Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Positive Influences in Education

I am elated to be fortunate enough to participate in service learning with young and needy children during my first semester at Loyola.  The program is titled The Refugee Youth Project at Northeast Middle School in Baltimore and involves hands-on interaction with the children.  This after-school program seeks to improve the lives of Baltimore’s youngest refugees by supporting their academic needs, and helping to make their acculturation simple and meaningful.  As a tutor for these middle school children, I will be able to provide homework help and to serve as a positive role model and mentor, something to which I eagerly look forward.  My future service-learning participation is connected with the poems, “Suburban” and “Ode to American English” and the short story, “The Cask of Amontillado” through the identification of positives and negatives found therein. 
The poem, “Suburban” by John Ciardi, provides the reader with humor and irony as a man is accused by a suburban woman of allowing his dog to defecate on her flowers.  The accusation itself is an example of irony because all living things need to release wastes, but the tone that Mrs. Friar uses seems to portray that she has no need to defecate and finds this natural cycle repulsive.  It is evident that the author does not respond the way he would like to this irksome neighbor but nevertheless, remains cordial and accommodating.  Though providing information that his dog never committed the “crime” because it was away with his son in Vermont, he remains a good neighbor and agrees to pick up the droppings much to his chagrin.  This exemplifies irony as the author does the opposite of what we expect him to do, even the opposite of what he wants to say or do.  The author ultimately proves to be moral by complying with Mrs. Friar’s inferred solution to her dilemma despite the fact of his innocence.  My service connects with this poem because I need to behave like the author when faced with various hardships during my participation.  There will be problems between the children I work with and myself such as language barriers, behavior, and lack of communication.  As I am faced with these difficulties, I need to remind myself to be cordial like the author, keeping a positive attitude and demonstrating respect for others.  It is imperative that I represent myself as a positive role model for these children no matter what.  I need to treat others the way I wish to be treated despite the fact that others might treat me in a rash manner.  This lesson should assist me to stay on a good, progressive path as I complete my service learning.  
            The poem, “Ode to American English” by Barbara Hamby, describes how a woman is able to see and hear the beauty of her homeland, America.  It is evident that this woman is a loyal American portraying patriotism and pride in her culture.  She addresses diverse idiosyncrasies that for her make American English completely different from British English.  The author embraces these differences in languages by stating more than once how much she misses hearing them.  This poem should really be entitled “Ode to American Culture” because the entire American culture is what she truly misses.   She yearns for the smallest things found in the American culture, things taken for granted until they are not seen or heard for a period of time.  My participation with The Refugee Youth Project relates with this poem because I will be working with children of various cultures and backgrounds.  It is imperative that I teach these children to exemplify pride in their culture and to be accepting of other students with their own distinctive cultures as well.  Instead of just simply stressing American education rules and skills, I should enable these children to express how they feel about their own countries and the cultures that coexist with them.  Strictly trying to transform these refugees into American students with no regard for their individual heritage would be counter-productive to their future growth and maturity.

A reading of “The Cask of Amontillado” exposes an individual to a series of flaws in the character of the narrator.  From his initial two-faced approach to Fortunato at the Carnival to his totally unforgiving attitude throughout and on to his scheming and plotting ways, highlighted by his devious dealings with his attendants, this man epitomizes evil.  Everything he intends to accomplish is based on his insatiable desire for revenge, for a thousand injuries never explained in this story. Relating the behavior of the narrator to my service to the children of Baltimore is rather obvious. Neither I nor anyone else should be so caught up in the search for revenge that it becomes so all- consuming and results in a most evil end. My service is and will continue to be for the benefit of the children in my charge, that service performed with love and respect for everyone. Perceived slights will be disregarded, character flaws in others will be identified and through loving counseling corrected and only the most positive traits in the children highlighted. Poe has written a short story of the ultimate revenge and in doing so has provided me with a list of personal imperfections that I shall avoid at all cost

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