Emily Eckardt '13,

As a women's & gender studies major and political-science minor at Dickinson, Emily Eckardt '13 isn't just learning about cultural stereotypes and policy making-she's learning how to make a difference. That's because, in addition to her coursework, Eckardt has taken on a full slate of service-learning projects ranging from Serve the World trips to New Orleans, Philadelphia and Arizona to volunteer positions at the Carlisle C.A.R.E.S emergency shelter and the local YWCA Rape Crisis Center. "I notice connections all the time between my volunteer work and my classes," she explains. "The interconnectedness of my interdisciplinary academics and community work has been incredible. My goal is to work from the personal to policy level, ensuring that all people-regardless of gender, class, race or culture-have equal opportunity."

Melissa Flannigan, Coordinator of Girl Scouts  

November 10th, 2011

The past few weeks of being a coordinator for Girl Scouts has been very exciting and a great experience so far.  I have really enjoyed working with the girls and with my volunteers because everyone I work with is so passionate about making each meeting with the Girl Scouts as interesting, and enjoyable as possible.  It has definitely been a change of pace from going from a volunteer last year to a coordinator this year.  It is much more demanding and really requires effort and good time management.  At first, I found myself stressed under the pressure of putting together the program and making sure everything for the first day of Girl Scouts went as planned.  However, as the days have progressed I have found it much less stressful and very enjoyable to lead such a wonderful program.  I am so thankful that I have this position because of the potential I see in the girls I work with and how I cannot wait for them to excel through the Girl Scouts program.  My volunteers have given great insight on different activities and are extremely helpful in assisting me with planning different events.  I have learned about myself in that, as a leader, I thrive when I can work with others alongside me and we are able to bounce ideas off one another.  I have learned that I am motivated to get things done, but love to hear others’ thoughts on everything I plan.  These past few weeks I have been inspired by the Girl Scouts and how much this program helps them grow into young adults.  It has become more obvious to me that many girls do not have such a positive influence in their homes and our program serves as an outlet for them to feel safe and give them a chance to have fun while simultaneously learning.  I have found myself bonding with the girls I work with, and feel connected to each one of them, which in turn motivates me to make every Girl Scouts day as positive and enjoyable as possible.  Although it has been difficult in recruiting more girls for the program, we still have been able to make the most out of every meeting.  The main challenge I have faced is getting a larger number for the Junior Girl Scouts program especially after last year when there were a lot more girls then there are currently.  This then presents the challenge of buying materials for each meeting because we are unsure of the exact number of girls that will be coming, since more girls apply each week but do not actually show up to meetings.  Even though this presents itself as disheartening, my volunteers and I continue to persevere in getting more girls to join.  I continue to call their parents each week and more girls are planning on coming, which has been great news.  My experience these past few weeks has been nothing but rewarding and a great opportunity to form connections and provide for an educational but fun activity for many girls.  Even though there have been some challenges, I have learned from each of them which in turn have taught me more about myself as a leader and a person.

Brad Roller, Coordinator of Rotoract

November 2nd, 2011

I define service as a means one takes to better their community.  This service may be approached in numerous ways.  As outlined in Mira’s “Service and Social Justice” talk a few weeks ago, I believe there are many approaches to service that lie on a scale that can be measured by immediate impact.  Volunteering at a food bank, for example, may help to feed people now, but organizing a large demonstration aimed at changing a system that allows such hunger to persist has a much greater potential to alter the need of such service in the future.  Although I have been a participant in the first kind of service I referred to, which I believe is a necessary and perhaps only immediate way to better the situation, I feel as though the most effective vehicle for change is education and activism.          

My perception of service has not changed since working with Rotaract.  I still feel like service within the community is important for the betterment of lives now, but as I mentioned above, many of the problems we confront through service are the result of systematic failures.  I have just recently decided that I would like to dedicate my service to the changing of these failures.  This being said, Rotaract is in the process of providing both types of service.  Rotaract has been looking into collaborating with community partners to tutor and read to students in the area.  We have also been organizing a lecture dedicated to analyzing the potential impact of uranium mining in the United States.  This lecture would help people see the potential dangers of mining, and hopefully prevent future problems that could negatively affect the lives of U.S. citizens.         

These types of service are vital to any community.  I believe that both immediate service and education dedicated to the prevention of future systematic failures will help our chances for a better future.  I will be very pleased if Rotaract is able to help achieve these goals.

