Written by Sophia Elek, WLLC 2015-2016
Entering into this quarter, it was self-explanatory what we would be doing. The topic, Community Wellness, leaves no room for interpretation as Community implies our world bigger than the classroom. Pondering the world outside of our Wellness classroom, and the people I interact with, I began to think about what communities I really value.
Families are obviously a community. For me, I do not consider “family” to be people who are blood related to me, but rather people I have interacted with on a deeper level. Some of these people have been ones who needed help and thus lived with my immediate family growing up. Others are people who through time and experiences have sustained my trust.
Why is this relevant? Why did my mind jump to thinking about people in my life with whom I consider family? The answer is long winded and may not make the most sense, but I will try my best to explain.
The first three required readings for the quarter talked about community partnerships and using those partnerships for academic growth and educational learning. The readings all talked about students pairing with organizations in order for both parties to receive something. The community partner should receive a sustainable project that they can continue to use moving forward. The student should grow and eventually find they do work not to fulfill service hours/requirements but rather to fulfill a burning passion they have within.
“(Students) come from the university hoping to help us build a house, but with service-learning in context, that same student would understand why there is a lack of affordable housing, what is the impact of a lack of housing on the community, on a low-income family, on a neighborhood.” (Different Worlds and Common Ground: Community Partner Perspectives on Campus-Community Partnerships)
I was lucky enough to grow up in a service-learning environment. Take Agustus for example. Agustus is a Liberian immigrant who lived with my family for sometime as his older brother, Moses, got a life set up from them here in the states. I provided him with a service: a house to live in, food to eat, and good company as a new member of the United States. Through my service, Agustus provided me with knowledge and helped me grow as a person. He taught me about his life in Liberia, the war, his culture, and so much more. Both of us walked away from the situation better off than when we had first met. I, much like students who are required to do service, did not think anything would come out of the situation for me. I was very wrong.
Moving forward into this quarter, I remember everyone I have ever encountered that has impacted me like Agustus. Normally it is a two way street- I give them a service and in return they have taught me something that I will forever have. This is how people grow and how connections are made. I hope to continue making these relationships.