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Reflections on a Year of National Service
Editor's Note: This is the third year that an AmeriCorps or VISTA member from the Federal Way AmeriCorps and VISTA Team has written a reflections column for Volunteer. Meet Ellie Klein the latest person to take time to share observations about working with volunteers and her experience kids. These columns are a reflections of the impact that volunteering has on someone's life. Enjoy.
Federal Way AmeriCorps and VISTA Team. Established in 1995, the Federal Way AmeriCorps program works to strengthen the Federal Way community through academic tutoring and modeling an ethic of service.
AmeriCorps members in Federal Way serve full time in the Federal Way Public Schools. In addition to tutoring students and developing before and after school programs, members manage two community tutoring programs, implement civic engagement community projects and serve in area service projects. AmeriCorps members also recruit and train community volunteers. For more information on their programs http://www.fwps.org/dept/volunteer/acfw.html
COOL AS A CAT, DOTING AS A DOG
Very much like my first cat, Raindrop Breezy Rainbow, my high schoolers don’t always like me. At Decatur High School, students try to determine why I’m in their world, my exact role in their lives and why they should have to listen to me. Sometimes they seem excited by my youth, at others they seem frustrated by yet another adult they need to respect. Raindrop would often bite me when I gave him too much attention, just as my high schoolers groan when I shower them with too much positivity. In this world, I have to win the attention of students. They rarely like me at first sight and most definitely do not remember my name. They will give me looks of disdain when I ask them to put away their cell phones and frequently avoid eye contact in the hallway as I enthusiastically wave at them. I slowly win them over by reappearing in their world day after day, making jokes at my own expense, continuing to smile at them when they turn away, and, of course, by the occasional “please just like me a little” bribe of candy. Just as I think I am winning them over as they flash me a smile, they revert back and ignore the next thing I say. Suddenly their cell phone reappears from the depths of their backpack as they explain that the next text will surely be the most important they ever send. Their affection is hard to win and even harder to maintain.
I once read an article about how we should show the same type of patience and understanding to our spouse as we do to our pets. The same should go for students. You get what you give, and although students may know better, getting upset at a five-year-old who runs in the hallway is going to do as much good as yelling at my dog for eating the chocolate off the floor. I may rejoice at an internal win of showing them how I feel, but what am I really gaining out of this interaction? The five-year-old probably felt hurt by my words and my dog likely shuffled away confused. They doubtfully “learned their lesson”, and I likely just raised my blood pressure.
Corporation for National and Community Service
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