Sunday, September 25, 2011

Imagining Service

It is difficult to express my expectations going into my first day of service at the Center for Literacy. It is a completely new experience for me, along with most of my classmates. I have never traveled to this area of Philadelphia and I have never tutored adults before. This will be an entirely new environment and I expect to be filled with mixed emotions. Tutoring adults to learn how to read, write, and do math will be a truly rewarding, but challenging experience. I feel privileged to have the opportunity, but at the same time I am nervous stepping into CFL for the first time.
As we are dropped off at CFL, I imagine we will be in an environment completely different than what we know. We are all so familiar and comfortable with the SJU campus, that stepping outside of the van will be a completely new territory. We will most likely be in an impoverished neighborhood. Our surroundings might be dangerous and I imagine people wandering the streets glaring at us and judging us on our appearance. I will feel like I do not belong, but I have to remember that we are there for a reason. I am going there to change an individual’s life.
I feel that there will be a lot of pressure on the first meeting with my learner. I am worried that I will say something wrong or that I will not be able to do what I am supposed to do. I know that there will be a lot of thoughts going through my head but the most important thing is to create a bond with my learner and allow him or her to open up and feel comfortable. I expect the learners to be somewhat apprehensive and of course nervous themselves. What I have to keep in mind, is that this will be an incredible experience. I have heard amazing things about service and I cannot wait to experience it myself. I know that this experience will be inspiring and life changing for both my learner and myself. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Taking Your Education

As I was walking around campus, I was more observant of my surroundings instead of just chatting with my friends or wondering what they were serving for dinner at Campion. I noticed things that I had never noticed before. I stared at everything from the noisy construction to the beautiful nature. Although I was taking in the campus, I could not find something that represented “taking my education.”

I thought about the discussion on our education system and how schools are like factories producing children who cannot think for themselves. Also, I considered how most schools employ the "banking model" of education, silencing each students' voice. With this type of environment, it is necessary to take it upon myself to learn. I need to engage myself in my own education and not be suppressed by the system. Therefore, it is my own responsibility to not get lost in the shuffle of students who are simply “receiving their education.”

Something that I felt exhibited this attitude was the “One Way” sign I passed on Lapsley Lane. It reminded me of the factories our schools have become and how kids are dragged in one direction and taught there is only one answer to everything. Students are instructed that there is only “one way” to do something. But when you take your education, you think critically and think beyond. You discover that there is more to life than what is right in front of you, than what is simply given to you in school. But, you have to take a new way to find it. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

12 First Impressions of SJU

1. The people here are exceptionally nice. Everyone on campus is very welcoming and here to help one another. No one will be downright rude to you in your face, at least as far as I have experienced. And the sense of community is evident, which makes for a comfortable environment and easy transition.

2. Sharing a bathroom with 40 other girls is absolutely disgusting. Some girls think that they can rinse their dishes and leave pieces of food in all of the sinks, leaving the rest of us repulsed as we brush our teeth. I do anything possible to not touch the walls of the shower, which always seem never to be cleaned and always covered with hair.

3. The Internet at SJU is very unpredictable and annoying. It seems that whenever I am trying to do work, or anything for that matter, the wireless on my decides to not work. I find myself clicking “Turn AirPort Off” then “Turn AirPort On” more times than I can count throughout the day, which as you imagine can get extremely frustrating.

4. I have free time in college that I don’t know what to do with. So far, I am still getting used to my schedule and I’ve been getting into the swing of things. But, adjusting to my daily routine here is very different. During high school, I was always so busy at school all day, then sports after, and homework all night. College life is a different story.

5. Naps will be my best friend. I was always a “nap-person” in high school, but that was when I actually never had time for them. Here, I frequently take naps, and it is the best thing ever. Luckily, I get done my classes pretty early so I don’t have to worry about sleeping through a class.

6. The best thing to do on campus is get involved. I felt like I heard that from everyone I talked to that went or still goes to St. Joe’s. But, it’s true. The activities fair was somewhat overwhelming and I signed up at a lot of tables. So hopefully, I will achieve the “getting involved” aspect of SJU once all the clubs get started.

7. I got used to walking around campus quicker than I expected. I thought it would be really hard to find all of the buildings and rooms my classes are in but I already have a really good sense of the campus and where everything is. I expected to feel like a little freshman, lost on campus and I was surprised by how fast I became oriented with SJU.

8. The campus is perfect. It is just the right size, where you don’t have to take a shuttle to class but you don’t recognize every face walking around. I love that SJU has its own campus but is in a city. It is like we have the best of both worlds. For me, Philly is the ideal place to be. Some people don’t like having to walk around, but I love it. The campus is pretty, especially with the old buildings.

9. College classes start right away. Professors don’t waste anytime. In most of my classes I already have so much work. Even after the first day of classes, I was already assigned homework. I have also realized the majority of my work consists of reading. I find myself sitting down to read for hours on end, which is never fun. I was shocked to have a bio quiz on my second day of class.

10. Taxi drivers in the city are entertaining. Every time I have been in a cab the past two weekends the driver either completely creeps out my friends and I or engages in a funny conversation. From the music the driver plays, to the inappropriate or witty comments, the cab rides always prove to be memorable. Taxi drivers are characters, to say the least.

11. Everyone at SJU already has friends. One of the first things I noticed was that other freshmen were coming into college with tons of friends. I felt like everyone else already knew each other. It was intimidating considering finding a solid group of friends was a concern for me starting college. Soon enough, I realized there were other people here who didn’t really know anyone either, which was a relief.

12. Walking over the McShain bridge can get annoying. Since I am living in McShain I have to walk over the bridge basically anytime I leave my room or come back. It can get pretty redundant. After a few days, I discovered it is a much nicer walk to go down Lapsley Lane and enjoy the scenery and beautiful houses. It a nice change to take the longer way sometimes.