Last week the women took us to their market (they call it the "mall") which is like a large warehouse with various small rooms where the individual shops are. Most of the shops sell almost the exact same things, hijabs and perfumes. Some sold shoes, rugs, and spices but those were the exceptions. Only women worked in these shops. Men worked in shops dealing w/loans, visas, greencards, and passports. There were much fewer of these shops. The mall was so fragrant. It was interesting to see these shops and I could imagine how non-lucrative it would be to rely on the income coming from them. But I guess it's something, many of the women (and most of the older women) don't work at all. We went back again this week and visited some friends in the shops and hung up signs for the class because less women have been showing up, I expected this as the initial excitement wore off and they began to understand how difficult it was going to be to learn English (overwhelming and frustrating). Because women haven't been showing up as consistently, I helped a couple men today and they said they are going to keep coming back. I am hesitant to teach the men since they have had so much more access to education in their lives than the women have, many of the older women were not allowed to attend school in their home-countries of mostly Somalia and Ethiopia and so have never had any education.
March 2010 Archives
Today I did office work at the American Cancer Society. I put together bags, and other supplies that will be used at the next event. While doing this it made me think about how little things like gift bags make people more comfortable. When people are comfortable they are then able to talk about things, such as cancer, which are uncomfortable to talk about. A major thing I have learned already from this experience is that people do not like to talk about cancer. This is a problem because as cancer becomes more prevalent in our society people need to be comfortable talking about it, so that they can learn about preventatives. If more people were willing to do this then cancer might not be as big of an issue in our society.
The health disparities task force is held every few months at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, MN; health professionals attend the group in hopes to eliminate health disparities involving cancer. An idea to expand our focus to other chronic diseases was proposed since there is not another group like the task force involved in eliminating health disparities involving other chronic diseases. I thought it was an excellent idea since the health professionals that attend the meeting are already familiar with other health disparities around other chronic diseases. There is definitely a lack of funding in order to produce the changes that the task force is trying to achieve as well as a lack of hope and energy.
Yesterday when I was volunteering at Hope Lodge, I was cleaning the kitchens. This entails scrubbing all of the surfaces, including the outside of ovens, all of the countertops, sinks, etc. Its not necessarily the most glamorous work, but its needed. I was cleaning, and a resident came up to me and just started talking. We talked while I worked, just about the weather, how nice it was outside, that we were excited for spring, and other things; mainly just light conversation. He was a nice gentleman, and the company was appreciated while I worked. Looking back on that experience today, it made me realize how cancer patients can be isolated from the real world. The Hope Lodge was built so that cancer patients could stay with others going through their same experiences, but I get the feeling that many of the residents miss everyday interactions that they had with people before they got cancer. It makes me realize that even if we're just there to clean and sanitize, they appreciate us being there to talk.
Last week, volunteering at the Temple was particularly new and exciting. I was able to go to a meeting with all of the MD's in the medical examination clinic, and they had a meeting with local MD's from various departments in the NW suburban area. In this meeting, the MD's from the Temple clinic gave a brief presentation as to what we are doing and what the goals are for the clinic. I found this meeting to be especially helpful because I was able to meet and network with other doctors. It was nice to get their insight as to how they went about the field they chose, and what options I have. For example, I told one of the doctor's that I was considering pharmacy, but don't think I want to do it anymore because you don't really get much patient interaction. The doctor told me that this is not at all the case, however. I was surprised to hear that they have pharmacists in the emergency rooms of hospitals, and that is plenty of patient interaction! So, I have again opened the doors to pharmacy and want to check out more options within the field that deals with more patient interaction such as pharmacists working in emergency room settings.
The sage event was held last week. Sage, which serves underinsured or uninsured women, provides Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings. This portion of American Cancer Society is largely funded by the government. With the budgets cuts in process this program was on the list to get reduced or no funding for next year. This is a huge problem because it is detected over 1400 cancers in women. Cuts reduce the amount of mammograms and pap tests Sage is able to give and fewer cancers are caught early. Prevention services and detection services are important because the survival rate for breast cancer is nearly 100% when detected early. Because it is on the table for budget cuts it caused a group of people to come together and hit influential governors and legislators with grass root letters encouraging them to take it off the table. This letter writing is not a type of service I have engaged in, in the past. I always thought of service as directly dealing with the people but in this class realized there are other ways but never participated in those. This was a new way to help people simply by sending in letters to help keep a program that is vital to society. It was a good experience to hear about the health reform bill and how that would affect sage as well.
