Service Learning

This article is a research done by a woman named Maylan Dunn-Kenney. In her study, she had 21 graduate students who came from different undergraduate backgrounds. The majority of the group were white, and they were all women. Dunn states that at the end of the service learning, many of the students had “began to see poverty as a systematic social problem that had pervasive effects on family life.” Also that, “Social isolation was a major negative effect of poverty and served to keep families in poverty.” Most of the students had dispelled many of the cultural biases that they had. One student planned her first play group experience to teach the children some manners. She had believed that children living in poverty had no manners. That was dispelled when the children picked up on the things the she modeled. She then goes to say that “the children do have manners and they are being constantly developed.” Another bias that someone had was that the parents didn’t love or care for their children because they live in poverty. The student said “ I was surprised how quickly the children were affectionate with us.” Another student said, “The experience game me a new perspective on poverty, I realize now, that the parents truly care for their children.” As if just because their poor, means that they don’t care for their children, I don’t understand that logic. Its not like their purposely poor. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be if they had an option. Those students had recognized their biases and changed their ways of thinking unlike some of the other students. One of the students stated that she was surprised that children were happy to help and said how could they be so happy. The same student said the students were “out for blood” while having a water balloon fight and that “the look in their eyes was scary” basically insinuating that black children are aggressive and out of control. The same student then wrote that she wept because she had to leave the children, she wanted to take them, feed them, and clothe them. She wanted to play the role of white savior. She also said she wasn’t prepared for the “violent acts” some of the children had.
In my service learning placement, we are at a church called Hope Alliance Bible Church located in Maple Heights Ohio. The church is about 2 miles away from my own neighborhood. The church offers an afterschool tutoring program for student from the neighborhood. The church provides transportation for the children, they pick them up from their schools and bring them back to the church then their parents pick them up after its over. Its mainly for lower-class families. It gives the children a place to go afterschool instead of going home because most of the families, the mother is the head of the household and she’s at work. So, they come to the church and get help with their homework. After their done with their homework they usually watch a video on YouTube about something educational. They then recite a bible verse together after they do that someone can say a prayer then we all share a meal together. We all sit together at a long dinner table and eat together. The instructors said they do that because many of the families don’t sit together at the dinner table and share a meal. So they want to give the children a chance to experience that. I can relate to that, in my home, we don’t sit at the table and eat together and really talk, so it is great that I get to experience that there. One of the leaders Mrs. Anita was a teacher, and she focuses mainly on literacy. They have a lot of books that we read to the children after their done with their homework. My tutee is a first grader. He’s only 6 years old and his homework is mostly letter recognition and addition so far. He doesn’t know how to read yet, but he loves to be read to, so I read him all the books he wants. There is another little boy who is also in the first grade and he knows how to read. With my child, I was beginning to judge him because he didn’t know how to read yet. I had to stop my self because it was ignorant. Although he doesn’t know how to read yet, its fine. Not all children develop at the same rate and start reading at the same time, so for me to think that he should be reading, was ignorant and foolish. I am learning to not judge the children although we all know you aren’t supposed to judge, but when its something that your not accustomed to, you cant help it. That is something that we all need to change because I know its something that we all do. A way to change that is to become more versed in different cultures and learn about differences everyone my have.

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