in. There was something about it's light, sky blue color that made it so calming, so inviting. I decided this was it. And it's going to sound corny, but door is a wonderful symbol. It's not just a door into a building, it's a door into a new experience, a new life, and a new world. For the learners, this door opened up to many new places and opportunities. In this place, they would receive the education that would prepare them for a job and a better life. And for us, well, it was a new experience, just like college. I'm sure even though some of us have done some sort of community service, we've never had to tutor an adult. I think through this we will learn something for ourselves too. And the door also means something to me personally. This is me making the best of my own education. This door is going to be the first of many doors that will lead me to a new place. And I'm very excited for it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Midterm Reflection

I haven't been here for very long, but I can honestly say that I'm not the same person I was when I first set foot on campus. Going away to college has forced me to live independently in every aspect. And not just having to cook for myself or having to learn how to get around the city on my own, but I've noticed my professors expect more of me. While they teach a lot in class, there is a lot I have to teach myself on my own. But even deeper than that, it has changed me as a person. I feel like this school is making me the best version of myself. Or at least, it is inspiring me to do so. I'm becoming more out-going, more involved, more aware, and more educated. I fall more and more in love with this school everyday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reading Rosa Lee

This took me a while to write. But I'm almost unsure how to feel about Rosa Lee. This woman's story seems all too familiar. Rosa Lee lived in a life of poverty and because of this she resorted to drugs and stealing. She and her children were caught in a cycle. I think what hit me the hardest was the involvement of drugs. Rosa practically ran a drug business in her household. She would use her children and even her grandchildren to sell drugs so that she wouldn't get caught. This was how she got money. It wasn't long before Rosa Lee got caught up in the drugs herself. And not only herself, but her daughter, Patty. Patty began to exhibit destructive behavior. And I find it so difficult to read. I try not to make too much of a connection. But it reminds me of how, just a few months ago, I lost my aunt to a drug overdose. This stuff happens everyday. Sometimes this book makes me so angry. But in reality, how can they help it? This is how they were taught. There was no other way.  

Now, Miss A and I didn't talk too much about her life outside of the CFL. And she does seem like a clean and "well-to-do" person. So it's hard to relate her to such an extreme case. But she is without a job and she cannot read. So she does have her own struggles.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day 1

     I would not use the word "excited" to describe the way I was feeling waiting for the service learning van. I had four classes nonstop that day and I'd been entirely drained. Typical Monday. So I waited there. Even with my training, I still wasn't sure I was ready. But instead of focusing on being nervous, I focused on my pathetic excuse for a meal (A nature valley snack bar) and tried to savor it because it was the only thing I'd be eating for the next three and a half hours. 

     On the ride there, the nervousness really sunk it. I was not ready for this. I looked around at everyone else. Were they as nervous as me? Everyone was nicely dressed (maybe not dressed up but still a lot more presentable and then there was me in my jeans and oversized hoodie. I felt out of place. I also managed to forget my CFL packet, the only thing I needed for this day.
    We walked in and all of the learners were already seated and ready to go. I looked around and tried to guess who mine would be. But I'd find that out shortly anyway. I made sure to keep a smile on my face. And I said a hello to the ladies I passed as I found a seat. I was shaking. Mark began his introduction speech and announced who we would be matched up with.
    This was when I met my learner, Miss A. She was a quiet woman (or maybe she was nervous too) and she wore the most gorgeous african robe. She told me she was born in Africa and she moved here due to the war in her country. When she came with her family to America, she never enrolled in school. She hasn't been in a classroom since she was 10. I thought that was really interesting, but also really sad. This made me really want to help her. She seemed very interested in learning as much as she could. That day we started with spelling, reading, and we even started typing. 
    I'm still not sure if service is for me but I'm going to try my very best. Hopefully, as we get to know each other better, Miss A and I will become good friends. I feel this is an experience we will both learn from.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thoughts on Service

     I knew from the start that I wanted to be involved in community service here at SJU. But to be honest, I've never really participated in any face to face experience. Sure, I've donated to charities or started fundraisers. But when my professor explained to us that we would be a tutor for an adult that never learned to read, I'll admit I became very nervous. 

     While I am friendly, I'm by nature, quite introverted. And I'm terrible at talking to adults. So, this has made me a little scared. Being a tutor is a huge deal. I'm directly impacted someone else's life. Am I really ready to do that? Would I be good enough? It's pretty nerve-racking. On Monday, we had training and I think that helped calm me down. I don't know what I should expect to see, but I know what I have to do. 
     I don't know what it is going to be like. But I just have to keep telling myself I can do it. Hopefully, I can make a difference in someone's life. My plan is to just go in open-minded and with my guard let down. This is going to be a great experience for the both of us.

Monday, September 19, 2011


When told of this assignment, I knew that there were many examples of artistic brilliance around campus. I wasn't sure what I wanted to take a picture of. But I finally decided that this particular piece was the most relevant to my goals here at Saint Joseph's University. It's a 3-D wallhanging inside of Barbelin. I'm not exactly sure what it depicts but it looks like some historical event in India. I pass this piece every day on my way to my first required course for my major. So in a way, it reminds me of what I need to stay focused on and what I need to learn. It's also interesting to me because I love foreign cultures. This piece is my opening to the rest of the world.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

12 Observations

1. The campus is absolutely breathtaking
     I remember visiting this college a few times while making my decision of where to spend the next four years. And I always thought it was a pretty place. But now that I'm actually living and experiencing it, I can really appreciate it. I find myself walking around thinking "Wow! This is beautiful."

2. People here are genuinely friendly
    I can't think of another place I've been to where so many people said hi to you when you walked by or thanked you for opening a door. People here are so nice.

3. I'm going to have a lot more work to do here
     Seriously. I spent 3 hours on Chinese homework.

4. The dining hall is nice
     I have to give it to the school. For cafeteria food, it's not bad at all. And while some things are better than others, there's a ton of variety.

5. But it also has it's downs
     Problem is, here we're forced into buying a bagillion dollar meal plan for a dining hall that is never open when you want it to be. Why is it that all the doors are locked at dinner time?!

6. This school is going to challenge me
     Who knew I'd have a test the first week of school? or that I'd have to teach an international student english while he teaches me Chinese? And I have to balance my school work, of course.

7. Becoming best friends with your roommate is an awesome thing
    You don't have to be friends with your roommate. In fact, I knew several people that weren't and still got by fine. But I'm really glad that my roommate and I hit it off so well. Even though I'm new and I don't have too many friends, I always have someone to eat with or someone just to hang out with when I'm bored.

8. I have a ton of free time, but not as much free time as I think I do.
    Which is actually why for right now 9 to 12 aren't getting descriptions. I'll be back to edit later.

9. I'm going to miss everything about home

10. Getting adjusted to living on your own is easier than you think

11. It takes time to make friends. Always be patient.

12. These are going to be the best four years of my life.