A little over a week ago I went to the Do It Green! Minnesota team meeting and workshop meeting. It was cool because I am beginning to notice more and more that being a college student gives you a certain "in" to being an adult. I feel like once I graduated from high school, suddenly adults began to talk to me and listen to me like an equal. I like that. And I definitely felt this at the workshop meeting, because even though I and Natalie (the other U of MN volunteer for workshop coordination) were the youngest of the people there, Ami and Eva still treated us like we were just as important and experienced as they were. They asked us for input about the workshops and how we should promote them and took our suggestions. It made me feel like I really am growing up I guess you could say.
For the past few weeks I have been volunteering at the Hope Lodge late in the evenings before locking up time. At that point in time I basically finish up whatever any other volunteers had leftover that day and wait at the front desk for the residents to return before locking up for the night. That point in the night is pretty boring to volunteer during honestly, but it can also be really interesting and revealing because you meet many of the residents as they come back for the night sometimes from a nice dinner and sometimes from a really rough day at the hospital. This past week while I was sitting at the front desk a woman came back from being with her father at the hospital and was obviously upset. She told me about how the doctors had found a spot on her father's lung and so far his future was looking very grim. We talked for awhile about what he has been going through and how hard it was for her to take care of him. I told her about when my mom had breast cancer when I was 12 and I had to become the "mom" of the house and take care of my younger siblings. She told me that even though both situations were awful it was still comforting to know that someone could relate to how she was feeling at that moment. I recommended she get some rest or maybe watch a movie to get her mind off of things so I helped her choose one. I wanted to cry myself seeing how much pain she was going through but I was glad that I could be there to be somewhat of a shoulder for someone even if I barely knew her. I hope more of the people I meet in the future are the ones coming back after a nice day out but getting someone's room key for them doesn't measure up to being someone to confide in.
It has been a couple of weeks since my last blog post on my service-learning experience, so I hope to update everyone [that is interested] on what I have been up to at AFA.
Over spring break, I helped out with my usual tutoring on Friday afternoon, but the experience was different than what I had gotten used to over past sessions. It was a Friday that I spent about two hours just hanging out with the students, and I did not tutor a single person. I think part of this had to do with the fact that Fridays are quite 'chill' in general, so the atmosphere is very laid back and I tend to take things as they come. If a student needs help, I am definitely prepared and ready to assist them, but I never force my help upon anyone.
Nevertheless, I actually enjoyed the two hours of not actually focusing on tutoring and getting to hang out and have fun instead. After students start getting to know you, you really find your comfort zone and learn to just chill out with everyone there.
Since AFA is currently on Spring Break, I will not be back to volunteer until Tuesday, April 6th. Starting then, I will be assisting teachers in the classroom on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and afternoons for three weeks (since BIOL 2301 will not be meeting).
I am really looking forward to a different opportunity to work with the students, and I am also excited about being exposed to a new group of students: the students that are taking college-prep courses.
Over these three weeks, I think I will feel that I am contributing the most to AFA, and I think that a majority of my service portfolio will be focused on the help that I provide in the classrooms to both the teachers and students. This is also a further opportunity to get to know the teachers that I met back in February on a more personal level, and in turn, they will see how I am able to interact with students.
I plan to utilize the communication skills I have gained over the 3.5 years that I have spent working in education and exhibits with Como Zoo to make my work in AFA's classrooms effective and worthwhile.
Until I start this new volunteer work, I probably won't have any updates until after April 7th...
I have volunteered twice since my last blog, and during both sessions I was assigned to cleaning different parts of the Hope Lodge and to making welcome signs for the guests. Before this week, I had never really thought about what it takes to truly help out a cancer patient, for I thought that the Hope Lodge just allowed patients to save money by not staying in a hotel. But the Lodge is much more than that, as the workers go out of their way to constantly keep the entire lodge sanitized for the guests; this small gesture is just one example of the extraordinary level of dedication that the workers have to keeping their guests comfortable and safe. Another small but wonderful gesture is the welcome card that everyone receives in their room upon check-in. These cards all include an inspirational saying and are made from pretty scrapbooking material. As I was making some of these cards today, I started to think of ways to apply what I did over the past week to my academic life. What I came up with is that I need to start paying closer attention to the details of what I do, as this is the part that really makes a facility (or paper in my case) stand out. It is the small details that allow someone to really demonstrate all of the thought and perfecting that has gone into an idea, and through trying to master these details, I would definitely become a better student. Applying this thought to school will hopefully lead me to taking all parts of an assignment seriously, and not just the major components or ideas.