Paige Fallon, Coordinator of America Reads

October 27th, 2011

My mother taught me well. She has taught me to be kind, to treat others as I would want to be treated, and to always remember how lucky I am because not everyone has as much as I do. These simple lessons ingrained into me throughout my upbringing made the requirement to participate in community service in high school second nature. I was never one to complain because I thoroughly enjoyed any service opportunity that came my way. So when I came to college and service was no longer a requirement for me, it did not by any means lead to no longer participating in it. I had fallen in love with the feeling that comes from helping others and knowing you have the power to make even the smallest difference in a community. 

I jumped at volunteer opportunities as soon as I could at Dickinson, but with the stress of being a freshman I was slow at finding the opportunities that best fit my capabilities. It was not until junior year when a sister in my sorority was recruiting for the CommServ program she ran, Carlisle Tutoring, which I began to find the volunteer opportunities that best fit my personality and individualized skills. Those opportunities all involved working with kids, something I have loved and been doing for a long time.  I jumped right into Carlisle Tutoring and participating in as many aspects of the program as I could, I even received volunteer of the month in my first month as a mentee. Carlisle Tutoring was just the beginning for me though, after a taste of the CommServ kids programs I knew I wanted to explore my other options and that is when I discovered America Reads.

To tell you the truth, I cannot even remember how I got involved with America Reads, but I somehow did and am very glad for that matter. Through the program, which I now coordinate, I am able to work with and get to know a classroom of adorable kindergarteners each week. They always brighten up my week and knowing that my assistance in their writing is going to be the beginning of a great education for these kids makes it all worthwhile. I’ve realized it is never too late to figure out where your skills are best needed and I believe CommServ and America Reads has helped me with that.

Chang Voon, Coordinator of Girl Scouts

October 20th, 2011

As a senior and a second year CommServ coordinator, I am ecstatic to continue with the Girl Scouts program. Last year, my experience was quite a learning process. I found myself having difficulty in setting up a solid foundation, gaining a strong respect from the girls, and working in communication with my fellow team members. Now knowing the ins and outs, I will help towards improvement and make the program better for the girls, parents, and volunteers. This semester, the Girl Scouts have a remarkable crew of new coordinators and new volunteers, who I hope will enjoy the experience. Starting as a new coordinator, I learned, can be confusing and stressful. My goal is to eliminate those things and guide others in understanding their role and duties while also showing them a good time. However, the only negative aspect is that we are a group of seniors. I hope to work on recruitment for the girl scouts in during this year by recruiting potential student coordinators who are freshmen and/or sophomores. This ensures that the scouts get a sense of stability – something they may or may not possess at home. At the end of the day, what matters the most is the well-being of our Girl Scouts. It makes me feel good knowing that we are role models, who provide a space for girls to feel safe, secure, and happy.

Kaitlyn Jurewicz, America Reads Coordinator

October 13, 2011

My first year at Dickinson, I was the typical (or perhaps not-so-typical) overzealous student who wanted to sign up for everything. So naturally, I was drawn to the variety or organizations under CommServ. Knowing that I wanted to work with kids, I became a mentor for America Reads, Big Brothers/ Big Sisters and Empower. Although I enjoyed my time with each of these programs, I recognized that not all of them provided me with the experience I had been expecting. It was then that I realized that service does not simply involve an individual helping the community – it is also a way for the community’s needs to dictate how one best uses their individual talents.

With this idea in mind, I chose the devote my time and attention to America Reads, which from the beginning allowed me to work closely with students in a comfortable, yet productive learning environment. By working with this program, I have discovered my talent for working with young children, which in turn has led me to consider it as a possible vocation. I have also outright seen my efforts manifest into visible results, something which I hope my mentors will also learn to appreciate as the year progresses. The most rewarding part of working with this program is the knowledge that I am providing students with the foundation for their education – without literacy, higher learning is impossible to achieve.

As the current coordinator for America Reads, my best advice to those new to service is to try out a few different options. Participating in service is not only community-based, but also results in a great deal of introspection. Although you may not be suited for every program, you will eventually find the program which most showcases your talents and produces the most rewarding results.

