Service-Learning Journey

In high school I participated in a Spring Break service trip to South Africa that showed me the ability of education to empower students. Working with children taught me to revalue my education as much as they valued theirs. School was their safe place from the violence, poverty, and uncertainty of their homes. Even in the youngest classrooms, school served as their gateway to personal satisfaction. From this experience, I developed the conviction that school should be a low-risk, high-reward laboratory of life that allows for personal, intellectual, and social development.

Since this trip, I have committed myself to improving the quality of education in my local and global community through my college initiatives. I have served as an academic tutor, volunteered with Teach for America’s spring break service trip, developed educational programs for the sorority community, and organized multicultural education presentations for CampFire USA’s summer camp for children. My research experience with education includes working in Anne Charity Hudley’s project focused on language variation in fall 2009, as well as courses in education policy, community studies, international development, and sociology.

My experience in government classes over the past two years has taught me how institutions, such as education, shape politics. With each class I take for my major, I gain a new perspective of how power over these institutions ultimately shapes society. My government classes also provide greater meaning to the education system and its role in political socialization and fostering greater multicultural understanding. With every assignment I become gain multicultural literacy.

With the greater goal of multicultural literacy in mind, I pursued community engagement research in conjunction with my service trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina that allowed me to explore nonviolent communication techniques and how they can be applied to the classroom. Nonviolent communication is a process of communicating that enables multicultural literacy and intercultural understanding.

Many of my initial paths in service-learning have allowed me the opportunity to give back to other students in the William & Mary community. I currently serve as a mentor through the Sharpe Fellows program and serving as a Teaching Assistant for Paula Pickering’s Bosnia Project course. As a senior, being able to reflect on my own experience and put myself in the shoes of freshmen supports my continued growth as an active citizen as I am able to truly see how far I have come on my journey.

In the future I plan to pursue a Masters in Education and eventually use my degree to create education policy and programming that will focus both on processes of learning and not simply results. In opposition to our current education culture of “teaching to the test,” I seek to contribute a system of public education that develops a knowledgeable citizen of the world.

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