As I sit here on Sunday doing homework, I am confronted with how fragile life seems to be. After volunteering at the Hope Lodge, I have learned so many things about life and how it can change if you're going through cancer. When I volunteer, I feel like I am doing some of the best service I can for people that are struggling through a very hard time in their life. But as much as I give to them, they give to me so much more. I am confounded at how much the guests at the Hope Lodge cherish life. Whether its just stopping by to say thank you, or striking up a conversation, they are genuinely interested in what we're doing. It has made me reevaluate my priorities, and realize that getting a bad grade on a test really isn't that bad compared to what could be. This experience has given me a chance to see how good life really can be, and that I shouldn't waste it or take it for granted, because you never know if something like cancer is going to happen. Above all, interacting with the guests at Hope Lodge has taught me that I should look on the bright side, because so many people there do.
(sorry if this is so depressing or deep, I was just thinking about how selfish I can be sometimes!)
Throughout my five weeks of volunteering at the tower apartments, I am finally feeling a direct connection with the residents that I work with. I've learned through this work the importance of persevering through things that sometimes may feel unnecessary. My older blog posts describe myself feeling a sense of impatience and that working with older citizens is something that I am entirely uninterested in. Through my five weeks of work, I am finally realizing that working with the elderly is something that I might be interested in and that I actually may have more patience then I credit myself with. Talking and listening to the words that the individuals I help makes me feel that I am making a difference in other people's life, something I felt that I could not in the beginning of my service.
I have learned in my work that I am a good listener, as this is proved by the fact that during my service I often engage in lengthy discussions with residents I tutor. Using this skill in the future along with my patience will be important in my path to become a dentist. Overall, my volunteer work has helped me to learn many things.
by: Nick Mueller
This week as I was walking around Fairview Medical Center delivering patients' medications, I was thinking about how I could become better at my volunteer work. Because I have been volunteering in the pharmacy since the beginning of the school year, I think I have fallen into a routine that can seem monotonous at times, which may or may not show to the people I am serving. One way I thought of to improve my service is to simply smile and say "thank you" every time after I delivered medications. Although I had previously done this to some extent, I made a conscious effort to smile at everyone I passed this week. By being friendly the staff and patients' families that I passed in the hall, I got the chance to "serve" people that I would not normally interact with in my volunteer position. Just taking the time to give someone directions or say hello to a random stranger certainly made my day a little brighter and I would like to think that my kindness was passed on to others. This is something I feel I forget to do in everyday life, but it's the easiest way to make a difference. Although the main portion of my service this week was the same old routine, I served a whole new group of people simply by choosing to act more kindly towards others. The idea of finding new aspects of service routinely to balance out monotony can also be applied to my school work and job, so I think it's a good thing that I have seen positive outcomes of this through my volunteerism.
I went on a hope lodge tour and orientation the Friday before spring break ended. I was introduced to Debbie who is the main volunteer contact. As soon as I walked in, I had to sanitize my hands and ensure I was not ill. This was a first glimpse at the severity of the sickness that cancer causes. I was shown around the main floor and basement because the top floors are only for residents. I saw the kitchens, chapel, entertainment, computer, game and exercise room. It was a truly beautiful place. What touched me was not the wow these people have a great place to be at while receiving treatment. When I was in the library room with puzzles, books, and comfortable sitting something hit me, not literally of course. A man was there, who I believe had throat cancer. He had a reddish sore on his neck and kept trying to move his shirt away from his neck as though it was uncomfortable. He started a conversation about a puzzle and stated he was looking for a good book but could not find it. The normal puzzle kept expanding to different types, like the 3-d ones my grandma use to like, about some residents there trying to laminate them and frame them. He was so excited to chat to me, a stranger. I realized that yes it is great they have a super nice place to live but they can only bring one caregiver. They get lonely and really appreciate the people that come to visit. When the volunteers wash things, yes, they like it but they really enjoy when they have time to talk because it gives them a connection to the outside, makes them feel alive and not so sick. The impact of simply talking with someone I never knew could be so important.
I had my first true volunteering day. I was not in training, but instead I was educating people about the different forms of cancer, and what preventative things they should be doing. This event was hosted by the University of Minnesota-Medical School, and it was in downtown St. Paul. Throughout the day people came up to my booth and asked questions and took informational brochures. One thing that I found very interesting is that women were more likely to come up and talk to us and learn about cancer than men. I think this is because as a society we are so open with the idea of breast cancer, that women do not feel embarrassed about talking about it. On the other hand prostate cancer is not as talked about so men are a bit shyer about the issue. To overcome this issue we would give information about prostate cancer to women who were married in hopes they would be able to talk to their husbands about it. Overall I think the event went extremely well, and while I was the teach in this situation, I still think I learned more than expected.