Katie Walters, Montgomery Leader

October, 6th, 2011

About a month ago, when Tropical Storm Lee was causing major flooding in many areas along the east coast, I was too busy settling in to the new semester at Dickinson to pay much attention. I heard that parts of Harrisburg were underwater and saw the pictures of a swamped Hershey Park, but that was about it. Even after I signed up for the service trip to Bloomsburg I didn’t look into what had actually happened too much. So I was shocked when we drove into Bloomsburg last Saturday morning and saw several houses, with curtains still in the windows, completely consumed by large holes in the earth. We had been on a perfectly normal looking highway, surrounded by perfectly normal looking homes and suddenly we were in a neighborhood full of debris piles, empty houses, and mud. For the better part of the afternoon my group helped a woman, whose home had been under 4 feet of water, tear out moldy kitchen cabinets and doors. This woman is 70 years old.  She was born and raised in Bloomsburg. Her siblings are still there, and her great-grandfather’s name is even carved on the  Civil War Memorial in town. In 2006, she lost her 117 year old family home to another flood, and bought the house she was living in (until last month) because they told her it was "flood proof." Now she has to wait, just as she did five years ago, to hear whether or not her house can be saved or will be condemned. Despite all of that, she was happy to see us, and happy to talk to us as she cleaned off what was left of her jewelry and tried to dry out her family photos and favorite leather jacket. I was surprised by how much damage the flood had done, but I was even more surprised by the strength of this woman.

Michael Blair, Montgomery Service Leader Intern 

September 29, 2011

According the ever reliable dictionary.com, service is defined as “an act of helpful activity.” Through the Montgomery Service Leaders, Service Trips, and CommServ, service under this idea is performed daily, as students generously give up their time to help adults, children, students, and the elderly, across not just the Carlisle region, but beyond. This idea of what is “helpful,” though can often become a point of contention. In my senior seminar this week, this contentious point came to light, as the six-year old question of whether we should rebuild New Orleans was brought up, and the ever popular question of why colleges and universities should send students down every year, just to apply paint and clean up areas that will only need to be redone five years. These actions are considered “service” by definition, but it is its longevity of the solution that is the point of debate for some. Are we just providing a band aid and covering up real social problems? Or are we providing a needed service? 

After reflecting upon this idea after class, the best I can come up with is a re-definition of service. Service is not just “an act of helpful activity,” but sometimes it is an act of hope, in a time or place of despair. Sure my painted walls may need to be re-done soon, or the fact that I can’t dry wall will soon become apparent in the upcoming years, but sometimes that is not the point of service. As Aesop, a Greek author once said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” And this holds true to service, no matter how small a contribution, the effect that you have on another person, or place, is ever wasted. Service by others is what inspires people to hope and believe, and for those of us who have had the opportunity to work with others, whether in New Orleans, Carlisle, or abroad, we know that sometimes, just that is enough.

Bernadette Brandt  '13

September 15, 2011

When I entered Dickinson as a first year, I was dead set on becoming an International Business and Management major. I had always fantasized about owning my own business someday. When I took Introduction to Business during my first semester, I did not enjoy it at all. Every class we studied how to make money and maximize profit. I was disturbed by the ethical implications involved in making a business profitable, such as the exploitation of workers, the environment and communities. After this class, I knew that business was not the route for me.

Stuck on what I wanted from life, I reflected on my values. I evidently did not value money very highly. So what else? After some soul searching, I decided that community service was among my highest values. I began to look at the service I did at Dickinson. In my first year, I went on three service trips: Philadelphia, Arizona and New Orleans. These trips were the highlights of my freshman year. On each one, I met new people, had new experiences, learned about different cultures, and worked hard to make whatever small difference I could.

Yet at the same time, I am frustrated by the service work I do. It appears to be a never-ending cycle. Why doesn’t the need ever stop? What is the root cause of this need? How can I enact change on a larger scale than helping people one by one? I looked at every trip I’ve been on and realized that there are certain policies in place that preserve the status quo and prevent serious change from occurring. I decided that the best way change the world was to address the root of a problem by making new policies that can help facilitate more change and improve the lives of people on a grand scale. With this conclusion, I decided to declare Policy Management as my major with the hope that someday I can make policies that help people. I hope to make a significant difference.

