Service-Learning Midterm Reflection


This assignment is designed to help you critically reflect on the work you've been doing with your service-learning sites. In the comments section, please respond to the questions below. In addition, post one comment in response to another service-learning student's answers--that is, respond to their answers, perhaps noting if you had similar experiences, questions you have, etc. Your reflection is due by Tuesday, March 29. Your response to the other student is due by Friday, April 1.

A few sentences for each questions is plenty!

1. What kind of work have you been doing as a volunteer at your site? Describe a typical day.

2. How does that work benefit the organization? How does this work benefit yourself?

3. In what ways have you seen the connections between public speaking and your service project? This might include ways you've used your voice at the cite, how preparing your speech for class helped you better appreciate your organization, or how the organization relies on public speaking to further their cause (or anything else you might observe).

4. What has been the best thing about service-learning so far? The worst? The biggest obstacle? How do you plan to overcome that obstacle during the last part of the semester?


This is Carah!

1. I have been working as an adult tutor at the Franklin Learning Center. On a typical day, I go to the center for about two hours, and am paired with a student. I have been working with the same few students lately, but if they are not present, I find a student that needs help. I go through their worksheets with them and help them understand the lessons in question.

2. This work benifits the organization by providing skilled and individualized learning attention to the students at the center. It benifits me by giving me experience teaching people, which is a possible career path. In addition, it is a great way for me to get involved with the community.

3. This organization has really shown me how much speech is necessary in everyday conversation. A lot of the students are still learning conversational English, and it is really difficult for them to convey their ideas. For me, it has been a really fun experience finding ways to explain abstract concepts and idioms like 'understand' and 'hit the lights'. It shows me how much of life is centered around communication.

4. I have really enjoyed working with and learning about the students at the center. They are so motivated and lead such interesting lives, and it is really inspiring to me. The biggest struggle has probably been adjusting to the varied learning styles of each learner. Everybody brings their own set of ideas to the center, and I am working to adjust to their style of learning faster in order to benifit them.

This is Sara W!

1. I work at at ACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students) as a mentor for students. A typical day starts at 3:45, helping students with homework, usually involving math. After, we go for a quick snack time and then to the computer labs for "E-mentoring". Students are assigned an adult mentor that they email back in forth with. I have to check the student's grammar and puncuation before they can send it. Finally, we go to the gym for around 30 minutes, and I play sports with the kids until the end of the day, at 5:45.

2. This work benefits the organization as they need volunteers in order to sucessfully help the students learn. The more volunteers they have, allows for more one on one assistance. It has benefited me, as it has helped me understand how to communciate topics to a younger group of individuals and has opened my eyes to the issue of the "Fourth Grade Slump".

3. My intro speech about the "Fourth Grade Slump" really helped me to understand the organization better as well as understand why this topic is important to them. Additionally, I have had to speak up when students are out of line and communicate to different learning styles, which further connects the use of public speaking to my service project.

4. The best thing about service-learning so far has been being able to make connections with students and learn more about their experiences. I have already seen a large improvement in many of their study habits, which motivates me to continue to volunteer. One of the hardest things is when there are students that get discouraged quickly and give up. I plan to conquer this by continuing to build relationships with the students, and by always encouraging them to stay motivated, while offering my assitance.

Response to Carah from Sara W:

Reading your reflection makes me want to donate some of my time to the Franklin Learning Center! It seems like a great opportunity to get to teach others, specifically if you have an interest in teaching. I had not really thought of using volunteering opportunities to help guide your career path, however this presents itself as a great option for those wanting more experience in a particular field. Reading your comments about explaining abstract comments was interesting, as it really does show how much life is centered around communicating, just like you stated. Can students attend the center for as many hours as they like per week, for as long as they want? It appears so, as the dedication that you speak to, really seems to show that everyone here is very motivated, wanting to put in a lot of time. A majority of students at ACES are very dedicated, however some don't put in as much effort as they potentially need, which can be frustrating at times.

To Sara from Carah:

This is in two parts--first, the response to your questions! Yes, students can come in as much or as little as they want, and attend as long as they want until they have graduated past the point of the program. Many students start at a 3-5th grade reading level and come in for over 15 hours a week, working for several years until they have reached a pre-college level. Some of them even continue with the program as tutors! Their motivation is really inspiring; it's a really fun program to get involved with. Later next month, there's a spring get-together that the students present some of their work at. If you're interested in coming, you're welcome to!

Second, in response to your post about ACES:

ACES sounds like a really fun program to work with! I tutored middle-school children through high school, and I can definately empathize with the struggles in keeping the students motivated. That was always a struggle with me as well. The program sounds interesting, and I like how they are able to combine a homework-help session with mentoring, as well as some activity as well. Do you like working with the age-group (6th graders?) that you work with? Do you find them more or less motivated than the younger students? Overall, it sounds like you are having a good experience!

