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Service Learning

Helping-Hands.jpg
(http://middle.capemayschools.com/mths/mediacenter/HelpingHandsClub/HelpingHandsClub.htm)

Upon discovering that I would have to do another service learning requirement for this class, I had little reason to be excited. First of all, I could not figure out what on earth volunteering had to do with architecture. I mean, what does helping a kid out with homework have to do with design? This misconception, along with a less than stellar volunteer experience in a previous class made me a little weary of beginning a new volunteer position. However, my view was greatly changed over the course of the semester and my experience.

From the beginning, Augsburg was very welcoming and professional, which helped a lot to remove some of the doubt I had. After making contact with Heidi Anderson at Augsburg, I was able to set up a time that worked perfectly with my schedule, and was introduced to the teacher whose class I would be working with, and given a tour of the school as well. Everybody, from the teachers to the students, treated me with respect and I felt that it was actually appreciated that I was there. Mr. Johnson was extremely easy to work with, and helped me to better understand the student’s issues.

I am very glad to have had the experience of working with such a diverse group of students. Working in an environment such as the one at Augsburg really showed me how our different cultural backgrounds inform our point of view of the world and how it works. I think this was the real point of requiring service experience, so we would have a chance to step out of our own “box? and actually look critically at the world around us. I saw some students who were dealing with issues that I had never been forced to even think about, and it really opened my eyes. I often thought about how much different my learning experience would be if I were forced to do it in a non-native language. Issues such as this definitely change the way someone interprets their environment.

This course stresses the necessity for designers to be able to recognize a problem, then critically analyze it, determining its consequences and importance, and then finally determining how to best address the problem. I feel as if my experience tutoring at Augsburg helped me to be a better designer and following those exact steps. In order to help someone, I first had to figure out what the problem was, and what obstacles were in the way of solving the problem. I then had to determine the best way to help the student overcome the problem, and help them through the process.

Although the semester is over and my requirement is fulfilled, I hope to continue my work at Augsburg Fairview in the fall. The first reason is because I truly enjoyed my experience, and I want to continue to work with the students and teacher. But another reason is that I think it will help me in design. Volunteering has forced me to examine the environment around me much closer, rather than merely accepting it as a constant. I know now that I can have an effect on people and things and can work to change them for the better. I learned that it is the duty of the designer to better the world around him, and this can be done in many more ways than just designing structures. I hope that I can make a difference in my world, even if it is just helping out on some science homework once a week.