My future plans and life goals have been tremendously shaped by my community service experiences. The various trips I have participated in led me to discover what I am truly passionate about, and then apply my passions in the classroom to utilize them fully. In my opinion, service trips are an invaluable part of an education. They enrich the students that participate on them and apply what is learned in the classroom to the real world. They inspire people to do more service work. They open people’s eyes to new cultures and people. They really do make a difference in the lives of the people served and the people serving. A true Dickinson education necessitates a unique learning experience that pulls students out of their comfort levels, and service trips are a great way to do this.

Taylor Putnam, RLCS Program Coordinator 

September 8th, 2011

When I first got involved in community service I can honestly say that I did it for the wrong reasons. After being abroad for a semester I wanted to get involved on campus again and meet new people, but I had little interest in the Carlisle community. I had also been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder around that same time which made it particularly difficult for me to adjust to being back at Dickinson. My PTSD made day-to-day living rather challenging because I was constantly anxious, but participating in community service helped take my mind off of the stressors. After regularly engaging in community service I found college life to be much more manageable, and for the first time in months I felt comfortable in my surroundings. Only then did I realize that I had this symbiotic relationship with community service: the service I did had obvious benefits to the community but the act of doing service itself also helped me recover and grow as a person. It made me view my life from a different perspective and see that even though I had recently faced many difficulties, I still had many things to be thankful for. Because of this my priorities in life have changed dramatically. I began to focus less on materialistic things and instead have concerned myself more with how I can be of service to the community.

Luigi Fu, Day of Service Intern

April 28th, 2011 

As the Day of Service intern, I’ve had to sacrifice my weekends, develop new skills and use them to the best of my ability and spend long hours planning these events to ensure that it runs smoothly.  My motivation to continue with the work has been to help connect those who need help to those who want to help, to spark an interest in Dickinson students to volunteer in the Carlisle community, and to help create connections between Dickinson and Carlisle.  There is also the personal motivation to continue doing service and to find opportunities for myself to develop professionally and push myself to the limit.  There are times when my values that motivate me are challenged by certain events such as the Day of Service event to help the Bosler Memorial Library with their first fundraiser.  I saw a great opportunity before the event to help the Library with their first annual fundraiser and make it a great success so that they can continue it every year.  They asked for 60 volunteers and I struggled to find 40, thinking that it would be worth it at the end.  However, on the day of the event, I realized that there was no connection being made between the community partner and the Dickinson students.  They did not see their service as beneficial to the community and I did not feel that the value of their service matched their expectations.  Instead I felt as though students were unmotivated and pushed them away from service.

But there are also times when my values are reaffirmed by students and faculty, along with the event.  At the Kings Gap Day of Service event, the first event that I organized, Alecia Sundsmo, the new head of the Counseling Center, signed up for the event to explore the Carlisle area.  She was trying to discover what there was to offer in Carlisle and I helped with that connection.  The other volunteers had fun and discovered more about the Carlisle community.  That first event has pushed me to continue finding ways for students to get involved in the community.  Also during the Giving Tree, there were numerous students, faculty members, and Dickinson employees who gave up their time and money to help buy gifts for the children at the orphanage.  It reaffirmed my value that there are people who are finding ways to help and just need the opportunity to do so.  

My experience has challenged the prejudice that I held for the Dickinson campus.  I saw a community stuck in a bubble, unwilling to leave and offer whatever time they have to help those that live in the same community.  However, that was challenged when I was organizing the painting project at Hope Station.  There were more volunteers than we could take and actually had to tell people that they couldn’t come to the event.  It’s been a constant conflict everyday because I go through experiences that affirm and challenge my values   

Abbey Kalman, Co-Coordianator of Carlisle Tutoring

April 21, 2011

Throughout my volunteer work the past four years, I have learned the value of a truly dedicated volunteer. It often feels like volunteers, although enthusiastic in the beginning, quickly slip away. Many stop showing up, many will continue tutoring but deem the meetings not worth coming to, or even vise versa. It is very hard to find a genuine tutor—one who truly and fully commits to the very few requirements of the program. The past week has been specifically troubling with regards to this particular problem, and, as a coordinator, it begs the question: when I look at myself, would I consider myself a genuine volunteer? What does it mean to be a genuine volunteer? Does it meet to simply meet all requirements, in a timely manner? I am realizing that even though many of us struggle with that piece of the puzzle, to be a genuine volunteer goes beyond meeting commitments. I think to be a genuine volunteer means to follow through with commitment. I would hope that our volunteers take joy in the work that they do and feel good about knowing that their work is giving back to the community. I believe that I do this, but it is an eye opener to me. As a coordinator, it is easy to feel discouraged about our student mentors not meeting simple requirements. But then again, it is important to look at my own level of commitment. Could I be doing more? Could my work be of higher quality, more efficient, and could I be more dedicated? Absolutely. We could always do more. The question is, then, how do we evaluate ourselves? As long as our elf-evaluation is consistent with the way in which we evaluate others, I believe that is what makes a good coordinator. It is easy to get frustrated, but it is important to realize also that we all sometimes come up short and need to be reminded of why we want to stay committed to the work. Volunteer work is a whole different realm than most other work, as there is very little accountability. We are praised for doing almost any of it at all—it is up to us to commit to doing quality, consistent, and genuine work.