Sierra Club Reflection- Mikhail Mack

1. For my internship, I typically volunteer twice a week (Mondays and Wednesday) and spent about two hours working each time. On a typical day, I spend about 10 minutes discussing what the plan for the day is, followed by usually conducting tabling or phone banking. Tabling usually involves asking people to sign a petition or letter for a particular environmental cause. Phone banking, on the other hand, consists of calling a list of Sierra Club supporters and either asking them for support on a particular issue or to volunteer.

2. The work that I do directly benefits the Sierra Club, because I am able to increase their supporters and to rally current supporters. Moreover, tabling plays a huge role in creating the organization's grass-roots campaigns. As for myself, volunteering makes feel like I am making a difference in the community , teaches me more about current environmentally related issues, and increases my self-confidence.

3. Public speaking is invaluable to the Sierra Club, in a way, the organization acts much like a union or lobby group trying to have their message heard. I too, must try to have my voice heard as I call people and asked people on the street to support our message. Much of what I do, along with the organization's actions, involves persuasive speaking and presenting in public, usually with very little time (you can't give a five minute speech to a passerby when you try to get them to sign your petition). Finally, the Sierra Club has given me great resources when I am researching my speeches for class; they offer crucial data on their website, which has helped when formulating my arguments.

4. The greatest thing about this internship has been meeting students and professionals that care about the issues that matter most to me. Similarly, I enjoy the conversations and discussions I have about environmental issues with my superiors. As a duty, phone banking is one of the hardest and least enjoyable duties that I preform. Although it involves speaking and persuasion, in reality, two hours of calling a hundred or so names results in five or ten conversations. The biggest obstacle I have found is convincing people to actually volunteer. Most the people I talk to, support the organizations cause, but are not willing to donate some of their time to the organization. This obstacle is quite difficult to overcome, mostly because it requires overcoming human nature. In reality, all I can do is learn to accept this reality and to not let it discourage me.

MN-SNAP - Ashley Napoles

1.) I am a clinical volunteer for MN-SNAP, I go to volunteer once a week on Wednesday mornings from 8:30 - 12:00 (depending on the location since they are traveling clinic). I usually start the day by helping unload the surgical van and setting up the supplies I need. My duties include cleaning and sterilizing the medical instruments used in the spay and neuters. I also fold laundry, fill out some post-operative medicine and make calls to pet owners to inform them of the status of their animal.

2.) This work benefits the organization, because the vet technicians do not have to take valuable time to do the dirty jobs that I am doing from spay and neutering the animals. They would be unable to complete as many animals in a day if having to stop in between each surgery. Or they would be spending more money on hiring extra vet techs rather than on surgical supplies. It benefits myself because I know I am doing my part to help the animal overpopulation issue and I get to see cute puppies every day :)

3.) Public speaking has helped me with my work with MN-SNAP when I am speaking to clients or pet owners. Whether on the phone or when they come to drop or pick up their animals, I feel more comfortable answering their questions. I also feel more knowledgeable on the subject when speaking with the vet staff and other people in the field from my extra research for my speeches.

4.) The best thing about volunteering with MN-SNAP is the great response from pet owners in the community. Everyone wants to thank you and is so appreciative that there is a program like this in place. Knowing I am a part of that is a really great feeling. The biggest obstacle is trying to do more for MN-SNAP but not having the time, with work, school, volunteering and life, there is never enough time. Hopefully when I am finished with my classes this semester I can devote one or two more shifts to the program. I'd like to explore what other ways I can volunteer with them as well.

ACES program- Sahr Ngekia

1. As a volunteer at my site I've been working with kids between the grades of six and eight. The day will start out in the lunchroom where all the volunteers meet, and talk about the day until school has ended. Then the volunteers meet up with the students, begin the ACES after-school program, and go to a classroom to work on homework. After that we go to the lunchroom for snack, go back to the classroom, and eventually the computer lab where the kids work on emails that are sent to their mentors. To end the day the kids have their choice of free time, which is either spent outside, in the gym, or in the computer lab.

2. The work benefits the organization because we as volunteers are there to help motivate the kids academically. We're there to give them support when they have questions on homework, or need someone to talk to. This work benefits me because I'm able to be around different people, and learn about different races.

3. There have been a few connections between public speaking and my service project. In my work for the program I have to be able to talk to the kids, and lead them through the different activities. Also this service project relates to the theme of civil ethics in or public speaking class because this program was started in order to help young kids academically when they are at risk of not getting a proper education.

4. The best thing so far about the service learning is the different people I get to work with. The worst part is that since I work only one day a week on the same day, the schedule is the same, but that's not really a big deal because it's entertaining working with the kids. The biggest obstacle is probably the language barrier. At the school I volunteer at there are many hispanic students, and for some of them their first language isn't English so at times it difficult to understand the points their trying to make. I plan on overcoming this obstacle by taking more time to comprehend what their saying, and getting help from others if I need to do so.