This week I had training, so that I could provide information to people at the medical school's health event in downtown St. Paul. Even though the training provided me with a great deal of information about breast, colon, cervical, and prostate cancer, the most interesting thing that I think I learned was about the tobacco company. The tobacco company has come out with great variety of new products. The really unfortunate thing about these new products is that they resemble mints, candy, and electronics which are all things that younger kids would find cool and want to try, and a lot of these products are not enforced under the law. This really concerned me because tobacco is already a issue in the youth, and kids do not need more temptation to start using tobacco. While I was sitting there I even thought to myself that some of the products were cool, and I would like to try them. I did think they were cool, but since I have background knowledge about how horrible tobacco is, I never would try the product, but a younger person who does not have this knowledge might give into the temptation. After this presentation, myself, and one of the other girls decided to try and find a way to inform the students of the University of Minnesota about what this, and about how they can make a difference by participating in the day at the capital for this issue. We are hoping to have enough time to put something together.
Over Spring Break, I got the opportunity to volunteer in a hospital pharmacy in my hometown, and it got me thinking more about the service I do at Fairview. One question that struck me was "what makes this organization different than others who may serve a similar population?" Previous to my Spring Break experience, I did not have sufficient information to address this question. Now I know that not all hospital pharmacies deliver medications directly to patients being discharged. This is one service that the Fairview pharmacy provides which other hospitals may not. Knowing this makes my volunteer position seem a lot more important and I now know that the discharge medication service could not run as smoothly without the help of volunteers like myself. Reflecting on this, I understand now that my job is something that makes the Fairview healthcare system a great organization that takes more steps to provide better patient care than other hospitals. I am very fortunate to be volunteering with such a great organization and will not forget this when serving in the pharmacy.
As I walked in through the secured doors of the building, I was amazed by how beautifully decorated the place was. There was beautiful art work, fireplaces, and elegant furniture. As we kept moving forward in the tour I realized that the Lodge was a lot more luxurious than any other place I have volunteered at. I started to ask myself whether the people that stay at the Hope Lodge really need all these luxuries. A lot of money has been donated to the Hope Lodge and I guess I wondered if they used the money wisely. I also volunteer at People Serving People and the difference in the buildings, decorations, and commodities is immense.
Last Friday, I volunteered at the Hope Lodge and had a very fun experience, as I actually did something other than sit at the front desk! Because they had had such a busy week with numerous check-ins and outs, I got to go make beds in some of the rooms. I had never been into any of the rooms before, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the rooms are very well kept. I know that if I was a cancer patient and away from home, having a clean room to sleep in would be very comforting to me so I tried to make the beds as carefully as I could.
I was also thinking about what was said in class Tuesday, and so while I volunteered, I tried to relate things that happened to my leadership style. This was somewhat difficult as Friday was not very busy and therefore I didn't really get to interact with anyone from the Lodge except the director. But even though I didn't get to reflect on my leadership, I did end up thinking of how this experience was changing my attitude toward volunteering. For I used to think that volunteering had to be this extremely hands- on thing, but it turns out that there are a lot of places where you need to take a back seat and do the small work that helps an organization run. Because of this, volunteering at the Hope Lodge is improving my patience, for I understand that I would always be on the run and super active while I volunteer and it is important to the success of the Hope Lodge that I answer phones and direct people's calls.
I went to The Sustainability Fair on Saturday and helped man a table for Do It Green! Minnesota there. It was a little harder than I thought it would be. When I go to fairs and look at the booths I usually just try to get the handouts from tables supporting whichever activity or club or volunteer position I find interesting. I don't usually talk that much to the people manning the table. I usually go to fairs to browse the opportunities out there. When the people at the booths start talking to me it is like when I go in a store and one of the retailers start asking instantly if they can help me. "No, I'm just looking." I like to come to my own conclusions and find things out on my own without being too closely observed. It was weird being on the other side of things.
It was kind of nice to finally meet all three of the other workshop coordinators. One of them was a student from the U of MN, sophomore, my year, in Carlson. It was fun to watch her and see her pounce on people and talk to them about everything on the table and other things. She even got business cards from a few people which made me laugh--such a Carlson student thing to do. The other two were very knowledgeable in everything with the environment and Do It Green! I felt kind of useless. I really don't know much more than average information about Do It Green! and the environment. I didn't even know Avator is making a statement about sustainability. (I learned that at the fair.) Also, since I prefer the people manning tables not to talk too much to me at fairs I assume that other people walking around the fairs would prefer me not to talk to them as well. And some do. Others would look at me expectantly when they would come to the tables if the other three were already engaged. And I would open my mouth and not really want to say anything.