Helen Goldstein, Co-Coordinator of Girl Scouts

April 14th, 2011

My perceptions of volunteer work have both changed significantly and have stayed the same since beginning Girl Scouts. I have always known that I enjoyed service and that I love to work with kids, but I didn’t realize A. How much I love it and B. How much work it would be. The girls who come to Girl scouts have transformed in front of my eyes from rebellious adolescents who want nothing to do with Girl Scouts, or any of the group rituals, into excited an engaged members of the troop. Watching this transformation has helped me realize that Girl Scouts is not just about giving these girls a place to go after school… it is so much more than that. Girl Scouts, and other service programs provide kids with a place where they can go away from school and away from their home lives to learn from people who genuinely want to get to know THEM. The girls seem astounded when I, or the volunteers genuinely want to see what they are working on, or hear what they have been up to all week. I know they have touched my life, and I hope that in some way we have touched theirs.

Morgan Cheatham, Co-Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity

March 31, 2011

Over spring break I went on the Habitat for Humanity service trip to Miami for the third time. I was just expecting it to be like the previous two years, but I was in for a huge surprise. One of the great things about Habitat for Humanity is that the homeowners (the families that will be receiving a house) are required to volunteer a certain number of hours with Habitat, and so you get the opportunity to work with them. Unfortunately for us, we work during the week, and most of the homeowners have jobs during the week, so they do their volunteer hours on the weekends, and we may get a brief chance to talk to them at the thank you event in the middle of the week. I was expecting the same this time, but I was surprised when not only did the homeowner come visit us at the site, she did reflections with us later that evening, and even worked with us one day during the week. It was great being able to directly interact with the person we were helping and being able to imagine her family living in the house. She shared with us her own experiences and how she is trying to turn her life around, and how important Habitat for Humanity has been in that. I was particularly struck by how excited she was to not have to be ruled by a landlord, to have a house that could really be her home and no one else's. After that experience, I was really struck by what a huge impact Habitat has. I could see how big a difference the organization was making in this one life, and I just began to think about the more than 2 million people around the world that have been helped through Habitat. If it could make such a huge difference in the life of Latisha, her family, and her community, It is amazing to think about how much change has been brought about by Habitat on a global scale. I am extremely honored and humbled to be part of such a great organization.

Jeyla Mammadova, Co-Coordinator of CARES

March 24th, 2011

Last week we spoke in regards to values, to pick one word or a characteristic that described why we continue pursuing our goals, and why we continue getting involved with certain activities. Although my word of choice was “excitement’ for this reflection I want to write about the word ‘community.’ As Dickinson students, the term ‘community’ surrounds us, from our dorm communities, to our communities in our areas of study and extracurricular activities to the the communities that we create for ourselves among our friends. CARES, an organization that I help coordinate, works with students who attend Hamilton Elementary school from whom English is a second language. I want to focus on the community that is created among the CARES students and their mentors.

CARES has been run at Dickinson College for a few years, and it has been beneficial in creating a sense of community because the students who became involved within the program were starting off when they were in 1st and 2nd grades. What has been even greater is they continue to return year after year. The community that has been created among the students is of support, enjoyment, fun, and understanding. Because the students who participate in CARES make up a small percentage of students in the Hamilton Elementary School community, it is clear that the connections that they developed while being at Dickinson extends to their school. They’ve created a community for themselves. It is great to see students be excited about coming back to campus, and sad about leaving at the end of the semester. Although they sometimes bicker, the mentors are aware of how much the program means to the students.