I have the opportunity to volunteer with different events each week. On a typical day I volunteer with children, teaching them about track, helping them with arts and crafts and playing many different physical activities with them.

2. This work benefits my organization because they do not pay us to volunteer therefore there is more money left over in the program to keep it running. It benefits me by being a better leader and I feel like it has made me become a more mature student. My social skills have also improved by talking with children and their parents.

3. I have had to use my voice many times for service learning. For an example, this past weekend I taught a group of junior high and high school students about track and I sat them all down and gave them a speech on what they should be doing to have the best season possible. I have also had to use a microphone in front of 300 children where I introduced myself and told the audience about myself. I feel like by doing this I have become a better public speaker.

4. The best thing about service learning so far is making others happy for the deeds that you do. The worst thing about service learning is when I have to volunteer with events where I am not interacting with others and I have to work behind the curtains instead. The biggest obstacle is to not be shy around parents who are with their children. I plan to overcome this obstacle by realizing that these parents want me to be hanging out with their kids and they want me to be having fun with their kids. I need to realize that they are not judging me.

Jackie to Sara W

I agree with you when you said that the best thing about service learning is making connections with children. Some of the children that we are volunteering with are ones that we probably wont forget because of the way the impact our lives also. I can relate to your volunteer experience and I can also relate to the feeling you must get after knowing that you helped so many different children. When you see improvement in children it probably makes you feel like you are doing your job right. I think your volunteer experience seems like a great thing to do and it has got me really interested in volunteering with an organization like this in the future. Keep up the good work.

Kelsey Bank- Free Arts MN

1. I go to the Bridges site and am in a group of 4 other college volunteers. We have an art project for the week and go to 4 different classrooms of different ages to help them do the project.

2. Since Free Arts is based on volunteers, I help save the non-profit money by giving up my time. I am an extra hand to the classroom of kids, so we can have more one-on-one help with mentors to kids, but still be in a fun group setting. I'm learning to work with kids and have more leadership in volunteering.

3. Some kids are very outgoing and loud while others are reserved. Some kids take a while to feel comfortable around the volunteers, so my public speaking helps me to have conversations with the children, as well as the other volunteers and the main intern. I've seen how Free Arts MN helps out civic life with its mentorships in the community. I was able to research the organization even before I started to have a good base of their values and what they are trying to accomplish.

4. The best thing about service learning is that it is hands-on learning. I may be learning about civic life in class, but putting it to action with service-learning gives real life experience. It's nice to give up just a few hours a week to help out children and have fun with art projects. It was just a little hard starting out with the application process, which took a little time. I hope I get enough hours in because I started later than I hoped and we had two more weeks of cancellations from snow and spring break. I'll be trying to get more hours in by going to every weekly mentorship of course, and possibly any workshops or outside activities that Free Arts holds for their mentors.

Ashley to Mikhail

It's great that you found a place to volunteer that approaches the topic that you are so interested in. I agree with you that the greatest part about volunteering is the mutual passion that both the students and professionals have for what they are doing. It makes your time seem so much more worthwhile. Public speaking seems to really come into play with the volunteer work you do more so than a position like mine, you must be constantly utilizing techniques used in class when approaching people. I understand how it can be hard to get other people interested in devoting free time for a cause, even if they are interested in it. There is a difference between caring, and doing something about it, but as long as people like you keep trying I'm sure there will be some people you can convince!

This is Kelsey to Sara W.

I agree that doing the intro speech about the organization really helped to understand the organization we work with and what issues are important to them. I learn even more when I'm volunteering as well.
When I work with kids at Free Arts, some of them will give up on their art project (instead of the homework) but it's nice to be there to keep them going and help them along.

Mikhail to Sahr

Sounds like you what you are doing is really beneficial. I really understand your struggle with the language barrier, nothing would frustrate me more then not being able to communicate with the kids I am trying to work with. Additionally, I liked the connection you drew between the course theme of civic life and ethics and your volunteer work. I would also argue that constantly talking to a group of children constitutes public speaking; children, unlike adults, are very difficult to speak to because they struggle to maintain focus. Finally, your volunteer work is a great service to the community and I think you what ACES stands for is very important.

To Sara from Sahr

I like your post the most because it's the same program that I'm working in. I didn't know that our days were so similar. I thought that each day had different activities involved. Also I like how you mention the 4th grade slump. Before this program I didn't know that there was such an issue. I knew that not all communities had equal resources to provide proper education, but I didn't know that this was an ongoing problem. Also I appreciate the work you've done for the program because I've done it too, and it is a lot of work at times.

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This page contains a single entry by Raechel published on March 9, 2011 10:27 PM.

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