It is weird because growing up, I thought I was pretty outgoing. I used to sell pop outside my house during the state fair when I was little and I had no problem asking anyone who walked by if they wanted to buy pop. In grade school I used to do just about anything I was dared during truth or dare. I sang solos in choir and shouted out answers in class. I was never called shy. But now I have been called shy countless times by people and I have found myself in situations like manning a table at The Sustainability Fair where I know I should have been more outgoing, more talkative and I just haven't. Or I haven't wanted to--like I had to force myself to speak. It's weird.
Yesterday I went back to Hope Lodge for the second time since I missed last week after a nasty cold. I worked the front desk for the first time and, as anyone who volunteers there knows, it's pretty quiet work in the evening. At first I thought I would be staring at the wall the entire 2 hours I was there but it turned out to be more of a learning experience for me. When I was talking to the staff person working there one of the residents overheard that I was from Chicago and he ended up being from Chicago originally. We had a long chat about how he was a police officer on the south-side before he came up to Minnesota with his wife. Another woman there talked to me all about her cataract surgery and had me pick out a good movie for her to watch from Hope's collection. Not that this was a very eventful night but I realized after talking to these people that I was doing "service" by talking to them and making them feel comfortable. It went back to one of our classes when we had 15 minutes to do service and realized that sometimes just having a conversation with someone and brightening their day especially if they are a cancer patient can have a larger effect than cleaning the lodge's kitchens. They also had that effect on me. I felt more comfortable and at home when the residents came to talk to me and it brightened my day instead of me doing them that service. Overall it was nice to realize that, even though my first impression was "I'm not doing anything sitting here", I was actually doing their community a service just by making myself a part of it.
Since my last experience at AFA had nothing to do with tutoring, I thought I would touch on my feelings regarding the experience that I did have.
As mentioned in my last blog entry, I agreed to volunteer for a school dance that was held at AFA last Friday night. Walking into the school, I was somewhat excited because it brought back memories of the 'interesting' times that I had at high school dances in years past.
Anyway, when I arrived, a couple of the staff members were setting up the final touches of the 'dance floor', and a few of the students who were acting as hosts for the event were just hanging out.
For me, I just hung around meeting a few students that I had not seen before, and they were all quite nice and very laid back. Not knowing what to expect that night, I was getting pretty good vibes from these students and felt like the night would be both fun and interesting.
It was a bit of a slow event, but towards the end quite a few students were showing up. It was neat to watch how they interacted with one another without the thought of school hanging over their heads. Overall, it was a pretty good night, and I enjoyed doing something different with the students for a change.
Today, I volunteered at the medical examination clinic at the temple. Now that I have a better idea of what my job should be, I was able to better interact with the families that came in for the examinations. It was nice to see how much they appreciated my help, and how useful I was actually being. For example, I had to sit with a child when his parent was getting examined and although I did not think it was a big deal, the mother told me how much it meant to her. With my help, she did not have to worry about her child. For the second half of my time, I worked at the front desk and mostly learned how to answer phone calls and help set up examination appointments. Once I learn the basics, I will be able to learn various organizational skills as well.
This was my third week of volunteering at the Temple's medical examination clinic. I now know my way around, what my job exactly consists of, and am starting to build relationships with the doctors as well as some patients that come in on a more regular basis. I realized, this week, that I should look into my volunteering experience more than just doing work for others. So, on Sunday, I went to the staff meeting at the Temple where they discuss all of the Temple's activities (including the clinic). I was able to hear insight from the doctors, and the Temple officers. I think they appreciated my effort in getting to know why we are doing what we're doing and where we will go with this. I was then able to share my goal of going on a medical mission trip to India next summer and hope to take away skills that I have learned volunteering here and apply them to my visit to India. They really liked this idea, and it happens that one of the doctors, Dr. Santhi, actually goes on medical mission trips every so often as well and asked if I would be willing to consider going on a trip with her in the future. I thought this would be a great idea, and I am so excited to see the opportunities my volunteering experience is already providing for me.
Last week while volunteering at the Temple, it was an exciting time because the Temple was celebrating a large festival called Holy. There were about 2,000 people that visited the temple that day, so Instead of having the medical clinic we put a booth out to inform people about what we have to offer at the clinics. It was exciting because it was different from what I normally do, and now I was able to represent part of what the medical clinics have to offer. I helped create brochures for the clinics, and gave temple goers information about clinic hours and how to set up appointments. It was nice to be able to give back to the community in a different way, not just helping in the clinic but helping with behind the scenes aspects of the clinic. This way, I was able to grasp a lot more of what the clinic actually entails since I had to pass on the information to others. It helps me to understand why I am doing what I'm doing, and now I know the logistics behind the clinic as well!
If you're looking for ideas of what to write about in your blog posts (besides a description of what you did during your volunteer experience), here are some reflection questions:
• What has been the best part of the service-learning experience? Why?