The students understand that they are part of the community, part of the support system that exists even when they are not among their mentors at Dickinson College. Being able to take part in creating that community for the students in Carlisle, provides new meaning to the word “community” for me as well as for other CARES mentors.

Emily Eckardt, Co-Coordinator of Big/Little

March 10, 2011

I don’t know of many people who are more obsessed with their major than I am. As a Women’s and Gender Studies major I learn about all forms of intersecting inequalities, activism, and social movements. However, I will always put my service first. There are a lot of valuable things to learn in the classroom and I adore most of my readings for class, but direct immersion into the outside community is invaluable. The time I spend every week playing with my Little, the hours I spend every weekend with the homeless, and the overnight shifts I am on call with the Rape Crisis Hotline teach me in countless ways. It is through one-on-one interactions with people so different from myself, that I learn so much about how the real world works. My service work not only benefits those who I work with, hopefully, but myself and my future as well. I have learned how to connect with people and how to gain respect and trust in people who do not easily hand it out. In class I discuss intellectual theory, through service I am reminded of why I am so passionate and committed to social justice.

It is utterly true that privilege can be blinding. I hear daily complaints of the “Dickinson bubble.” But that bubble is largely self-constructed and only enabled by our collective privilege of being students at a selective liberal arts college. One day I was giving a tour and I passed by a couple from CARES and another afternoon I was walking to a class and bumped into my favorite guest, Mervin, bike riding through the academic quad. I was gladly ten minutes late to class because I was catching up with Mervin about his Christmas and all the gifts he saved up for to buy his daughter.  It is not until moments like these when I feel like a real member of the Carlisle community. There is an entire community that begins just a few steps down High Street past Denny, behind the Quarry on West Louther and beyond Adams on West Pomfret that most Dickinsonians are unaware of. My classes can educate me to a certain extent. It is my involvement in the community that truly enlightens me about the diversity of the world I live in. 

Brandon O'brien Co-Coordinator of CARES

February 14, 2011

I find that I relate the most to my mentees. I was not an ESL student; however I understand the challenges of balancing school with home life. This is also a challenge though, since I did not have this added challenge as a kid. To potential volunteers, I would pass on to them that they don’t have to have experience working with kids, and that the best thing they can do is show up and give it their best shot. Over time, they will learn how they can help the kids in their own way.  It seems to me that there is almost always a need for more volunteers in the community, no matter where someone wants to volunteer. The more people there are that are willing to help, the easier it is for everyone.

The biggest problem with community service on a global level appears to be that most people are apathetic when it comes to giving back. At the local level, I try to convince anyone I can that their time is valuable and that they are needed.  It is very important for me to stay involved with community service beyond Dickinson because, for me, it’s about helping people. It’s not about adding something to mu resume.  I hope that my efforts working with CARES will contribute to these kids’ lives. We want them to see the importance of doing well in school and to not become frustrated with the added difficulty they have of using a language that is not necessarily native to them. It is very possible that this work will have little impact on my career, as I don’t see it as something that is going to help me, but others.  The only thing I would wish to change in my volunteer service experience is to get involved sooner as I did no community service my first year.

If had to write 100 words on my experience, I would write about how this time has helped me grow as a person. Bot only has it been a fun experience, but it is very rewarding to do something selfless. 

Abbey Kalman, Co-Coordinator of Carlisle Tutoring

October 7 2010

It is far too easy to get wrapped up in the all of the daily meetings, classes, papers, readings, sports, and other activities that define the college experience. With fall pause right around the corner, everyone’s workload is picking up. Sometimes, it feels like running in place. There is always more work to be done, and it often feels like a struggle to stay on top of everything. Despite the business of everyday life, I know that I must find ways to remember why I do what I do: otherwise, it’s easy to become discouraged. I have to find ways to remind myself of the bigger picture, and ways to gain perspective. I have to remind myself as often as possible of my passions and goals, otherwise they will get lost in the shuffle. In order to keep our passions alive, we must engage them.

Leading a community service group involves a lot of detail work and organization: but we do all of that work for a very specific reason. We all are making a difference, and contributing to something that is bigger than we are as individuals. Community service is one of the ways in which we can all gain perspective: there is so much more to life than due dates and reading assignments, although is easy to get buried under the stress and forget about our driving forces. For me, it’s important to remember that we, as community service organizers and participants, have the power to create change. Feeling empowered and passionate is the best way to stay motivated, and I know that it’s up to me to keep those feelings current and updated throughout each week.

