I started my service-learning experience with the Refugee Youth Project at Northeast Middle School on Monday. My first day was very encouraging because I was thoughtfully accommodated to my new surroundings with the help of the leaders at this site. Before arriving, I was anxious since I did not know how the children would behave, and I was apprehensive that I would not easily connect with them. Much to my astonishment, these young children were well behaved and brought an air of liveliness even when I was helping them with homework. It was remarkable that, in an instant, I was able to connect with them and begin my journey toward understanding and educating these eager, young students.
Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, and Langston Hughes’s poems, “Old Walt”, and “Formula” can be interwoven with my service learning because they all share the common element of passion. In Frankenstein, a bright and well-educated Victor Frankenstein is consumed with a desire to find the secret of life. Soon, this desire becomes an obsession and after years of hard work and dedication Frankenstein is convinced that, he has the knowledge necessary to create life, “I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more I became myself capable of bestowing animation on lifeless matter” (30).
He, overflowing with pride, then sets out to create the ideal man. However, in spite of all his intelligence, his studies, his hard work and determination, a monster is born. The monster is the result of Victor’s massive ego, reflected in his belief that he can create human life. The consequential creation is a hideous example of the physical attributes of human life, yet, within this monster lies a warm, loving being who wishes for others to treat him likewise. The misdirected passion that enraptured Victor led him to create a being that did not live up to his expectations. Eventually, the creator, Frankenstein, filled with horror reacts in a cowardly fashion by fleeing from the scene and abandoning his creation. The monster is left to fend for himself, a troubled being in an alien environment. As Frankenstein reflects on this time, he realizes that his own passion was his worst enemy.
Langston Hughes’s poem, “Formula”, evidently proves to be a parody, judging from the context of the lines, expressing sarcasm. This poem was written ironically, offering a negative portrayal of poets and their poetry in that some choose to view only the beauty in the world while others possess the passion and commitment to expose wrongs. Hughes expresses that there is a common error in poetry, which is the fact that some poets tend to focus their works on pleasant images, instead of the pain, suffering and unpleasant images found in that world. Langston wants poets who have a passion for what they do to express all elements of reality, and not avoid those less than joyful areas of interest and concern. Poetry should be rich with passion, imparting truth and wisdom while praising what is right, and condemning what is wrong. The poem, “Old Walt”, is Hughes’s way of praising Walt Whitman’s passion. Whitman was an American poet, who sought to create a new and distinctly American form of poetry. Langston admires the fact that Whitman does not give up on his passion, and the fact that Whitman seems to gain more insight from various sources instead of strictly from those that are obvious. “Old Walt”, informs us that the search for what one desires can be just as meaningful, informative and rewarding as are the results realized.
My service at Northeast Middle provides an opportunity to express my passion to become a teacher. It further indicates the reason why I want to become a teacher, because knowing that I have the opportunity to influence children’s lives in a positive manner makes the hard work and preparation well worth it. It is very humbling and rewarding to participate in this program, because it can help me learn and grow to become a great role model for my future students. Learning about each child, with their own unique cultural backgrounds, can guide me to better understand how to provide them with the most effective methods of education.
My first day of service learning at Northeast Middle was a great experience and one that I will cherish for a long time. I was grateful to spend time with these wonderful children, who welcomed me with warm hearts and radiant smiles. I was accepted immediately, developed a spontaneous sense of belonging and overcame any anxieties that were present prior to my arrival. The two poems by Langston Hughes, the novel by Mary Shelley, and my service correlate with one another because like Victor Frankenstein, poets, and Walt Whitman, I have a strong passion as well, and I refuse to let it slip away.