• What has been the hardest part of the experience? Why?
• What have you learned that you didn't know at the beginning of this experience?
• If you could make changes in the lives of the people benefiting from the organization where you volunteer, what would they be and why?
• What are some concerns you have about what you've experienced while volunteering?
• How is this experience connected to your life (currently or in the future)?
• What have you learned from the people you're working with? What have they
learned from you?
• What have you learned about yourself and your community through volunteering?
• What is one thing you intend to do differently as a result of what you learned
during this experience?
• Are there ways that you could stay involved in this organization or type of social issue in the future?
I finally had some other volunteer besides me show up yesterday. That was exciting. It will be great for the women since they all demand such personalized attention. Yet, I also feared this day because I have taken such a liking to the way I have been doing things I don't want to have to reconfigure them now that I am working with someone else. Also because I have doing to program alone for about a month already, I feel like leading the other incoming volunteers, but that is not technically my position... Anyway, we'll work it out, I think if I just keep in strong contact with the incoming volunteers we will all be on the same page and really make this program into something special that will impact these womens' lives for the better. The other volunteer was just as excited as me about the program, which is great, and just as discouraged by the disorganization of the program by the FOLC. I think we will really be able to work together to create a system that will greatly benefit the women and may be adopted by volunteers in the future after we are done volunteering.
Yesterday, I volunteered at the Temple for a few hours. There were actually no families that came into the clinic, however there was still plenty of work to be done at the clinic. For example, rooms needed rearranging so I assisted in that task. Also, I received magazines to be put in the rooms for patients to read while they are waiting. I then sanitized all of the work benches and organized materials as needed. It was nice to have a relaxed day, for I was able to interact with the doctors and hear about their profession to keep my interests open. One doctor was telling me about her experience on a medical mission trip to Zimbabwe, which sounded like a wonderful experience. I am looking forward to developing closer relationships with the doctors and visiting with patients next week.
My first day at the Hope Lodge was pretty uneventful but nevertheless anything I did seemed very appreciated and I felt very welcomed. I met with the assistant manager and she showed me what my responsibilities would be while I volunteered. Since there were already 2 people working the front desk I only briefly learned what I would be doing there. For the remainder of my time volunteering I mostly cleaned the kitchens since they had just had their potluck dinner. I also met a few of the residents who seemed very nice and appreciative. One woman was watching American Idol and we chatted for awhile about what we thought of the contestants and who should be voted off the show. Another man followed me while I cleaned and sanitized the kitchens and told me all about the potluck dinner they had just had and kept urging me to try some of the leftover chocolate from the chocolate fountain. I was really disappointed this week when I caught a bad cold and was unable to volunteer since no one should be around cancer patients with any sickness. Overall I felt very comfortable and welcomed and I am excited to go back.
My third week of tutoring at Augsburg Fairview Academy was a very different experience from my first two weeks of tutoring. On this particular Friday, AFA had a day of regular classes rather than its usual day of only offering workshops and the tutoring service due to not having class on Monday because of the President's Day holiday. So, since I wasn't able to go through the regular schedule of just tutoring, I was able to sit in on a Stats class and a Physical Science class. The material being covered in the classes seemed to be at the right level for students in the 9th grade, which these students were.
One difference between the two classes that I saw (I can make the comparison because the two classes featured the same group of students) was the level of attention for the given classes. More attention was paid during the Science class than the Math class by about half of the class (the rest paid attention in both classes) for an unseen reason. There was not much of a difference between the teaching styles or discipline levels of the teachers, so the only real difference I could see was the setup of the classroom, with the desks being organized in rows in the Science room and the Math room featuring a more circular style of arrangement. I am not trying to take blame away from teachers or students, because there is likely something going on with the students and teachers that causes this difference, but there was not any overt reason for me, at least. Perhaps these particular students are not as interested in Math, or maybe they have more respect for the Science teacher. Whatever the reason, something could be done to interest the kids further in their Math class, which begs to question, what is my role in promoting a change such as this in the school?
I just got back from volunteering at Hope Lodge, and already I'm looking forward to going back again. When I got there this morning, I couldn't figure out how to get in, like usual. They have a secure door, so the person at the front desk has to buzz you in. However, every time they've tried to buzz me in, I haven't been able to get in! That was definitely the first challenge, but it got easier from there. I met Marilee, who is one of the weekend staff, and she introduced me to volunteering at the front desk. These duties include letting people into the building, sorting mail, answering phone calls, and taking and handing out room keys when the guests come and go. After that, I manned the front desk, and met a woman who was there for a group meeting. At first it was hard to communicate because she was deaf and could only lip read, but after I slowed down I was able to escort her to the right room. When Lisa, another volunteer, came, we made beds for new guests coming to stay, and did some laundry as well. Overall, my first day was very exciting and the Hope Lodge felt very welcoming.
