Putting the 'I' in "Service"
My experiences working with the kids at Langston Hughes this semester have not so much changed my perspective on service as they have changed my perspective on the attitude I bring to the work being done. I have realized that while my presence is useful, it is neither necessary nor particularly important to those I have worked with- the experience is just as much for me as it is for them. When working with the ReThink staff, my role is more observational than participant; akin to being a teacher’s aid in a classroom- involved but by no means dominant in the group dynamic. What I bring to the table as a Tulane student is a small skill set that will hopefully result in helping these children express themselves through media; my opinions and perspectives are generally not shared, nor do they need to be. Putting my own ego in the backseat and realizing that what I have to say is not necessarily beneficial or useful to these children has been important, as it has allowed me to quiet my own thoughts and listen to theirs. I can genuinely say that I have learned much more from the kids than they have learned from me. The general consensus on service work is that the “haves” should assuage their material and monetary guilt by dedicating “valuable” time and resources to the “have nots”. I find this concept to be very outdated and unrealistic. Whether or not I am present, the kids at Langston Hughes will continue to learn, grow, and work towards their goals. I am simply privileged enough to have access to the process, and do what I can to help them along the way.
By Clare Tuck