Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"Be the Change You Wish to See in the World"

           I continued my service-learning experience with my second week at Northeast Middle School on Monday October 22nd.  I worked with young boys and girls on creating drawings, playing games, but most importantly working with them on their homework.  It was intriguing for me when I noticed how some children tried very hard with their work, while others did the bare minimum by looking at the answers that the children that worked through the problems got instead of thinking for themselves.  For me, this is an imperative issue that needs to be worked on because children need to be motivated to learn and not focus on getting the easy way out of things.  During the next weeks of my service I will work on getting each student to fully participate, encouraging him or her to become dedicated and persistent in his or her pursuit of positive outcomes in their future.  
            Bharati Mukherjee’s short story, “A Father”, Stephanie Shapiro’s article, “Serving Up Hope”, Richard Hague’s poem “Directions for Resisting the SAT, and Gary Gildner’s poem “First Practice”, all connect with my service learning experience regarding the values of faith and traditions and how they contribute with a person’s relationships with themselves as individuals as well as with others.  In “A Father” the themes of tradition and faith are very evident through the character Mr. Bhowmick, and they are a prominent part of the story.  This main character has a close, spiritual relationship with idols and shrines, and he recites prayers to the patron goddess of his family daily.  Mr. Bhowmick seems to let his faith preoccupy and dictate every part of his life.  Instead of allowing himself to live a happy life, he sees simple things that are folly superstitions and puts them into greater context because of his faith.  From the story we find out that this Indian father’s wife made him leave his successful, happy life to go to America.  He holds tight to his Indian values much to the chagrin of his wife and daughter who keep their lives deeply rooted in American values.  The theme of the relationships between men and women is also an important aspect of this story.  It is clear that Mr. Bhowmick is unhappy that his daughter chose to become pregnant through artificial insemination, which completely goes against his faith.  From reading the story we can see that he is jealous of how his own daughter has easily become successful when he compares it to his hardship and struggle of trying to find stability with his new life in Detroit.  He believes that males are very prominent in society and that they have every right to the most success.  When his daughter, Babli, reveals that there is no father to her baby, she is struck by her father and not her mother.  Babli tries to explain that the donor is a good genetic candidate, but the father focuses on how his daughter has broken tradition and social expectations.  This short story proves that tradition and faith can have a negative affect on families. 
            Stephanie Shapiro’s article, “Serving Up Hope”, was very uplifting and inspiring because it was about helping the less fortunate realize their own potential in the world and know that they are valued.  Bridget and Galen Sampson allowed people to develop their own strengths by letting previous drug users train with Galen who would teach them culinary skills to get them on a better path of life.  The couple has proven that giving back to your community and allowing people to develop their own strengths can contribute to developing your own strengths as well.  The article mentions how this couple from Baltimore grew in their business potential and individual strength through collaborating to open Dogwood Deli, which enables people to learn how to cook and serves as a comfortable transition period for people who are rehabilitating from drug use.  These people learn about work ethic, and are blessed to be surrounded by a good support system to keep them motivated.  Through their faith in social justice, this selfless couple was driven to give back to their community, give hope to its citizens, and change people’s lives for the better.  They showed that it is possible for people to create their own path to success and that they should recognize that they are important and valued. 
             Richard Hague’s poem, “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, mentions the common tradition that all high school students go through.  They are constantly pressured by teachers and other outside sources to do well on this testing in order to get into good colleges.  However this poem gives us advice on how we should not let the SAT define us as students and affect how we should live our lives.  We also should never follow the norm of what others may do because we need to demonstrate our individuality.  The speaker stresses that we should always make our own decisions by saying, “Make your marks on everything” and not focus on what others have to say about our choices.  The speaker is letting us know that we should not let the results of one test predict how our futures will turn out and not let the SAT tamper with our passions, dreams, and goals.
            Gary Gildner’s poem, “First Practice” takes a different approach by emphasizing how competition is a good thing and that it is necessary for success at least according to Coach Clifford Hill.  An athlete describes how his coach is pushing his team to fight and struggle for success in order for them to have faith in themselves.  He may be overbearing and overwhelming, but his technique proves to be effective because intimidation can lead to good results.  The initial experience of this first practice is very pressuring for this high school football team, but the coach is trying to open their eyes to the many opportunities and potential they have to be a great team.  This experience can also determine how willing you are to work hard now and for any future endeavors.  This coach is doing his best to motivate his team to work as hard as they can to achieve success.  He has faith in his team, and he wants his team to be strong and have faith that they can be legendary.
            During my service I noticed that there was one student with whom I worked that was extremely committed to her studies.  She has been at school every week, and I am enthralled at how motivated this young girl is to get a better education and improve her life.  Unlike some of the students in her class, this student tries hard to succeed, and it is amazing to see how well she is excelling.  Some of the students lack faith in themselves, resulting in their discouragement to attempt to do their work.  It is extremely important for the class as a whole to willingly learn, and they need to be constantly motivated in order to do so.  I will work closely with the students next week to ensure that all students will be excelling and realize that they have the potential to do anything to which they put their minds.  If lack of an education is an accepted trait or tradition in their families, these children need to break away from these hindrances by working hard in school as they pursue happy and healthy lives.             

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