The Benefits of Service
I think that one of the key ways that I can help to challenge and support others in developing increased cultural sensitivity is through service work. I know that my years in AmeriCorps were extremely valuable to me in terms of seeing the affects of systems of privilege and oppression at work and I have seen and heard about similar results in other people.
I was extremely lucky to help coordinate the service-learning opportunities for OSU Student Service break program during the winter of 2008 and belief that the programming we did was successful in introducing students to many issues surrounding socio-economic oppression. Our pre-trip programming centered on learning about and discussing the disparates in health care, transportation, education, safe living conditions, and overall human respect that people deal with as a result of living in poverty and/or experiencing homelessness. We had discussions about the challenges that the groups would face as they went out to complete their service projects and how they would handle coming face to face with the affects of poverty and homelessness.
While these conversations would have been beneficial for any group, I think that the service work provided a great experiential activity in cultural sensitivity. Gaining hands-on experience working with people different from oneself and gaining insight into other people’s lives, not from books, but from their own words is so important.
In the future, I am looking forward to getting back involved in the AmeriCorps alumni network, seeking out service projects that I am passionate about, and setting up projects for my colleagues and I to volunteer for together. I can also see being a staff supervisor to an student service group and helping to create and facilitate service learning activities that seek to address issues of social justice and multicultural awareness.