Jess Ayala, one of our Program Assistants, has written these words as a means of reflecting on her experiences at the Post-Grad Service Fair. Hopefully they provide you with some food for thought. Happy almost-Friday!
I went to the Post-Grad Service Fair at the end of last month for the purpose of just working our table and helping other organizations with whatever they needed. But I was allowed to walk around for a bit for some time and I came across one table that caught my eye right away: FrancisCorps.
This organization takes post-grads to either Syracuse, NY or Costa Rica and that my friends, sounds like an event-filled time of needed exposure. Both of these places carry many needs, especially the people. It was crazy becoming so interested in this organization that invests so much to all age groups and it was even crazier becoming convinced as a sophomore. It felt awesome and it felt right. I was becoming even more convinced because Costa Rica is my dream trip.
Back in high school, I went on a two-week service trip to Costa Rica I can easily say that those were the two best and most eye-opening weeks of my life. Being there provided me with the sense of nakedness, vulnerability, and uncomfortable feelings that I needed in order to notice that the world is not what it seems. One part of town is beautiful and extremely industrialized while the other is the poorest I have ever come across.
The fact that this organization would take me back to a place that further paved my passion for service is bittersweet on its own. I can honestly say that the Post-Grad Service Fair, in my eyes, was effective in getting through to me and motivating me to spend a year post-graduation in service. All organizations were empowering and very reflective of what this world needs: people and institutions that stand up for a cause.
As scary and risky as this sounds, it is the only thing that can spark change in this troubled world.
Program Assistant, Brittany White, shares her thoughts on what it means to strive for “service leadership”
In a few weeks, the Center for Community Service and the Service Learning Program will be sending representatives to the Midwest Service Leaders Conference. And, as one of the representatives attending this conference, I can’t help but think about what it really means to be a service leader.
Incorporating leadership into the service we do and service into our leadership positions is not an easy thing for us to accomplish. But, that shouldn’t prevent us from diving more and more deeply into this conversation. In fact, it should encourage us to seek out opportunities to practice this conflation every chance we can.
Still, how are we to know what service leadership really means? Is it about listening to others and being in relationship with them? Is it about advocating for social change? Is it some combination of both? How do we become service leaders if service leadership is not always the most popular or the most prominent form of leadership in our society today?
These questions will be the focus on my continued preparations for the Midwest Service Leaders Conference and I hope that I will return with great insight. But, if there is anything I’ve learned through service here at Marquette, it is that both service and leadership are always accomplished through collaboration. It’s never just about the insight that I can bring back, but about the insights that we as a community can discover together.
So, with that, I challenge all of you to consider what it means to be a service leader in your own lives. No, I don’t just mean in the stereotypical forms of community service and leadership, but in everything that you choose to do.
They say that service begins and ends with a smile.
Check out these smiling volunteers from The Campus Kitchen at Marquette! They sure seem to know what service is all about!
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Every semester, the Center for Community Service staff ventures out to numerous organizations here in Milwaukee as part of our search for new volunteer opportunities for the students with whom we work. By visiting the organizations and getting to know even just a little more about the work that they do, we can better build our Milwaukee community. Last week, Program Assistant Brittany White visited Running Rebels Community Organization to explore all of its work. Check out the insights she discovered:
As a returning Center for Community Service Staff member, I thought I knew what to expect from my site visits this semester. I figured I would pick a few organizations, meet the volunteer coordinator, get a list of volunteer opportunities and then be on my way back to the office to write a little description of these volunteer needs. But, when I went to Running Rebels Community Organization, I was completely surprised by what I experienced and what I learned.
While I knew that Running Rebels was founded on providing a safe, violence-free, after-school space for Milwaukee youths, I did not have any idea how important the idea of community is to the daily work of that organization. In my conversation with Shane, the Volunteer Coordinator, I kept hearing over and over this emphasis on developing relationships and on building community – phrases that really connect with the understanding of service that seems to be so important here at Marquette. He described Running Rebels as more than a safe-haven for kids who need to avoid the trouble on the streets – he described it as what can become a home away from home for these kids and a place where volunteers are more neighbors and companions, than tutors.
This concept really struck me as I walked down the stairs back to my car after that site visit. I had seen the numerous resources that Running Rebels makes available to its students; more importantly, though, I’d been able to see the culture and philosophy that seems to make Running Rebels what it is.
Needless to say, I came back here to campus and couldn’t wait to share with everyone what a unique organization it is. If you are looking for tutoring opportunities that will challenge you to build relationships, community, and become a mentor for the students with which you work, Running Rebels might be the place for you.