During my fourth week volunteering at the Ebenezer Apartments, I have begun to notice that I am beginning to fall into a volunteering routine. At first, I was skeptical about what the position all involved, but through the service, I am learning that I am an adaptive person and can work in many situations. Also through this experience, I am learning that a career with elderly people is not something that I have the patience for. Overall, I am learning that I am making an impact on the lives of the people that I work with. For example, there is a lady who I teach simple computing skills to each week, and her progress from day one is quite significant. At first, she was unable to even double click the mouse to open a program, and now she can run simple searches online. It is so cool to see someone who actually is learning, and it helps me because I know that my service is making a difference.
Through this volunteer experience, which at times seems repetitive, I am making a positive impact on the lives of real citizens. It helps to reassure my belief that even though I am only one person, I can still create positive change.
by: Nick Mueller
Today I went to volunteer at the Hope Lodge for my 3rd week of service. It was a particularly uneventful day, with not a lot to report as I once again worked the front desk and only got two calls all day. But there were a couple of things that made me laugh throughout the day; one being a visitor the Lodge had from the student group Colleges against Cancer. This girl was coming to put up flyers to spread awareness about Relay for Life, but she also brought with her a modified game of monopoly called relayopoly, which has pieces and board squares centered around the Relay. This was extremely fascinating to me, as I have attended Relay for Life before and I didn't know it was such a big deal across the country. Today, I also got to talk to a man who had outlived his life expectancy by two years! He was extremely optimistic and a great guy to chat with.
Over the months that I have been volunteering at Fairview, I have not experienced many major challenges. Sometimes I will be delivering medications to nurses that have had a particularly tough day and can be impatient with me, which can be very frustrating at times. Other times, I will be waiting for a nurse to come to the door of the unit I am at so the medications can be signed off and delivered to the patients. This, at times, is a test of my patience. Today as I was volunteering, neither problem arose, but taking this opportunity to reflect on how to handle these situations in the future will provide me with insight into these problems when they do arise. I think the best way for me to deal with impatience is to try to see the problem from the nurse's point of view. I must always keep in mind that they are not getting impatient with me, which will prevent me from taking an issue too personally. The most valuable thing I do when these problems arise is stay calm and collected and still act in a very professional manner, regardless of how frustrated I am. After all, I am doing service for the benefit of others first, and although the benefits I get from my service-learning are an important by-product, they are not the reason I continue to volunteer every week.
One thing that I really enjoy about my service learning is that not only am I volunteering extra time for the Health Disparities Department, but since I am very involved with Colleges Against Cancer, I am able to branch out and speak with other people in different cancer advocacy issue areas. Last week I met with Nhia Lee, the American Cancer Society's Government Relations Person for the Midwest Division. She shared with me a ton of interesting information regarding smokeless tobacco products that aren't regulated by the FDA and various taxation laws. As Director of Mission Delivery, it is my job to be aware of the various legislation going on regarding cancer issues, which is why I often meet with Nhia to catch up to speed on these issues.
We also talked about different cancer legislation that has already been successful because I wanted advice for how to present this information to the general public at the U of M's Relay For Life. Being able to provide people with the facts about cancer, their risks of getting this disease, and preventative measures they can take is important to me and the mission of the American Cancer Society.
Lastly, I talked with Nhia about potential MN legislators having a presence as speakers or special guests at the Relay For Life this year. It's great to be able to talk with her about the different MN law makers because she has first hand experience talking and discussing issues with them, and I feel privileged to be offered opportunities to meet them as well and ask them to make decisions in the interest of their constituents.
As for this week, I will be working a table at the Student National Medical Association Health Fair, so I look forward to that!
So I have posted events up online on the calendar, but other than that, I have not really done anything for Do It Green! Minnesota. It is making me frustrated because I want to do something, but there is not anything for me to do right now! Ami said that she would email me and Natalie (the other workshop assistant) when we are supposed to meet to talk about the workshops and what we are supposed to do for them. This also means where we will flyer and the online sources we will use to get the word out about our workshops that Do It Green! Minnesota is putting on. However, she has not emailed me anything but events to post. I have been debating on whether I should email her and ask her if there is anything I should be doing, but I have not so far because I have been waiting for her to email me and I figure that if there was anything for me to do she would tell me...