Chris Harrington, Co-coordinator of DEEP

September 30 2010

Almost two weeks ago I left Dickinson to assist my Dad in his re-election campaign for the Maryland State Senate. The last few weeks of the campaign had been very tumultuous and stressful because, despite a promise to run a clean campaign, my dad’s opponent had resorted to negative campaigning based on lies and fear. Despite these developments my dad kept his word to run a clean campaign. Unfortunately in the end he was defeated. The reason why this is such a powerful experience for me is because the person who defeated him was a member of the other house in the state capital and during his 8 year tenure he had only successfully passed 8 bills. Whereas my Dad who was in the capital for 2 years had passed over 20. In this instance the tactics of fears, lies, and money won an election for one of the most powerful and coveted positions in the state. The question then becomes, if these tactics are those that determine leadership, and then what message are we sending to our leaders. By not being diligent aware citizens we are letting our leadership be determined for us, and thereby nullifying our own constitutional rights.

Working on several campaigns this summer, I constantly heard one thing. Citizens always say, “Politicians lie and are deceitful” or “they’re only concerned about their own pockets.” But it is the citizenry that allows these tactics to work. In an age when the internet has made politics and policy decisions so easily accessible to the average citizen, citizens do the least in terms of figuring out their leadership for themselves. We rely on fancy mailers and cute commercials, but then complain that these same politicians are the ones who are lying and deceiving us. If you truly believe that these same politicians are the ones who can’t be trusted, then stop taking their word. Get on Google, do a search, and become informed citizens. Because every vote that is cast based off of poor judgment, is another chance that the dreams and opportunities of future generations will be crushed due to mismanagement and bad politics.

Hannah Gordon, co-coordinator for Empower

September 16 2010

For me, the CommServ retreat definitely provided me with some great experiences to reflect on.  I think that the most memorable aspect of the retreat was the activity in which we had to get every member of CommServ on each of the 25 spots on the ground.  This was an extremely daunting task, and honestly I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to complete it.  The rules were very restricting, and our group failed many times trying to figure out a way to cross the circles without stepping on the ground, or touching any of the spots more than once.

This was incredibly frustrating, as we had taken over an hour to find a successful method.  Eventually though, the group came together and we devised our plan to cross the spots.  Everyone was very excited and supportive of one another.  However, shortly after we came up with our plan, it was my turn to cross the spots, and of course, I was the first person to fall flat on my back.  This was completely embarrassing, and I was just about ready to give up.  As I turned around to head to the back of the line, a few people called out for me to try again.  Eventually, everyone chimed in, and I made my second attempt, and found my spot on the ground.  Although a few attempts later, we reached our third ‘touch’ and had to start over, I was completely motivated to finish the task at hand.

From this experience, I was able to realize what great people I am working with on CommServ.  Although it would have been very easy for everyone to blame me for messing up, instead everyone invited me to try again, and gave me their total support.  I am so happy to know that I am working with other students who are caring and dedicated, in such an open environment.  This experience really made me excited for the rest of the year, as I know that any member of CommServ would be there to support me in any issues I come across as a coordinator. 

Libby Sick, co-coordinator Carlisle Tutoring

September 9 2010

Using the lens of the microscope, I have learned that in leading and establishing a community service program the most important aspect for both the tutors who volunteer, the students who receive tutoring, and the community partners is consistency. I find myself often frustrated due to lack of consistency on all parts. Tutors do not go to community sites every week, students do not trust or build relationships with the tutors, and community partners become skeptical of the seriousness of the program.

If attendance, enthusiasm, and caring were maintained, I believe Carlisle Tutoring Program would benefit not only the individual students, but also the Carlisle and Dickinson Communities as well. Similar to the classroom where students are required to come to class, be prepared with reading or papers, and participate in discussion, consistency is part of what we learn from kindergarten.

My actions as a coordinator most definitely impact how consistency is valued and if tutors and community partners stay motivated. In the upcoming semester, more needs to be done to reach the ultimate goal of an established, sustainable program that provides a service to the community that makes a difference. Consistency in service is not just about showing up to meetings or always being at the tutoring site. Consistency is about being present, involved, and passionate everyday because when coordinators, community partners, tutors, and students work together actual goals can be accomplished.