If you would like more information about volunteering at Running Rebels, contact the Center for Community Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
From Walnut Way’s Harvest Day. (Photos by Molly Rippinger)
If you need some reading on this Monday morning, check out this story of immersion from Program Assistant, Jeydelyn Martinez. Her story is a reflection on her experiences in Mexico and the lessons she learned from them.
It’s been nearly 3 years and counting since I last stepped on the beautiful soil of Jalisco, Mexico. But I remember it like it was yesterday…
It was only four-o’clock in the morning and already I had to get up, groggy from a sleepless night. But, I couldn’t help it, I had been too anxious. My mind kept pondering back to the thought of what México was going to be like. Excitement, and at the same time worry, consumed me, as the constant reports of the gruesome violence in some of its states seemed to always float back to my mind. I started to seriously doubt if spending a whole twenty-four hours between the airport and traveling in a car to our destination was worth it. But, I experienced things few get the chance to see or appreciate. I saw the beauty of Mexico, the poverty in which people lived, and still, they came to me with open arms. This made me treasure the little things I have like running water, and made me realize that material things can’t make a person happy.
I had been prepared months in advanced for the conditions we would be living in. There was absolutely no sugarcoating it. My stepfather explained to me that we wouldn’t have running water. We would take baths with the buckets of water, which we would have to fetch from the well outside of his mother’s home. He also told me that there would be flies, and all type of insects everywhere at all times, it was inevitable. He warned me about bringing any expensive shoes or clothing, as the probability that they would be destroyed either by the rocky roads, the dirt, or the rain was likely. Even though he explained this to me in vivid detail, a part of me didn’t want to believe him. He was one to exaggerate so I pushed away his advisory warning and counted down the days until I would reach the ranch, called La Mazata. In my first week there, I experienced my first real culture shock.
When we drove up to house, it wasn’t at all what I expected. It was as big as a large high school classroom, with two separate bedrooms that had no doors. The kitchen was very long and narrow on dusty, cracked concrete floors. To my surprise and shock there was a toilet in the bathroom, but to my discontent it did not flush unless you manually did it. Generously enough, we got to share a bedroom with my parents. They slept on one bed, while my sister and I slept on the other. Through this we managed to keep the little privacy that was given. After all, more then fifteen plus family members came to stay in the tiny home interchangeably. Some slept on the floors on a mattress, or in their cars, so I was grateful with what I got. And still with so little, I got so much. I made friends; I completely engrossed myself into the culture by trying new foods and learning classic Mexican style dances. I learned to live without a washer or dryer, my iPod, my cellular phone, or TV. But, I didn’t need any of it because the nature in which we were surrounded and the kindness and warmth of the people I met were more than enough.
I can honestly say that I woke up with a smile and went to sleep still content. I laughed more than I ever did for two weeks straight and I lived stress-free for the first time since I started high school. Everyday was a new adventure, and I had this grand appetite to live, that I had thought I lost. I will never be able to forget the hospitality or the love that was shown to me. Two weeks at first seemed like an eternity but at the end it wasn’t enough. As I embraced my stepfather’s family members I couldn’t help but cry, because I felt as if I were leaving my own family behind. As we started our journey towards the airport, I looked at the green, grandiose mountains that surrounded the ranch and bid my farewell, promising I would return. Even as I sit here, with commodities such as the computer in which I type on or the iPod with which I listen to music on or the toilet that I can flush, I can’t help but feel a part of me is missing. I miss living simply because, honestly, I can say I was happy. I know in my heart that I can live without many things and that living a different life isn’t scary at all. Its life changing, but in a good way. In a great way.
And so as I continue to further educate myself about what social justice is, what it means to live a dignified life, I can’t help but remember the wonderful people I met in Mexico. Where are they now? Living simply does not usually mean that the people we encounter are living a dignified life. So, where as a society do we go to assure people are living dignified, just lives, and in positive communities? It is not a question that can be so easily answered, nor something we can find immediate solutions to. But, at least lets not ignore the reality, but start exploring it, even if we don’t know where to start. I stared exploring this reality of living a dignified, just life three years ago, not even knowing that a small town in Mexico would have the ability to finally open my eyes.
Do you want to be in solidarity with your world and carry out service after you graduate?
If you are even a slight bit interested, please visit the Post-Grad Service Fair, which will take place on Sept. 23 from 3-7 p.m. in the AMU 2nd Floor Lobby.
Come and mingle with the various service organizations that seek young, driven, and graduated students to help target issues in our current world. We hope to see y’all there!