For my second week of volunteering at AFA, I remember that I did not do as much tutoring. A reason that was given to me for the lack of students showing up who wanted to work on anything was that it was a Holiday weekend, with President's Day on the following Monday, and that maybe the kid's didn't know that the school would be open for tutoring or anything else. Whatever the reason, only a few students came in, and none of them were that interested in getting any school work done. Basically, my time consisted of socializing with my supervisors and getting a little of my own homework done. Although this day could be considered a wash of sorts, my time there was appreciated by the staff and I got a little more acclimated with the school grounds and some of the curriculum as teachers dropped by to see how I was doing and struck up conversation regarding what they are teaching their students.
By my estimation up to this point, a number of the students who come in on Friday's, when I volunteer, are there to socialize with one another or to use the school's computers to surf the web for non-academic purposes. Some of the students who are socializing or surfing the web are there to go to a workshop later in the day since there is no regular class on Friday's, but there are those who are only there to socialize and surf the web. It's a good thing in the sense that they have this safe environment in which to socialize and the like, but since I am there to help, I would appreciate it if the students would work on something so I can help them. I have asked these students if there was anything that they wanted to work on or that they needed help with, but those efforts are usually for not. Not that I won't stop trying, but I would love if these students came to me for help or if they were to just work on something without my help.
I went to my first Monday class yesterday and have another class tomorrow. The women are starting to feel frustrated, the initial excitement is wearing off and they are realizing what kind of challenge they are facing trying to learn another language at their age. Also, I do not think most of the women have been exposed to a traditional classroom setting because they do not like to/cannot focus when I am trying to teach the whole group at once. They only seem to like personal attention, but then it wastes our short time together and they get jealous thinking I am favoring certain women. Also, it is very difficult to teach the group because the women are all at such different levels (from semi-fluent to not being able to read). I used to tutor children with reading difficulties read and have been trying to apply tactics from that experience. I found late in that experience that it was much more important and had much more successful if I concentrated more on having fun and excitement with the material than actually working solidly hard. But, at the childrens' age it is much more important to instill a love of learning in them than anything else, and these women are already middle-aged and above. Anyway, I have been speaking to people about it and trying to gets ideas. There is supposed to be more teachers (than just me) next week and hopefully that will help, we will be able to pay more individual attention to the women.
I went to a three hour training on the types of cancer yesterday. I think this was very beneficial not only to myself but than i feel more knowledgeable about being able to answer questions of those at upcoming fairs etc. It was really opening to hear about the misconceptions and cultural differences of problems in cancer prevention, detection and treatment. I actually felt like i didn't have many false knowledge until they asked questions and my answer was the typical false answer. I was thinking if i feel like i am educated what do people that have no education think about issues related to cancer. I am in the midst of finding a time to set up an appointment with the person at the hope lodge. The people however were really awesome, but i am really excited to start working with people dealing with cancer and get their views and outlook on things.
As I continue to volunteer my time at Augsburg Fairview Academy, I am becoming more accustomed to both the staff and students. So far, I have only been to AFA three times for tutoring, and each time has been a different experience.
The second week that I was there, I remember that I showed up ready to help a student out with her resume. To my surprise, that was a day when I ended up not tutoring any students at all, and the student that I was originally planning to help was nowhere to be found. Nevertheless, I stayed at AFA until they closed, and managed to have a good time connecting with some of the staff and students that were hanging around.
This past Friday, I arrived at AFA and found quite a few students to be hanging out, so I figured that maybe I would have more students to tutor. In the end, almost all of the students that I did see went home or left the school without doing any work. I just figured that they may not have needed any help, or they were just hanging out at the school as a way to have fun.
I think what is great about AFA is the fact that the school is very welcoming to their students. Since AFA is only open on Fridays for workshops and tutoring, many of the students that do show up on Fridays are there to connect with one another and enjoy some free time at a safe place.
Anyway, I did manage to do some tutoring with one student after some encouragement by one of the staff members. For me, I usually make my presence known within the tutoring, and try to talk with the students to let them know that I am there if they need me. The students are all pretty polite, but they usually don't pursue any of their homework until after a staff member encourages them to do some work.
The student that I did tutoring (specifically in physical science) was somewhat disengaged from her work and kept expressing the fact that she "doesn't care about school." For me, while I obviously want to see these students excel and be motivated to continue their schooling, I told her that I was there to help her, not to force her.
We managed to get some of her work done, but after a while, it seemed like I was doing more of her homework than she was.
This coming Friday, tutoring at AFA will only last until 1 pm, and since I typically tutor between 1-4 pm, I won't be doing my usual volunteering duties. Instead, I will be helping out with their school dance, and I think that this will be a different experience for me in the sense that I will probably get to see a completely different side to these students. Since I took this dance activity on voluntarily, I am hoping to further increase some of my relationships with the students. We'll see what happens.